Story & Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
Metropolitan State University of Denver, Chicana/o Studies Department held the 8th Annual Lalo Delgado Poetry Festival Tuesday April 21, 2015 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. at the St. Cajetans Event Center, on the Auraria Campus, Denver. This year’s theme, “From the Sword to the Pen”, centered on activism through poetry.
The Festival featured nationally renown poet and activist: Jimmy Santiago Baca. Jimmy is a winner of the American Book Award and the National Poetry Award. Santigo had the audience in tears with his heart rendering poetry and stories.
“Are there any questions?” Asked Baca at the end of his presentation. When none of the students had a question, Baca reminded them of the sacrifice their ancestors had made to build the St. Cajetan’s church and the community that once had surrounded it.
He also told them of the struggle many had gone through to insure that Chicanos would be included in the colleges of Auraria so that they could have the opportunity to be sitting in the chairs of Metropolitan State University so that they could have the opportunity to be able to ask questions. “Now, let me ask you again, does anyone have any questions?,” asked Baca, Nearly everyone in the audience raised their hand.
Jimmy Santiago Baca has established himself as an inspiring and important spokesperson for the Chicano experience, continually giving voice to the voiceless. The movie Blood In – Blood Out; was based on the true life experiences of Jimmy Santiago Baca, who also was one of the writers of the movie.
Delgado is best known as Colorado’s social justice poet who was considered the National Grandfather of Chicano Poetry. Delgado received a hand-written Civil Rights Award from Rosa Parks, Scholar/Elder of the Civil Rights Movement who worked with Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez to support thousands of migrant farm workers in the Unites States who were striking for better working conditions.
Lalo’s Poetry Festival also features Poetry Jazz by Freddy Rodriguez Jr., and other poets such as Jessie Ramirez, Dr. Ramon Del Castillo, Ricardo La Fore and Antonio Vigil. A special treat will be poetry recited by Lalo’s great grandchildren. Dr. Chalane Lechuga, a Professor of Chicana/o Studies will bring us an academic experience of understanding poetry through education.
Delegado was a tireless advocate of migrant and undocumented workers. His work has been widely translated and received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He was internationally renowned as a culturist and folklorist and is credited as one of the pioneers of Chicano Literature.
Born in Mexico Lalo Delgado worked in the Utah, El Paso, and Colorado for more than 40 years. His poetry , stories and essays raise questions and dramatize Hispanic issues. He was loved by all and his legacy continues through the annual poetry festival held in his honor.As Magdaleno Avila put it. “Lalo was one of the important spiritual writers for the Chicano movement…He wrote of our pain, our promise and our vision of a better world…he let his voice rumble through his written lines announcing the new vanguard for justice and freedom. My friends, this man is a dreamer, a lover of life, he carries the burdens of the world in his heart and in his pen.”
The festival opened with a blessing ceremony by Aztec Troupe Huitzilopochtli, followed by a free continental breakfast and a catered lunch. Sponsors included MSU Presidents Office of Institutional Diversity, and Student Activities, the University of Colorado Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy and Research Organization.
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
Photos of the 2014 Lalo Delgado Poetry Fesitival