El Salvadoran poet and YouTube sensation, Yesika Salgado spoke at VCU Nov. 8 on issues self publishing, branding and identity in the creative field.
Salgado toured college campuses for decades and is poet by trade, she told the audience, but never felt the need to attend college. After Salgado noticed the number of people who expected her to have a college education to be a successful writer, Salgado performed a social experiment to see how many of her Uber drivers would ask her what her degree was after telling them her profession.
She found most of the drivers who were white males, asked her about her degree.
“We’re told that we’re supposed to be professionals,” Salgado said.
She asked the audience to rethink about what success means especially in context of western expectations of education.
Salgado created self published zines of her poetry entitled “WOES,” “Sentimental Boss Bitch” and “The Luna Poems.” Her talent secured a spot on Da Poetry Lounge Slam Team. The team participated in the National Poetry Slam competition and became finalist in 2017.
Salgado said she also has other avenues of group poetry.
Chingona Fire, Salgado’s Latina feminist collective, curates monthly poetry events and writing workshops for women of color. The workshops are produced solely by women of color.
“I consider myself much more of a writer than an activist,” Salgado said. “I try to get people to become activists with my writings.”
Salgado revealed pieces of her history and heritage before delving into reading her emotionally revealing and frighteningly relatable poems about love, childhood and the progression of her outlook on her body throughout the years.
Salgado said life in El Salvador was occasionally a struggle, but her experiences there are still one of her main sources of inspiration for her poems. She told the audience about her father’s alcohol dependence and subsequent erratic behavior. Salgado touched on cyclical poverty when telling anecdotes about her parents who worked harder than almost anyone she has ever known but who still lacked the financial means to show for it.
“I’m someone who’s constantly writing about feelings and embracing having too many of them,” Salgado said. “Poetry is a constant reminder that we are not alone in this world.”
The poet’s Twitter account reveals some of the things that drive her to pump out rich poems constantly.
“I write from the longing of wanting to know more about home. I write about feeling displaced. About my migrant parents. Their sweet Spanish,” Salgado tweeted.
Madeline Wheeler, Contributing Writer