Oakland rooted poet takes the mic

“Entre la Miel y el Fuego” brings students and staff of San Jose City College together in the form of spoken word at the student center

Photo By Kasandra Arreola/ Times Staff
ALMAAS members pose for group photo in room SC-203 Friday afternoon, April 22nd.

A room full of guests shared their appreciation for Deyci Carillo López at a poetry workshop hosted by ALMAAS at San Jose City College. The on-campus club ALMAAS worked with sponsorship from Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) to bring advocate and poet, López, to SJCC on Friday, April where she read from her self- published book of poetry “Entre la Miel y el Fuego”.

Serafin Andrade, a sociology major at SJCC, helped organize the event and was inspired by a bookmark his poet friend López had brought back for him from Mexico. The bookmark, made from the indigenous people in Mexico, gave Andrade the idea of having López read her poetry at SJCC.

“I thought, she’s been doing other readings at UC Davis, Chico and Berkeley, and she hasn’t come here. She should come to San Jose City!” Andrade said.

López is not only a poet, but a full-time paralegal who advocates for those in immigration detention, and said she hopes that her words spread “magic.”

When asked about why Andrade wanted this event to happen at SJCC he said, “I see how it touches different people in different ways and I think that’s what words and poetry do. And when I heard her poetry that’s what it did to me.”

López said her work is a creation of her loved ones who inspire her, including her family, friends and romantic relationships.

“I feel like sometimes I’m not best at expressing my love through actions, but I can do it with words,” she said.

One of the main sources of inspiration in López’s poetry are the obstacles that immigrants face.

“I just felt like their stories were stories that many people and spaces have not heard or they’ve never been told that their story matters,” López said. “I wanted to give them the opportunity to be in this book and show the world that their stories and experiences matter.”

During the event, López talked about how her writing journey has led to many great milestones in her life. One of those more memorable moments was opening for Rupi Kaur, author of “Milk and Honey” in López’s hometown of Oakland.

“I feel really thankful for her putting me out there and helping me expose my poetry in Oakland,” López said about Kaur.

López was not only inspired by the people in her life to write poetry, but said she sought their help in the book’s design as well.

“The cover art was made by Eddie, someone who was formally detained, the photography was my homegirl Esme, an East Oakland photographer, and the proof reading of the Spanish was done with the help of my high school Spanish teacher, Mrs. Matilla from Lionel Wilson College Preparatory,” López said.

After the students listened to López’s reading, they were brought together to form a communal poem.

Andrade, who has been detained in the past due to his immigration status, recalled a poem he and other detainees worked on together by author and activist Aida Salazar. Salazar’s “I am” poem served as inspiration for the workshop.

“I wanted it not to just be an individual thing, because we’re in a community,” Andrade said.“So everyone writes their own line to see what it means to them. I think that’s what made it more powerful.”