Laughter from the audience mixed in with the soothing voice of poet Luivette Resto. Her words, at times angry and biting, like when she reads a poem about an idiotic coworker, capture the audience more than once. Standing at a podium, Resto presents her thoughts in an organized anecdotal manner that speak to an audience that ranged in age while also sprinkling her poems in between.
Resto was born in Puerto Rico but was raised in the Bronx. While she’s lived in L.A. for 15 years, Resto still considers herself from the Bronx.
Resto visited the PCC campus on October 10th as part of the 2018 Visiting Writer Series which is sponsored by grant money from the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors.
“This writer series is awesome,” writing student Alejandra Arciniega said. “I like the poem she read about Hurricane Maria and the after effects. I think what we hear in the United States about that storm is so greatly minimized because our news is so greatly filtered and we’re living in such a political time. So to hear someone whose heart belongs in Puerto Rico to a larger extent carries the full repercussions and pain that comes from that.”
Resto is a political feminist writer who expresses her creativity with personal life excerpts with a fascinating mix of humor and sarcasm. Her poems deal with topics such as racist coworkers, being the only person of color in her colleges, and female empowerment.
“She was really into women’s value in today’s culture,” said PCC student Ken Payne. “She really seems to be pushing for diversity and I liked hearing about that.”
Resto read some poems to her audience from her first published work, “Unfinished Portrait” and some recent works. A lot of themes in her works deal with being a woman of color and the racism and oppression she has faced because of that. Her poems are also littered with Spanish words and phrases, which she did not translate in person or in her work. Unapologetically Latina, Resto uses culture, humor, and personal experience to build a connection with her readers and relay her innermost thoughts.
Poems like “Questions for the Young Woman Representing Latinos, Women, Puerto Ricans, and People of Color,” “A Poem for the Professors Who Say There is No Place for Bilingualism in Poetry,” “Where Are You From,” and “Attack of the Brown People” amongst many others are some where Resto criticized society and the hurdles she came across in her life as a woman of color.
“I was the only person of color in my graduate school program,” Resto shared. “I had a professor say ‘You know there’s no place for bilingualism in poetry’. And I was the only one bringing bilingual poems every week. It was disheartening to hear that. It was my first year, first semester and I wanted to leave. I cried. I was surrounded by people who were wealthy and white. It was really hard to find a community.”
Resto ended the two hour event with audience questions. Questions were not hard to come by, ranging from writing structure, publishing, and why she writes political poems.
“I think every single poem that I write is political,” Resto said. “For the simple fact I am a woman. I am a woman of color. I’m bilingual. I’m first generation. I’m a mom. I’m a single mom. I could go on and on. Everything about me makes me political. My existence right now is a political expression.”