Local poets address cultural differences

Many performers at Friday’s event are featured on a CD titled ‘Nation of Immigrants.’

Minnesota spoken word artists and poets gathered Friday night in Elmer L. Andersen Library to express what it means to be a âÄúnation of immigrants.âÄù The event featured perspectives from 10 Minnesota artists on what it means to come from culturally diverse backgrounds and live in the United States. The Institute for Global Studies, the Immigration History Research Center, the Department of American Studies and the Loft Literary Center sponsored the event, which also featured a special presentation by the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network. University professor of African Studies Trica Keaton said she was inspired by a performance held at the Loft last fall and decided to bring the event to campus. Many artists at FridayâÄôs event appear on a CD titled âÄúNation of Immigrants,âÄù which was produced by âÄúEquilibrium, âÄù a Loft-sponsored series devoted to spoken word artists and audiences of color. Keaton said she often plays the CD for her students. Lorena Duarte , a performer at the event, is featured on the CD. Duarte was born in El Salvador and came to Minnesota at the age of 10. Her piece, âÄúSan Nicolás, Patron Saint of Children,âÄù is a story inspired by a woman she met while working at a social service agency and describes how broken our immigration system is, she said. âÄúPeople donâÄôt understand that people are fleeing and are literally starving,âÄù Duarte said. âÄúItâÄôs not an easy decision to come here. People donâÄôt want to leave their families but do because they want them to have a better life.âÄù Doctoral candidate in feminist studies Charlotte Albrecht is an Arab-American of Lebanese and German descent. When asked to perform her piece Friday, âÄúLovelessness and Extinguished Spirits,âÄù Albrecht said she was excited to have the opportunity to deliver her perspective on what it means to be a nation of immigrants. âÄúIt was a good opportunity to put my poem out there and get feedback from people,âÄù she said. Albrecht said she wanted people to think about the racism and hatred that are directed toward people who are thought of as âÄúillegal immigrants.âÄù More specifically, she wanted people to direct their attention to Latino and Mexican immigrants. âÄúI wanted people to think about the privilege that they might have if they have privileged relatives [compared] to people who are not documented in this country,âÄù Albrecht said. Albrecht said she was grateful to have the opportunity to see the other artists from the CD perform. âÄúItâÄôs just an amazing and phenomenally talented group of people,âÄù Albrecht said. âÄúI was glad to get to watch the rest of the performers, too.âÄù Biology, society and environment junior Jennea Jerdee, one of KeatonâÄôs students, said listening to the performers live was a completely different experience than listening to the poets on the CD. âÄúSeeing it live, you can see the perspective, and sometimes, itâÄôs more than you can take,âÄù she said. âÄúThis was definitely something good to do for my brain on a Friday night.âÄù