Thursday, April 11, 2013

Carlos Andres Gomez tells Lutes to 'Man up'

Beat poet speaks on life, social issues and inequality

By Rachel Diebel, A&E Writer

Slam poetry performer Carlos Andres Gomez pumped up his Pacific Lutheran University audience on April 2.
He began the night with a declaration —  “give it up for the first Tuesday night of the rest of your lives” — and kept his level of energy up the entire evening.
Gomez was at PLU as part of his “Provoke Freedom” college tour promoting his book, “Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood.” 

The book is semi-autobiographical, telling stories from his childhood and musings on the state of “being a man” in modern society.
He told the audience to “wear a seatbelt and a helmet” when they read his book, because the material is extremely heavy and sometimes very sad.
“I always felt like what everyone told me to be was diametrically opposite from who I was,” Gomez said.  “In high school, I made it my life’s mission to erase everything I was and become what I was told I should be.” 
Gomez went on to tell stories about his own personal journey to manhood, ranging from second grade soccer games to near fights in bars.
Interspersed with the stories, Gomez performed some of the slam poetry that made him famous as a star on HBO’s “Def Poetry,” a completed HBO series featuring up-and-coming slam poets and hip hop artists. 
Gomez’s poetry also spanned a range of topics. 
His first poem, “Pet Peeve,” bemoaned the fact that being angry is all that moves us anymore. 
“When did dreams become so uncool?” Gomez asked.
Later the topic turned to social inequalities, with poems about gay rights, genocide and racism. 
Gomez performed poems about the reactions he got to merely holding his best male friend’s hand for a day, and the vulgar comments of a taxi cab driver about his black girlfriend. 
The tone of the poems was more contemplative than negative, however.
Gomez reflected on the fact that he was “forgetting to speak without his fists,” and that he is not perfect either.  “How many disgusting things have I said without recourse?” Gomez said.
 “As a women’s and gender studies minor, he talked about things that are really important to me,” sophomore Allie Reynolds said.  “Equality matters.  Everyone should be treated equally, regardless of who they are.”
Gomez ended the evening inviting PLU students to ask him questions they may have about anything, with the hashtag “PLUbeautiful.” 
“Why am I asking you to use that hashtag?” Gomez asked.  “Because we’re beautiful,” chanted the audience.  “Darn right you are,” Gomez said.
“I think he addressed a lot of issues we don’t often talk about,” senior Jennie Greb said.  “Seeing the way he channeled his passion was inspiring. We all have things we’re passionate about. I hope from this experience we can discover our own way of expressing our passion.”
Gomez can be reached via his Facebook page, twitter handle @CarlosAGLive or on his webpage