Story by Portia Choi
Photos by Martin Chang
Yaritza I. Castro is another poet who found a place to express her writing at First Friday Open Mic at Dagny’s Coffee. She started attending First Friday Open Mic at Dagny’s Coffee in summer 2015.
Castro found out about the Open mic through another poet, Mateo Lara. They had met at the university when Lara was directing a play and Castro was one of the actors. Lara shared his poems with Castro. He had a stack of poems that he read and gave her books to read. Castro says of Lara, that he “inspired me to write a lot more, because I was so used to hiding my poetry.” She found that he was “shameless himself in his writing.”
Castro describes her poetry as “honest and raw because they are poetry entries in my journal.” She found that after she had written in her journal and by coming to poetry reading that she “realized that not all poetry had to rhyme.” The journal entries were poetry.
Castro started writing poetry in the seventh grade when there was a poetry unit at school. She “realized how easy it was for me to come with couplets and meter. . . so I got really excited and showed (it) to her mother.” It was then that Castro’s mother told her that she wrote poetry too. Her mother “took down a big finder of poetry that was old, like ten to twenty years old.” (There is a poem by Castro’s mother in Spanish which Castro translated into English “Do not fall in love with me.”) Her mother influenced Castro to write in personification as in her poem “Ice & Fire.” Castro came to know and understand her mother by reading her mother’s poetry. She came to understand her mother “at a different level.”
Castro dedicated her first book of poetry, Unfinished Poems for a Lover, to her mother. She wrote “For my mother. Thank you for passing down your love for art in the purest form.” Castro said that the purest form of art was “words.”
Castro has other relatives who are poets. One is published and known in his country. Castro’s favorite poets are Spanish; Pablo Neruda, Antonio Machado and Jorge Luis Borges. She especially likes a poem by Borges with its message to her to “take initiative.” And Yaritza I Castro took initiative and published a book of poetry. Following are excerpts from her first book of poems, Unfinished Poems For a Lover
1:55 AM (Written initially as a journal entry)
“Love is not real,” he said.
“We as humans made it up to justify our selfish
Actions, our needs. It’s made up,” he said. . . .
Love isn’t a selfish act. Love isn’t made up. It
Isn’t just lustful. Love is real because it hurts.
My biology teacher said love isn’t real, but I’m
Awake at 1:55 am and I love you.
Ice & Fire (First poem read at Open Mic)
Porcelain kisses burn like fever; . . .
Luke-warm touches, harlf0hearted embraces,
A light ignited by someone else,
There is such as thing as colder places
Once ice begins to melt.”