The Española Poetry Explosion Team, The Española Public Library and El Razafotografista would like to introduce to our fans and the world this month’s feature, Olivia Romo.
Autobiography Mi Vida
I was born in Taos, New Mexico on April 19th 1993, to Raymond and Priscilla Romo. Being raised in Llano Quemado and the Talpa communities. I learned the way of our ancestors by tending the land, raising animals, and building homes with the earth we stand on. I was closely involved with the Saint Francis de Asis parish in Ranchos where I made my confirmation and taught many catechism classes to the youth. As a young girl I was a Sangre De Cristo Girl Scout member for nine years, and I also played many sports from Volley ball to basketball through middles school and high school. I was also a very vigorous student in high school as I challenged myself by taking all AP classes in English and Science, but also getting involved with extracurricular activities like the poetry club and theater. My sophomore year at Taos High, I was honored of being the captain of the Poetry Slam Team of the school, and held the position until I was a senior in high school. Being the only indigenous person on the team I felt empowered by leading and helping all the student writers take the state championship in 2012. Including a trip to the Brave New Voice National Youth poetry slam, those three years of my life were filled with inspiration and travel all over the West Coast. Being a performer, I also achieved a role in the short film “Torcida” in Espanola New Mexico. Directed by local film writers Diego Lopez and Kieran Sequoia they had makeup artists, car dealers, and home owners that allowed me and other actors to drive low-riders, use local homes as scenes in the film, and cosmologists who worked in Espanola to created the Vida Loca that many of the people and youth struggle through daily. I embraced the role coming from this culture and enjoyed just sitting back in a lowrider repeating lines with other kids that I related too just like talking to my friends back in Talpa. The film was a success and watching it in the big screen made me realize that the life I live and the struggle behind it is worth memorializing and writing about. In all my poetry I write about the things I have experienced, stories I have heard from the elders, and about my history, hometown, and oppressions. I loved doing oral performances at slams in local coffee shops and warehouses, but I decided that memorializing my own people and giving back to the community that helped raise me was what needed to happen. In order to help emphasize the elders say and do and help the youth remember these important traditions and ways of life. Going off to the University at the ripe age of eighteen helped me look inside myself and question home, my beliefs, and the efficiency of how my community has worked for centuries. After taking many anthropology and writing classes I explored the ideas of many ethnographers and outsiders who consumed the culture like a foreign food and wrote about it. Not me, those biased ethnocentric writers were looking for culture and many times sold those stories and sacred artifacts and experiences to the Western world in hope to obtain recognition and money. I, being native to the community I want to record the stories, recipes, remedies, and advice that the community has to say in order to create a book from its people and for its people. So I collaborated with many women from the Talpa community center and created a fundraiser cook book that embraced the community as a whole. Taking nine months, just like any child, the book embodied poems, recipes, art work, and remedies from people in the Talpa community. The most rewarding thing about the book was how it revealed the networking in my community as elders would flip through its pages saying I know this person and I took care of her children and she made this recipe for me every Christmas. More memories were brought to the table and a happy past with a strong future was build for my people. College separated me and my people on a physical, intellectual, and spiritual level that I have struggled with for two years now. So to feel more at ease at the University I got involved with the Chicano Studies program that has given me a part time job, internship opportunities, and scholarships. This program empowers Chicano students by providing advisors, mentors, and spaces that raza students can feel comfortable and get more one on one assistance. I interact and work with other students from Northern New Mexico and feel empowered to go back home and tell my people and family that yes what I have learned at the University is helpful and worthwhile so maybe I could inspire more of the youth to receive higher education and maybe build a cultural center in Taos that will help my community to celebrate who we are, their work, our history, and provide a support and success program for all community members! My writing and life reflects my culture and where I come from inevitably. I hope to walk with the guidance of my ancestors and community to one day fight for our rights in the court of law, on the streets, and lead the revolution in the hearts and minds of my people that fires them to want to change our circumstance and want to fight for our culture, land, language, and rights that have been stolen from us for centuries. I want to love myself through my people and my community, give back and learn all that I can to further the future generation of Chicano children and the community we live in.