By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor | Photos Courtesy of Jessica Lopez and Facebook.com
Award winning slam poet, activist, former student, and ACE tutor, Jessica Helen Lopez brings a passion for language to everything she does, painting vivid pictures with words, and bringing wit and attitude to her many causes.
Lopez is scheduled to read from her second published book of poems, “C*nt. Bomb,” at Bookworks on 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW, April 15 at 7 p.m.
C*nt Bomb is a follow-up to her highly acclaimed collection “Always Messing with Them Boys,” and is a provocative exploration of gender, sexuality, power, and the realities of being a woman and Mexican American in the modern world, Lopez said.
As for the controversial title that the Chronicle has censored, Lopez said it is an attempt to take the power of the word “c*nt” back from people who use it to abuse women, and instead use it to empower them.
“It used to be a fertile word. It’s only been taken and misappropriated over the centuries, abused just like women have been abused: raped, pillaged and oppressed to this day,” Lopez said.
The book features feminist poems about the violence against women in Juarez, the beauty of the female body, reproductive rights, the process of transitioning from girlhood to womanhood, and Chicana pride, she said.
Lopez has been involved in the Albuquerque slam poetry scene since 2005, when she took a creative writing class at CNM, she said.
One of her assignments was to attend a poetry reading, where she met instructor and local poet Don McIver, who convinced her to perform for the first time, she said.
“That was it— man, I was hooked,” Lopez said.
She has since been on five poetry slam teams, and has competed in eight national events, she said.
“Then I found my place in this community. And I’ve been writing, performing, publishing, and been an educator of spoken and written word ever since,” Lopez said.
In 2012, she was the Women of the World slam poetry champion for Albuquerque, and she repeated this feat just two weeks ago, and will once again go on to represent the Duke City in the national competition.
Her first collection of poems, “Always Messing with Them Boys,” was published in 2011 on West End Press, and has won the Zia Book Award and was featured on the Southwest Book of the Year readers list.
The book has since been part of the curriculum for several literature classes at UNM, where Lopez also teaches poetry, she said.
“I found a lot of success with that book. It really opened my eyes to the publishing world, and the ability to tour with a book that was published by a press,” Lopez said.
Lopez was also featured at TEDxABQ in 2012 where she spoke about the power of poetry to tell personal stories, which can be found on youtube.com.
She said that without the help of mentors like McIver and support from a tight-knit community of local writers and performers, her teammates in the Albuquerque Slam Team, and the rest of the poetry community, she would never have gotten to where she is today.
“I really had to model myself after my teammates, who were more experienced than I, and I learned a lot from them. It’s like that within Albuquerque, it’s a mentorship model,” Lopez said.
Lopez said that her advice for anyone who wants to break into the world of the written and spoken word is to read and write as much as possible, to find a community that can support you, and most of all, to never be afraid of failure.
“Allow yourself to be surprised, allow yourself to be disappointed, but don’t allow yourself to be stagnant. If you want to be a writer, writing will find you; it won’t leave you alone, it will gnaw on you like a bone, and you just have to meet it in the middle,” Lopez said.
To find Lopez’s book C*nt Bomb online CLICK HERE.