As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Springfield Technical Community College welcomed Springfield poet laureate Magdalena Gómez on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Student Trustee Glerisbed Garcia-Figueroa introduced Gómez, who offered a warm and engaging presentation in the auditorium of Scibelli Hall. She read her poetry in a theatrical and compelling style. She sometimes extended her arms as she recited her poems and modulated her voice to emphasize words and phrases.

She dedicated her first poem to Karolyn Burgos Toribio, Student Success Navigator at STCC who read one of her poems, and Garcia-Figueroa. The poem was from her book, “Shameless Woman.”

“This is meant to grab a drum and read aloud,” she said.

The event was presented by the Hispanic Association in Higher Education and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

According to her bio on her website, Gómez, the daughter of a Spanish Gitano (Romaní “gypsy”) father and a Puerto Rican mother, was raised to be a storyteller. The intellectually gifted child of unschooled parents, she discovered the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and translations of Chinese women poets on her own at the age of eight in a South Bronx library and has been writing ever since.
Ms. Gómez is an award-winning performance poet, playwright, performer and teaching artist. Her original series, Writing from the Belly, which she facilitated for women for over a decade at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, was the training ground for the now yearly performance of Body Politics at the university.

Burgos-Toribio opened the event with a reading of her poem “Conditioning.” She offered to share the poem below:


Not until later in life and until we can think for ourselves

Do we realize what society has done with our mentality

Let me tell you what I mean

You see we are conditioned from a very young age to aspire to

Be lesser-than a man and that our purpose is to raise a family

Have you ever realized that when we were given those

Kitchen sets, dolls, and fake babies as toys

It was more so for practice than to actually enjoy

 We are conditioned by an environment that tells us we’re not good enough and

We could never possibly be as successful as we want to be

Because when we turn on the TV most of what we see is us as maids, caretakers, or night dancers

Not as business women or big money-makers

 We are conditioned to be insecure about our accents

The beauty marks we can pronounce as our

Culture exudes off our tongues when we speak

but what’s unique is you can hear our background when we speak, literally.

 We are conditioned to think that men are more important than us

That they will be the “bread-winners” of the house

They are supposed to have the better job, perhaps the better car

I mean I don’t even have to get into much about the wage gap

 We can aspire to succeed but not more than them

Because if you do God forbid you stay single because

You’re doing good, and making money, and not worrying

About his money or calling him honey

True story, a guy that liked me once said

“Aww you poor thing, you shouldn’t be working

All day, I’m a very successful man I can just spoil you”

I’m thinking well I will keep working all day

Until one day I have more than enough to spoil myself

Then we can see who spoils who

Then there’s some of us who are conditioned to think our curly hair is unprofessional

That our hair should be straightened and combed

But excuse me as I condition these curls

Cause I won’t curl into your norms

The expectations aren’t stacked upon us

They are stacked below us

We are perceived as underachievers

But it’s not what it seems it’s..

We come here, we learn English then when we do learn it

You keep us in ESOL classes while at the same time we’re taking honors English

Doesn’t make sense does it?

 See the expectations are below us

but they stack all the barriers on top of us

We are conditioned to strive for a lot less

And struggle a lot more

 But I know we’re strong, intelligent, and powerful,

And that’s why we’ll continue to work hard and succeed

 I know we have to continue with the rest of the show now

But I hope you learned something from my point of view of life

As a Hispanic woman