Dell Valle

Spoken-word artist, Mayda Del Valle ’00  has been selected for the Oprah Power List.

Sharing company with the likes of  physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, four-star General Ann Dunwoody, artist Kara Walker, and comic Sarah Silverman, Del Valle is featured in the September issue of O Magazine.

The O Power List  is a tribute to “20 remarkable visionaries who are flexing their muscles in business and finance, politics and justice, science and the arts.”

The segment on Del Valle says:

“Mayda Del Valle doesn’t waste words. Or time. In 2001, at the age of 22, the Chicago native became the youngest poet and first Latino to win the Individual National Poetry Slam. Since then, her bracing style — informed by latin jazz and hip-hop —  has set off sparks on Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry HBO series and Broadway show; in May she performed at the White House at the invitation of the president and First lady.”

When O asked Del Valle to talk about what she does, she composed this poem:”

when I would wander into the kitchen
for the third time
in 37 minutes
shoulders curved into a question mark
waiting for the perfect opportunity to ask her
for something
my mother
in all her motherly wisdom
would say

As if I didn’t carry you for 9 months
and push you from this body. what is it you
want girl?
el que no habla Dios no lo escucha

if you don’t speak God can’t hear you

It might have been the fear
of being
so quiet
that my creator would become deaf to my very

the hurry up and spit it out already
that mothers have of forcing their offspring
to speak

Might have been the height the color
of language the how did you learn English
the name that stumped teachers who smelled
like stale coffee and cigarettes
the shhhhhhh not
right now

The 7a.m. reception desk temp job
at the fancy designer label
I wore the same shoes to every day
where no one noticed my pen and paper
hiding the diary in religion class
mom finding it
under the bed

might have been the you’re that girl
who beat me at the slam last week
the but
what will people think
if you talk
about that
in public?

might have been stories of grandmas
with a child on one hip
and a silent song swinging from the other

could have been anything
that encouraged the hand the mouth
the loud the shout
the story the telling

must have been something
made me think I was special enough
to speak to scream
to stand up straight
special enough to ask
God to listen
to me

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