Here is my SCREAM
I became aware of how much I wanted to tell my story the day I was asked to write an essay about how I became a poetess. I was faced with looking at the inner depths of myself and the hidden truths and pains I hadn’t yet overcome. I realized important facts about my life that led me to writing, despite how difficult they were to admit and endure. Writing that essay wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. It cost me blood and tears, and to tell the truth, I wrote it with the fear of being exposed, with the anxiety of knowing a part of me would be out there for unknown eyes to see. I wrote it, but I still cannot re-read it. It was too painful.
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I faced a very agonizing process overcoming it, and a difficult post-surgery recovery. I became a very dark person and from this experience, I became somewhat of a hermit. I used writing to journal about my fears, doubts, angers, and stresses to alleviate my pain. One day I was reading through my notes, and I realized the power of my own writing. I had finally discovered my inner voice. I thought that if journaling helped me, then maybe it could help other women too. I wanted to know their stories and to do that, I knew I had to tell my own for them to read.
Even though my illness was discovered just in time and I did not have to go through the difficulties of chemotherapy, no words can describe the emotional, psychological, monetary, social, and physical challenges that the news brought me. I was in the middle of my youth, with so many plans for the future that were unfulfilled. I was at the top of my career, in a well-paid position, with a man I cared for by my side who had a smile that lit the sun. I had all the little things that many can only dream of, and losing it all in a blink of an eye at the sound of 3 words – You have Cancer, was something I never expected. I took a quiet look at the doctor’s lips as they moved in slow motion and suddenly, his words were silent to me. I felt like life hit me where it hurt the most. Cancer is called the silent killer, and I learned this the hard way.
Listening to my own voice gave me a new resolution to complete an unfinished idea. It gave me direction towards founding the Women Poets International Movement (MPI). I founded MPI when I was all alone at home facing unemployment, depression, and sinking into the turbulence that was wrapped around me. As I sat there alone, my computer became my best friend and gave my writing a fresh new direction, and somehow, a sense of purpose. I met wonderful people- lots of women that were such good poetesses, but that didn’t have the time to explore their writing because of their household and family obligations. These women were powerful and just didn’t even have a clue of how much good they could do by sharing their words with others. They were women lost in the ordinary, just like me.
Women Poets International was born on the internet as a blog to share the writing of these new friends who wrote poetry. I found strong voices of women who wanted a chance to become more. They are women of hope who support a dream I believed in and make it their dream too.
One night the idea of creating a poetry festival for those women to participate in came to me and stole my sleep. There was no way I could gather the women together since I didn’t have the resources to host an event that big. So I asked them to create events individually in their own cities with the help of other women that followed the movement. Now these women could meet each other and share their experiences and their poetry plus, the bonus of becoming part of an international poetry festival. To my surprise, many of them agreed to launch events locally, but it wasn’t until the news about a poetess who was killed in Mexico while claiming justice for the murder of her daughter due to domestic violence, that I knew our festival needed to grow and become greater than it was by giving it a sense of purpose. I understood that our festival would have to pursue a goal that mattered to us all; it had to be our SCREAM. So, I founded the Woman Scream International Poetry Festival (Grito de Mujer) to honor women and to raise our voices against violence through poetry for the first time in March 2011. It spread its wings to 17 countries where 44 events were created by women poetesses, non-poetesses and even 4 men who supported our cause.
Now many institutions, poetic groups, musicians, actors (both women and men), and events in different countries and languages want to be part of Woman Scream. The dream that began in the Dominican Republic transcended Latin America and Europe to the 5 continents, to plant the seeds of what we hope to convert into humanity’s patrimony. We believe that letting some of these women coordinate events in their own cities empowers them, and engages the leader that has been sleeping inside them. We are aware that achieving this for some is a total challenge, but we also know by fact how enriching the experience can be.Woman Scream (Grito de Mujer) is a legacy for the world. We thank the women who supported us in the beginning and that still help us today. They’ll never be the same after they SCREAM.