Name: Sharyl Cubero
Class Standing: Freshman
Major: Biology, Pre-Medicine
Interviewed by Adriana Santana
Why did you start getting into poetry?
One time in school we had to write a poem for an assignment, and I had such a good time writing it. I really liked it, and then my teacher showed my class a spoken word video. I thought, “Oh, that’s super cool, I wanna try that!” so in class I did a spoken word piece and I thought it was great. What’s interesting is my English teacher at the time is now Dean (Renee) Paddock at Lamson Hall, and she’s really the person who got me interested in it.
What has made you continue with poetry now?
Actually, when I got to Andrews is when I started to do it, because in high school I did one poem at a program and it was good but I was really emotional afterwards and I didn't want to do it again because of how it made me feel. However, I was asked to participate in the Miss Andrews pageant, and they asked if I had a special talent and I said no. I don’t think I’m a good solo singer, and I went through all the cliché talents until I was like, “Wait, I can do a poem!” So after the pageant I realized it was something I could keep doing that I really like; since then I’ve been asked to participate in certain things. So over time, I’ve seen the need to get a voice out there, and I think that spoken word is one of the ways I can do it.
What do you draw inspiration from when writing poetry?
Most of my poems deal with social justice, places where I’ve seen faults in society, and that’s where I draw it from—giving a voice to the voiceless. Also, most of my poems stem from personal struggle, and how I’ve noticed things and dealt with them. I’ve tried to do a few love poems and they just don’t always click the same way because I guess I’m not as passionate in that field yet. It’s something I’m working on and I’m forcing myself to do it and make myself feel uncomfortable. There’s a quote where it says art is supposed to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable, and I think that’s so important. In my poems I like there to be a shock factor to them, and in the past I’ve been told, “No, you can’t do this poem because it’s not the right place, we don’t want people to feel uncomfortable,” or it’s too controversial and I think it’s important to do and have. It shouldn’t always be about what you want to hear all the time; you need have people telling you what you think isn’t always right and I need that too. There’s a discussion, because before I write a poem I always ask people how—whatever the topic I’m writing about—has affected them. So I always like to have people’s opinions because I might not get the full range, and I want to be super informed about something before I present it in front of other people.
So you performed “Welcome to America” at New Life Fellowship. What feelings did you draw from when you wrote that poem?
I am somebody who is very involved with politics. So when the DNC was in Philadelphia I got to see Jill Stein from the Green Party and Bernie Sanders live at one of his rallies. So whenever I saw that it was between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and he was basing his campaign on “Making America Great Again” I was thinking from the viewpoint of an immigrant. Of course, there are people who think America is the greatest country in the world and I think America is a great place too. However, as far as making America great again, where does that stem from? Because if you really notice in history, and even in present-day there a lot of problems and I wanted to call them out. We’ve been so blinded by what we hear, and I called it out. I talked about how this country was founded on the genocide of Native Americans or how Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water. So that’s where it came from, it came from deep feelings and when I wrote the poem for the slam it was right before the election. I remember being so riled up and wanting something so badly, and since everybody was politically-affiliated I wanted to write something about America and politics.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to get into poetry and spoken word?
If you’re interested, definitely go out. On campus you can join The Sound, which meets on alternate Thursdays at 7 p.m., and it’s especially good if you’re a beginning poet. I’d also say if you have something that you’ve written don’t be hesitant to share it—we have The Nest and different forums. If you’re nervous about performing in front of people just perform it in front of your friends, even in front of the mirror for yourself. You need to hear it too. One opinion can change the world and you should share it. It’s also a good way to de-stress yourself.