Meet a Judge: Alondra Bobadilla
July 16, 2020
Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Contest judges are artists, writers, environmental scientists, historians, marine educators, poets, filmmakers, composers, science communicators, and classroom teachers. Meet Poetry Judge and Boston’s Youth Poet Laureate Alondra Bobadilla through this conversation with our Intern and young poet Akhila Bandlora.
First, what’s your name, and what’s your main artistic medium? And what work have you done in that medium?

My name is Alondra. My main medium is poetry, though I like a lot of art forms. Before quarantine, I would just write wherever, whenever, and at all times. It wasn’t like I picked a separate time or quiet space. I was always constantly crafting. And now, in quarantine, it’s kind of the same thing. I very much find inspiration from what’s around me, and then, I just sit and I write and I craft.

That’s so good! I definitely need to preserve more quiet space for myself to craft. Can you talk a little bit more about your work with the Boston Youth Poet Laureate Program?

So, I am the first Boston Youth Poet Laureate. I’m still in a state of shock. I got busy right away, not just because of youth poet laureate stuff, but I was also in my junior year. I didn’t have time to sit down and think about it. The Boston Youth Poet Laureate Program puts a big emphasis on a love for serving the community. That’s why as soon as I read the description, it was something I wanted to do. The program wasn’t just about having someone who loved poetry and was a good writer. They had an emphasis on ensuring that the Youth Poet Laureate would represent the Greater Boston community and wanted the community to thrive by using poetry as a medium to do that. That’s what caught my attention from the beginning. Of course, it’s an artistic role, but I’ve been performing a lot of poems that have to do with community struggles and social issues.

What has been bringing you joy, creatively or otherwise?

Ooh! One of the most important things to me is my faith; God always brings me joy. Then, my family brings me a lot of joy. My brother lives with us now, and having him be there all the time takes me back to when I was a kid. He’s always buying board games and finding stuff for us to do, so that brings me a lot of joy. His presence adds to our whole life.

How did you learn of Bow Seat, and how long have you been a judge?

It came in as an invitation, so I learned about it from the person who coordinates events for the Poet Laureates. I said yes because I thought it was really interesting. This is actually my first year being a judge. I’m still very expectant as to what’s going to happen next since I’ve never had to judge anything before; to be put in a situation where I kind of have to is intriguing. I’m excited to see the work and be in the process itself.

I think you’re going to be an amazing judge. What do you think the role of poetry is in the environmental justice movement?

Oftentimes, when we think about poetry, we think of written word rather than spoken word. But, if you think about it, all of these stories that we pass around started off as spoken word. Voice is so impactful. These stories carry and they pass, and even if you’re not constantly thinking of a story, it will come up at the right place and the right time. The role of poetry is to break some of these things down for people that might not understand all the statistics being thrown at them.

I feel like there’s something for everyone. I think poetry not only helps bring people together, but also explains things in such a way that I don’t think statistics can because it makes it more real, more personal, more testimonial. It’s a perfect outlet for people in the movement themselves and to get to people outside the movement to understand. I feel like poetry is a common cross-cultural thing that we all enjoy. If we use it to deal with these big social-political-civic issues, it will get to a wider range of people.

Yes, snaps. That’s what I always tell people. I think poetry makes the whole movement so much more accessible. How did you get into poetry?

Well, I always loved writing as a whole. In an academic space, I tended to thrive when it came to writing. I didn’t really like anything else. That’s a lie, but writing was my thing. I don’t really remember how I got into poetry. I’m assuming I stumbled onto some poetry-esque book. But, I just started writing poetry, and it fit me better than other types of creative writing.

Poetry felt like me. It feels like it suits me, and it’s coming from me and it’s coming naturally.

But, it was always to myself. I kept it to myself because I didn’t know where to go. There were no poetry clubs at my school. Boston isn’t known for the arts that much either, but we have a lot of wonderful artists.

The first time I got to showcase my work was in church youth group, which was surprising to me because I never saw the youth groups getting involved in the arts; in Hispanic culture, some churches view the arts as taboo, interestingly enough. That youth group didn’t see it that way, so they gave me a platform to be able to speak and play with my spoken word. From there, I was able to read at two events, and then I took a pause. Then, the Youth Poet Laureate opportunity came, which is like the most official space I’ve been able to get in.

Tell me more about the youth art scene in Boston.

We don’t have enough programs for youth. That’s why the Youth Poet Laureate Program was such a big deal. Like, good job Boston, finally. It’s a very underground scene. These kids are everywhere. It’s definitely becoming more organized in a sense. Here you’ll get kids who live in the projects who will buy their own stuff with their own money working their two jobs to build their own recording studios at home. Kids here love the arts. They really go hard for it.

What’s your favorite community organization that deserves more attention and money than it gets?

LIPGLOSS! They organize around empowering young girls, where they bring smaller organizations up with them. I like what they do, and they deserve more.

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Meet a Judge: Alondra Bobadilla

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