Carlos Andrés Gómez has always used his poetry for a bigger purpose, and he sees the recent political climate to be about as big as it gets.
Born and raised in New York, Gómez is an award-winning poet who has performed on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. He's also an actor, a public speaker and writer who prides himself on his Colombian-American heritage.
“I’m in conversation with people who’ve been dead 400 years, and I’m in conversation with Donald Trump," Gómez told NBC Latino. "I’m in conversation with my abuelita (grandmother) who passed away four years ago and I’m in conversation with my 15 year old self, you know.”
Gómez said that poetry is "a conversation that’s always evolving," which makes it easy to adapt his work to an always-changing Trump presidency. He enjoys the fact that his art is performance-based, which many times creates a conversation around important political events.
Gómez most recently performed at the historic Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York, and performed "What’s Genocide?" He said he felt the need to again peform the poem because of the recent confirmations of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General and Betsy DeVos as education secretary.
The poem is based on a true story, which he says was inspired by the students and people he worked with throughout his time as a public school teacher and social worker.
"Carlos, what's genocide? Your books leave out Emmett Till and Medgar Evers," the poem goes.
In the early years of his career, Gómez contributed many years to educating and empowering communities in New York City. Gómez was a social worker and teacher in several New York neighborhoods including Center Harlem, the South Bronx, as well in northwest Philadelphia. Through his work, he has gained a sense of perspective that laces every line of his poetry.
“I was a substance abuse counselor, outreach worker, sexual health educator” Gómez said.
The concepts that make it onto stage with him are steeped in his life experiences.
But he also uses his poetry to bear witness to the life experiences of the marginalized, minorities and undocumented.
"It's important that we all say, 'Listen, we are in a time right now where we need for our voices to be loud ... This is going to be a really big fight," he said.