Get to know Spoken Word Poet, Sydney Valerio and see for yourself why Spoken Word New York is spotlighting this Bronx Rising Star!
SWNY: What exactly do you do in the art of spoken word poetry and how did you get started?
Ahh, yes – in the art of spoken word poetry I let the audience hear the 34-year-old lining of my left foot’s sole. The part of my body that has carried the most weight in my life’s journey and can have you smile, laugh, cry or try to ignore me. I attempt to give voice to my life’s experiences and observations via the art of spoken word poetry. I say ‘attempt’ because there are experiences and realities that I have witnessed that I am still ‘unpacking’. My cultural identity, my Bronx upbringing, and my professional trajectory are all aspects of my life that I attempt to unpack – not dissect – via my writing. I fancy myself a socio-cultural-anthropologist-type poet, attempting to triangulate at times and make observations about the different social spaces I navigate while, at the same time, documenting my life’s story. It is time that as a community we document what we witness and experience. I became involved in the New York City spoken word poetry community via the Sunday Writing Circle writers’ workshop organized by Latanya DeVaughn’s Full Circle Ensemble (Latanya: gracias, boss lady!). My cuzzo, Vanessa, was part of it and I have always admired her voice. The entire Full Circle Ensemble writing community, ranging from its director, Chulisi Rodriguez, to its writers – welcomed me and this is what got me started.
SWNY: What is Spoken Word Poetry to you?
Spoken word is the act of giving a voice to the words that you’ve written onto a page. I think it was Algarin who said that a poem isn’t written until it has been read. I see it the same way; basically, giving life to your words.
SWNY: How long have you been doing Spoken Word Poetry and what made you begin?
My journey through the various social circles I belong to led me to the point I reached a year ago: I decided to share my personal voice socially rather than only sharing my community-organizing-youth-developing-pedagogy-professing-adulting voice. This is not to say that spoken word is not ‘adulting’.
Spoken word poetry is where you hear my personal voice and not the one that has to constrain itself to the politics involved in the adulting world. Anyone who knows me on a personal level knows my voice has always been figurative and poetic. I can tell you that I have been formally doing spoken word for a year on the ‘scene’. Many who know me would tell you that is a lie. They would tell you that I have been doing spoken word poetry all of my life, just on a different stage. Gratefully, my Bronx upbringing always provided me with a variety of ‘stages’ to use my voice to address and uplift my community.
A year ago I joined the Full Circle Ensemble and became a part of a circle of individuals whose platform invited my voice onto their stage. It was an opportunity to share my humanity and to witness the beautiful humanity of others. At that point, I became aware of how I had reached a point in my personal development to provide my personal voice the space to develop on a social stage. What made me begin sharing my voice through spoken word poetry is the Bronx-kid inside of me whose experiences haven’t been shared. It is a voice that understands and has a firm grasp on the societal changes that are currently occurring socially and culturally in New York City. This voice is one that deserves the same kind of diligence I applied to the voice that has created my professional career.
“Make it your business to see this amazing performer! Her storytelling amazes me every time. Sydney Valerio has a way of including you on her journey, not just showing it to you.” ~ Tonysha DeChecchi of The DOJO – 36 Chambers of Word