GABRIELA ROMERO, 16
Gabriela Romero is from Los Angeles, California, and enjoys activities that fill her with a sense of accomplishment, such as reading, running, and writing. When she is not running track or doing homework, Romero spends her time hiking and volunteering at 826LA, a creative writing and tutoring center. Volunteering at the tutoring center is especially gratifying for her because it’s an opportunity to support a place and people that have supported her.
Writing allows Romero to imagine and construct new worlds and communicate her ideas effectively. She has been a finalist three years in a row for the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate (2016, 2017, and 2018) and has been a guest speaker for Tell Me A Story, a 2017 fundraising event for 826LA. Romero draws inspiration from Benjamin Alire Sáenz, an American writer and poet whose writing style makes his characters come alive. She admires the accessibility and restraint of his prose, which she says gently simplifies the complex nature of humans.
Romero is a passionate proponent of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM), the elimination of which has put children who have lived in the United States all of their lives in a precarious situation. No matter their skill level, ability, or education, the elimination of the DREAM Act makes enrolling in higher education and professional occupations unreachable for the DREAMers who have grown up in the U.S. The lack of a pathway for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to obtain citizenship means that they will likely be barred from applying for college and can be expelled from the country that they have grown to call home.
by Gabriela Romero
I haven’t experienced grief or everlasting pain.
Haven’t experienced the death of a loved one,
& the ones who have passed I didn't know enough about.
Didn't know enough to write about the sadness that took hold.
Wasn’t able to compose a new and powerful, heartbreaking poem.
I haven't been harassed.
Haven't been demeaned for being Latina or being a woman
(I say woman, but I mean look at me I can pass for an eighth grader).
I apologize for not being overly enthusiastic about my words,
about not making things rhyme
and not changing the tone of my voice to impact an audience I know doesn't care.
I apologize for writing in this format.
To write this in a way that makes it sound like,
what I'm declaring is more important than the person that's up next.
I have no concrete problem or plot.
This poem is simply me,
rambling and piecing together different acts of who I am and what I think.
I’m sorry that I can’t preach about the unfairness of this world,
I just can’t find it in myself to genuinely care.
I’m sorry that my actions may offend you
but the one who is most insulted at the moment
because everything I believe in,
about being quiet and not harsh and rude and impolite
are coming out.
I'm not having an existential crisis about
how the curve of a girls spine might inflict a deeper inclination
than the rougher edges of a high school boy.
Other authors have the pain of things only known to them.
Their anger and passion of untold scenarios leads them on.
Yet, the only downfall in my life is the inability to write.
Other authors may feel the need to express themselves truly,
to talk about themselves.
I can’t do that
because I can’t even talk about myself
I could compare thee to a new spring full of lush greens
and the smell of rain in an urban setting.
But what truth is that?
I can’t write about something deep and personal
because even I don’t know what’s in here.
I would much rather prefer to write about a made-up character,
where I can display what others think and make their emotions and characteristics appear as real as I could possibly make them.
I can’t .
I can’t .
One day however,
I hopefully will.