What I’m About…

A LAMBDA fellow, Charan P. is a poet/educator/performer transplanted from Chicago to New York. She has been teaching Race, Class & Politics through literature in the NY public schools for the past seven years. Poetry takes its rightful place in her life–neck and neck with teaching. She has performed as a feature poet for various audiences throughout Chicago, New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Virginia. Charan P has shared a stage with artists such as Gill Scott-Heron, Lemon Anderson, The Last Poets, Staceyann Chin, Toni Blackman, Kelly Tsai, Tara Betts and others. Her work fuels public dialogue around the destructive nature of colorism, homophobia and war by revealing the ways in which they weave themselves into societal perception, personal history. Of course, sometimes her work is just about being human.

AS ARTIST (Blurring the lines between personal & political)
I am a believer that you can always find light in the darkest of places. It is in those places that my work begins. My writing draws parallels between my personal and inherited interactions with colorism, homophobia and the effects of war among other social issues. It often highlights figures depicted in the media whose stories pass through public view and are typically not heard from again. These people tend to be silenced through violence, incarceration, death or their own demons. I record their relevance in today’s world, giving life and immortality to their stories and my own among them.

The stories of these people are essential to understanding the complex communities in which we live. It is crucial that they be heard in order to evolve a social vision that affirms the value and humanity within our differences. I perform my work as a contribution towards a humanistic paradigm shift for a future in which difference is no longer feared, marginalized and forced into silence.

On a strictly personal note…
My work also grapples with personal struggles surrounding my family and other relationships. I also seek to create a mutually affirming relationship between myself and those who read/listen to my work. I do this in the hopes that everyone involved will gain more of the energy/impetus needed to re-evaluate these experiences in order to pursue their own personal growth, which is often extremely painful to search for.

Someone once said to me that it’s one thing to be an ancestor that is praised, by virtue of the fact that you have become an ancestor. But it is another to be an ancestor to which people pay respect because the person that you were while manifested in the physical form, was someone worth paying homage to.

I seek to become an ancestor worthy of people’s respect not only through my work as a writer, but through educator. It is through these two roles and the relationships I cultivate around them that I give and receive my life’s energy. The experiences and issues on which I am most compelled to write are the same ones in which I am so compelled to impassion my students.

I seek to engage this current generation of youth into critical dialogue about the world around them by building pedagogy and curriculum that equips them with the tools to do so. I aim to push my students to approach the world with a certain level of open-mindedness that compel them to challenge their assumptions about the world and the people within it. I aim to convey to my students the value inherent in the type of education that comes from dialogue. My hope is that my students will continuously engage in inner and collective dialogues about how they can be tools for social change.

By playing the roles of sometimes their older sister, mother, sister, college advisor, listener, and even friend sometimes I work to establish relationships with my students that have spaces for them share their personal struggles when they need to look to someone else for guidance. I seek to help students affirm who they are in the midst of navigating their struggles. In turn I find that the relationships that we create not only as teacher and student, but as humans, are also self affirming for me as well.

By truly pursuing my own personal growth as well as that within my students and people who encounter my writing, I seek to create active dialogue around the critical issues of our time, which is so much a part of our daily struggles. And through these endeavors I will become an ancestor truly be worthy of my people’s praise.

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