URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)- The can you hear me now poetry contest is the first part of a four-part series. organizer Leslie smith says the series can help impact the community. “It can help transform, educate, and inspire a community by using the cultural arts as a platform to alleviate violence,” said Smith. She was first inspired to help alleviate violence from her personal experiences with it. “My son was shot a couple of years ago; he was not the intended target he happened to be with the wrong people at the wrong time,” said Smith. She feels a way to curb this violence is by putting your emotions to paper, which some did at the spoken word. Many are letting out their frustration regarding racism, or some talked about what they’ve gone through, like feeling excluded in society.
Achly Ramos moved from Puerto Rico and was struggling to fit in, and she hopes her poems can inspire other people feeling the same. “It has been my dream since I was a kid like I have always tried to do something to inspire other people,” said Ramos. She wants people to take away the message of “someone is there for you. “They can speak to other people, they can find someone to trust they don’t need to stay with that in the heart because I know the feeling of trying to say something, but you’re quiet because nobody is going to understand you or you think that nobody is like you”, said Ramos.