Celebrating Latinx voices and culture

We are nearing the end of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month, but we still have so much to share with you. King County Metro’s very own, Penny Lara, has shared with us a video of her and her family reciting one of her favorite poems – “A Callarse (Keeping Quiet).” She has also shared the significance poetry has in her culture. Read more to learn more about Penny’s story, and view the video below. 

By Penny Lara, Transportation Planner III, Metro Transit

Growing up in Mexico, poetry has always been a part of my family. My dad, Ramón Lara born in Zacatecas, Mexico (1936-2000), was a romantic at heart and was always writing poems on napkins, receipts etc. This video, below, is a sample of his art.

Pictured: Penny Lara’s father, Ramon Lara, wrote this poem on the back of a receipt in 1992.

I share this video as I was recently reminded by the power of words and how beautifully they play in my ear. A couple of weeks ago I was in a COVID-19 taskforce meeting and after months of working long hours, while adapting to working remotely, all of us were feeling the effects. One team member had the brilliant idea of adding a poetry reading, song, or film/book review at the end of our meetings to end on a light note. At the following meeting, one of the leaders said they were going to read a poem by a Chilean poet and I found myself getting giddy with excitement. By the time they were done, tears were running down my cheeks. In those few minutes, I relived beautiful memories from my home. One specific memory was how my sister, when we were little, would always recite poems in an overly dramatic way, displaying intensity of a broken-hearted person. We still joke about that!

Since the meeting, I started reading poems again as a way to ground myself after a long day of work. Given it is Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, I thought it might be nice to share one of my favorite poems with my friends and colleagues. I asked my children to join me and I was so delighted when they said yes. They don’t know it, but this is probably one of the best gifts they have given me and their Grandmother. While raising my children, honoring our roots has been a priority. I am very grateful for the contributions of my ancestors to America and I couldn’t be prouder of being Mexican-American.

Soy de aquí y de allá.
I am from here and I am from there.

If you are a Latinx employee and you would like to share a short video for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, please contact KCLx Co-Events Chair, Margarita Aguado. To learn more about the Latinx Affinity Group, and other King County Affinity Groups, visit www.kingcounty.gov/AffinityGroups.