Poetry Set to Music: Hope and Healing in the Latinx Community

In a unique fusion of music and poetry, Cal Poly Humboldt is hosting “Sana, Sana: Hope and Healing for Latinx Communities in Times of Precarity.” The free performance on Sunday, April 24 is inspired by a poetry contest on the theme of hope and healing in Latinx communities. 

The University Singers
The University Singers and conductor Rachel Samet, instructor of Music, helped bring to life a poem by student Alannah Guevara.

In a unique fusion of music and poetry, Cal Poly Humboldt is hosting “Sana, Sana: Hope and Healing for Latinx Communities in Times of Precarity.” The free performance on Sunday, April 24 is inspired by a poetry contest on the theme of hope and healing in Latinx communities. 

The contest and concert are a collaboration between the Cal Poly Humboldt College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, the School of Dance, Music & Theater as well as the Department of English and Cal Poly Humboldt’s multilingual literary journal Toyon

“‘Sana sana’ is taken from a well-known Latinx folk rhyme that’s told in a lot of Spanish speaking countries,” says Toyon faculty advisor Marcos Hernandez. “It means ‘heal, heal.’ Many of us have felt a profound sense of uncertainty about our future, about our children’s future, that comes with being brown in the United States. Sana, Sana speaks to how our communities have found ways to hope, heal, grow, and even thrive under the weight of this collectively felt uncertainty. The theme has become especially resonant during the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to disproportionately impact Black and Brown communities."

Cal Poly Humboldt student Alannah Guevara, a junior studying English, wrote the first-place poem “Fresh Fruit,” which explores complex themes of immigration and loss.

The project was made possible by a $5,000 Quick Grant from California Humanities,  to commission award-winning Venezuelan-American composer Carlos Cordero to write a choral setting for the poem. 

Cordero visited Humboldt in March to collaborate with Guevara, the Cal Poly Humboldt University Singers and their conductor Rachel Samet, instructor of Music, on a composition that would uplift Guevara’s words. Cordero also delivered a lecture on adapting the poetic form to music.

“It’s been such a dream,” says Guevara. “Getting to work with Carlos has been an incredible experience. He really likes to talk about what ‘Fresh Fruit’ means to him.  It’s so touching that my words could do that for somebody, and it takes my work to new heights I could never have imagined.”

Other winning poems, including “Orgullo” by Azarel Garcia and “From the dirt of our skin,” by Jo Gibson, were set to music by faculty composers and will be performed by Cal Poly Humboldt faculty and students. 

“It’s been a lovely process, especially because of the collaborative nature of this project,” says Samet, who is coordinating and performing at the concert. “The students are really invested in this project. It has felt very alive, like a living, breathing thing.”

“Sana, Sana: Hope and Healing for Latinx Communities in Times of Precarity”
Sunday, April 24, 2022
Pre-concert talk at 2:00 p.m. and concert at 3:00 p.m.

Fulkerson Recital Hall, Cal Poly Humboldt (FREE)
Free Livestream link:
https://youtu.be/wJTqnv-m9Ns

For more information, c
ontact Cal Poly Humboldt’s School of Dance, Music & Theatre at (707) 826-3566 or mus@humboldt.edu.