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NY State Poet Addresses School for Hispanic Heritage Month

NY State Poet Addresses School for Hispanic Heritage Month

NY State Poet Addresses School for Hispanic Heritage Month


Mr. Perdomo visited Creative Writing and Spanish classes, met with clubs, and spoke in All-School Meeting.

Staff Writer

October 12, 2023

Ethan Choi '26 and Daniel Zhang '26

On Friday, September 29, the community welcomed nationally-recognized New York State Poet Willie Perdomo as part of the school’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Mr. Perdomo is a Puerto Rican writer and an English teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy. He is also a National Book Critics Circle Awards finalist, a Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award finalist, and recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. 

Mr. Perdomo’s visit was arranged with the help of three members from the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Council — Mr. Dave Thompson, director of international programs, Dr. Gerardo Molinari, assistant director of DEI, and Mr. Ricardo Diaz Ortiz, co-director of DEI. Mr. Diaz said, “I first worked with Mr. Perdomo at Exeter. We believed that his poetry and his connection with students would make him an amazing fit for the program.” 

Mr. Perdomo’s rhythmic poetry invited students into his Puerto Rican heritage. He alternated between the use of Spanish and English during the reading. 

Solfe Lopez ’24, co-head of De Colores, said, “I find myself not being able to speak Spanish often at Hotchkiss; however, his poems gave me a sense of representation of my Hispanic identity.” Mr. Diaz agreed, saying, “Mr. Perdomo expressed a whole part of me that is not expressed in my daily life here. At Hotchkiss, I find myself only speaking English, which limits my Hispanic identity from being expressed regularly. Through Mr. Perdomo, it felt as if Spanish became a normalized part of Hotchkiss.” 

When asked about their reaction towards the switch between languages mid-poem, Callum Rodin ’25 said, “I realized that not understanding Spanish was the barrier Mr. Perdomo imposed upon the non-Spanish speaking students. It was interesting to see this barrier in both the all-school meeting and our all-school read, Borderlands: La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua.” 

In addition to Mr. Perdomo’s keynote and Q&A with students during All-School, Mr. Perdomo also engaged with students in classrooms and clubs. 

De Colores members were able to join him for a meal. Alessandro Araujo ’26, said, “It was nice to talk to someone from the Hispanic community. Sharing our experiences brought the small but tight-knit Hispanic community here at Hotchkiss."

Daniel Zhang is a staff writer for The Record.

November 16th

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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