Kansas writer Huascar Medina talks poetry, influences at May Our Voices Ring True

The Dusty Bookshelf offers an expansive collection of books, with one of the genres being Young Adult. (Katelin Woods | Collegian Media Group)

Wednesday evening in the Bluemont room of the student union, Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs hosted May Our Voices Ring True. This event featured guest speaker Huascar Medina, a state-recognized poet and playwright.

“I’m trying to have a conversation about truth. My truth…truth, because truth is malleable. Truth can change. Every person has their own truth. Everyone can share with someone else, and they realize that their convictions can change,” Medina said. “I’m going to use truth … to be seen as another person. Not as a person of color, not as a Hispanic male, not a Latino. I want to be seen as a Kansan living in Kansas.

Medina, following a brief introduction, began by reading a few of the poems he considers himself most inspired by.

Growing up in Topeka, Kansas, Medina was shaped by his environment. Topeka’s Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble honored him by performing his play “Theodore’s Love” in 2018. Medina is the seventh Poet Laureate in the state (2019-2021), as well as the state’s first Latino Poet Laureate.

“I think, if you’re not interested in politics, you’re just kind of naive, because politics are very interested in you.” Medina said.

Many of Medina’s works are influenced by politics, in part because of his Puerto Rican heritage.

“The word ‘immigrant’ has such a negative connotation,” Medina said. “I don’t want to be called that anymore. I had to find a new word, so I made up a word; I’m a New American … I choose that because either we accept that we all live on indigenous land and we’re all immigrants, or that there are no borders and we are all New Americans. Those are the only two choices for us living on this land.”

This, he explained, is where his poem Nuevo Americano (New American) originated.

His poems are based on a variety of subjects, including his former hometown, San Antonio, Texas, his favorite poet Mary Oliver, and his personal battle with depression.

Spartan Press published Medina’s poetry collection “How To Hang The Moon” in 2017, and Medina released his book “Un Mango Grows in Kansas” earlier this year. Currently, Medina works as a freelance copywriter and literary editor for the magazine Seveneightfive. His works can be found in Latino World Review, Flint Hills Review, Finding Zen in Cow Town, and Kansas Time and Place Anthology of Poetry.