Andover’s Own Def Poet

Shantell Cueras’ vibratos silenced the room. An impressive feat indeed – especially at the age of thirteen. Cueras was one of two acts to open in Kemper Auditorium last Friday for acclaimed poet Anthony Morales ’98. The African Latino American Society arranged Morales’ visit for last week’s Latin Arts Weekend. After a brief introduction from Interim Dean of CAMD Linda Carter Griffith, Mr. Morales’ close friend Juma Waugh ’98 introduced the speaker as “a poet, a lecturer, a lover who speaks of the hidden rhythms of America.” Morales shocked the audience as soon as he opened his mouth. He spoke very quickly in a mixture of languages that was difficult to understand. It seemed as though he was speaking English, but at times certain Spanish words were also recognizable. However, the reason for his confusing speech was soon explained. “In the United States of America, we practice the language of oppression that people are looked down upon when they speak with accents and that speaking two languages at the same time is simply unacceptable,” said Morales. He continued, “One thing that I learned at Andover was the ability to question – to question the ‘fundamental,’ such as what is right or wrong, and how it is so. It’s a beautiful thing.” Beyond the foreign plane of his language, Morales’ character was both evolutionary and extraordinary. The more he read his poems, the more the audience became enchanted by the inexplicable spell of his words. Morales also spoke about his career at Andover – how he met his best friend, how he felt on the day of graduation, how he fell in love with his girlfriend, how he grew up in the Bronx, how his parents became isolated. He described the sentiment of hopelessness he felt along with other Puerto Ricans when the FBI assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Ríos on the day of their Independence. Morales’ ability to freely and artfully share such personal memories with a complete group of strangers was admirable. By the end of the evening, Morales had given both students and faculty alike a greater perspective and understanding of a culture perhaps entirely unfamiliar to many. Said Waugh, “He shares so much of himself that he almost becomes vulnerable, and I cannot have anything other than the purest respect for his sincerity and honesty.” Indeed, Waugh’s compliment proved itself true.