"Words create our world," says Class of 2010 graduate Elizabeth Acevedo, who now balances her own art with teaching.
A poet and spoken-word performer, Acevedo has performed everywhere from Lisner Auditorium to Madison Square Garden and from Brooklyn to L.A., and is the recipient of multiple awards.
"I think that my philosophy, and what I feel like a lot of my poetry reflects, is this idea of being able to recreate yourself," she said. "And, as human beings, every day brings an opportunity to change yourself, or to change something, or to completely rewrite your life."
Acevedo, a first-generation Latina and New York City native, feels lucky to be able to draw from her diverse experiences "of being of color, of being low-income, of being a woman" and of being a "minority of a minority of a minority."
"I think I can speak to a lot of different people because I can draw upon so many different sides of myself," she said.
The slam poet says performing, especially personal poetry, can sometimes be really difficult.
"I think that's where a lot of the training comes in," Acevedo said. "Just knowing when something is almost too close and not being able to share that, because. at the end of the day, you are a performer and you have to be able to control yourself and your emotions and give the audience almost exactly what you've rehearsed."
Acevedo said she rarely performs poetry before she knows she's crafted the performance into exactly what she wants. "The actual rawness of the wound - it's usually scabbed over by the time it gets on stage," she said.
Acevedo is living in D.C. and teaching eighth-grade English with Teach for America in Prince George's County, Md. She says she loves teaching and she is inspired by the students and the potential each student holds.
"It's such an interesting job. it's really inspired a lot of thinking and reflection," she said.
As for her plans after her three years with TFA are through, Acevedo said she wants to continue to teach, but doesn't know if "traditional teaching" will be her path of choice.
"A part of me really loves art and just teaching poetry," Acevedo said. She wants to look for ways to be a teacher and an artist and wants to "teach writing and poetry in particular."
Acevedo has toyed with the idea of opening a nonprofit organization incorporating the arts, writing and the education of young people.
"I always want to work with young people. with young adults in that age group. I think it's a great age group and an inspirational one," she said.
To Acevedo, "education is always going to be a big part of my life."
"I definitely want to continue writing and performing and doing as much nationally and internationally to create communication and just express myself."
Acevedo's next performance in the District will be this Sunday at the 7th annual Black L.U.V. Festival that runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.