By Bernice Sosa-Izquierdo
A bit ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the extremely talented freelance writer/editor, published author, performance poet, workshop facilitator, educator and mother, Vanessa Martir. The accomplished Latina is a natural beauty dressed in comfy clothes, no make-up, and a simple hair band proving to be as naturally beautiful on the inside, as she is out. La Loba, as we have come to know her, has always understood and embraced the existence and power of her inner light. A native of Bushwick, Brooklyn thirteen year old Vanessa was accepted to the ABC Program (A Better Chance) where she was sent away to Boarding School for several years. It was during this time she found herself trying to balance her place between two worlds – neither of which truly accepted her – while growing and evolving; coping, struggling with identity issues and surviving it all, alone. One day at a time, she led herself to Columbia University where she majored in Latino Studies and Sociology before becoming an editor. She has since: written her first novel, “A Woman’s Cry”; has had a short story featured in the anthology “Lipstick Diaries”; was associate writer/editor of “Do Something: Handbook for Young Activists” for which she won the 2009 Webby People’s Voice Award; and is currently finishing her second novel. Vanessa teaches Social Activism to youngsters through the art of writing, and participates in conferences benefiting our community such as La Herencia Latina’s Conference at NYU this past November. Martir’s passion for writing and working with children is undeniable. She is about nurturing communities: youth, Latino, urban and/or artistic.
Writing has served as her release, an escape from life’s hardships, as she is always “re-membering, re-aligning, re-inventing”. Vanessa emerges through life, like a butterfly with the soul of a wolf. The spiritual writer tends to speak in quotes, from time to time, noting inspiration from Anais Nin and Paulo Coehlo. The urge to honor her calling has manifested itself to the point she has made a career out of it – on her own. After beginning to explore her inner poet, and performing in venues such as: the East Harlem Café, The Nuyorican Poet’s Café, Notice Lounge, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, Vanessa created a place in the universe where events such as poetry slams do not exist. A place where “seasoned poets and newbies, alike, bless the mic” where poets are empowered by having people listen to their release, celebrating their love for poetry and its effect on people. About a year ago, Vanessa made the courageous decision to leave her job (but not without a thoughtful plan, first) to pursue her passion and, thus, La Loba was born. La Loba found herself birthing her second child: La Loba Poetry Series at the Lolita Bar in NYC where performers have the chance to shine once a month, proving “the brighter you shine, the more you show others they can shine, too.”
Before the successful career woman, comes the mother. La Loba is very dedicated to her six-year-old cub and it is clearly evident that every decision, every move she makes is laced with thoughts of her daughter’s best interest. Even at this tender age, Vanessa’s little girl knows what her mom does for a living and the pride and joy she feels doing what she loves most: “The greatest legacy I can leave my daughter is showing her she, too, can wear her power and be beautiful and own it and still be vibrant”. Martir admits she has always had to take her wings, “but that’s me. That’s always been me… figuring out my own path. I don’t know any other way to be (and) when you don’t know any other way to be, that comes natural”.
There is no one more dedicated, more determined, to play by society’s rules and still win in her journey. By refusing to shrink herself, La Loba is a special role model not just for her own daughter, but for many Latinas, writers, mothers, and women out there learning her story as she is powerful, compassionate, passionate and determined. The performer, who admits to hearing the Rocky theme song prior to stepping on stage, is a truly astonishing force. This Saturday, December 11th, 2010 La Loba invites us to the Lolita Bar as close friends and admirers will unite to commemorate the one year anniversary of La Loba Poetry Series along with La Loba’s own birthday. Here we will toast her life, her journey, where she has been, where she is and where she will go. It will certainly be a night to remember!
Click on the following link to hear Vanessa Martir speak about her inner loba, spirituality, life philosophies and her secret to getting ahead in the life race:
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