Ekiwah Adler Belendez was born 3 months premature and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. As a result, he has never been able to walk and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. Belendez has been writing poetry since he could talk and uses disability as a creative force.
Belendez shared poetry of his own collection titled ‘Love On Wheels’ and some of his favorite poems by other artists to students and faculty Thursday night in the Smith Student Center Theatre. The event was part of the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival. Belendez often travels to high schools, colleges and performs at festivals in the U.S. and Mexico to share his poetry and was also featured on Dateline NBC for his accomplishments.
Belendez says poetry is up to the interpretation of the reader. No one really knows what it really means. Belendez relates closely to this because even though cerebral palsy is defined as a brain disorder, his brain scans are no different than other peoples.
Belendez read poems about sexuality, love, sadness and some comedic poems.
“I have this fantasy to do stand-up comedy because there would be an immediate irony in it,” Belendez laughed before reading a light-hearted comedic poem.
One piece of his own that Belendez shared titled ‘Walking,’ explained how when people tried to teach him to walk it was like trying to teach a dog to walk on its hind legs. He never quite reached the goal of walking, but he described how it felt to hold his two-year-old son’s hand as his son took his first steps.
“This is walking: so much more than learning how to move our feet,” Belendez said.
Belendez said he grew up in a small town in Mexico surrounded by mountains. Ever since he was young, his father would read to him and Belendez would look out at the mountains and felt like he was traveling through his father’s voice.
“There are so many places we can go without moving,” Belendez said.
Belendez said he wish he knew what exactly inspired him to start writing, but it was a little bit of everything.
“I see poetry as closely related to consciousness,” Belendez said. “Who knows how [life] all connects? But it does, through something I call poetry.”
Greg Josselyn, a friend of Belendez’ whom he met in college, came with Belendez from Boston.
They showed the audience a short play they created about the life of Belendez and how the two became great friends.
For Belendez, poetry is his freedom, as he portrayed in Spanish poem he wrote at age 13.
“Poetry is my way of dancing,” Belendez said.