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‘The Poet Laureate of the Struggle’: Why Matt Sedillo is Considered One of the Best Political Poets in America

11:21 PM PST on December 5, 2018

[dropcap size=big]M[/dropcap]att Sedillo is a Chicano poet, writer, creative director, and public intellectual called “the poet laureate of the struggle” by Dr. Paul Ortiz and “the best political poet in America” by investigative journalist Greg Palast. He has been featured in over 80 colleges and universities and various media outlets including All Def Digital, Los Angeles Times, and C-SPAN.

Most of Matt’s work is politically dense due to his comprehension of U.S. history. “It helps me get a better grounding for things, while others just experience it but don’t know why. We only understand the slings and arrows we get in our day to day lives, but we don’t always understand the roots. For example John Pershing lead the Mexican Expedition against Pancho Villa. Yet people protest at Pershing Square, and don’t realize how offensive that is,” he says.

For Matt, it is not surprising to see someone like Donald Trump publicly characterize immigrants as criminals. However, he does caution against the suggestion that Trump is the only problem. He also opposes the idea that Trump isn’t a major issue.

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Matt says, “I do think Donald Trump is a hate-crime president. I don’t recall any president encouraging that kind of culture. The reason he took off is because more people in this country are becoming anti-Mexican and anti-Central American. Their political perspective is that too many brown people in America makes the United States, unamerican.”

[dropcap size=big]R[/dropcap]aised in El Sereno, Matt shares how the concept of a "wall" resonated with him even before Trump became president. “What I remember most is a frutería. I remember being a kid and my cousins throwing dirt rocks at these guys that were drinking out there. Over time they developed businesses and then they built a brick wall, and after that they put barbed wire to keep us from climbing over,” he notes. “It went from being a slice of Mexico to prison.”

Courtesy of Matt Sedillo.

When Matt turned five, he memorized every U.S. president’s name and by the age of seven, he was speaking in front of high school audiences. “At eight, my father told me I could never be president because I’m Mexican. It was hard for him to say that, but he thought it was something he was preparing me for,” Matt says.

He then decided to stray away from politics and aspired to become a writer instead.

In 2008, Matt visited an open mic in Pomona called a Mic and Dim Lights. This space moved him to infuse his two passions, politics and poetry. “I was like, ‘You know what? I can do this. I’m going to come back here and I’m going to do radical poetry. And they might not like me but they will respect me,’” he says.

Since then Matt has become a two-time national slam poet, a grand slam champion of the Damn Slam, and the Literary Director for the dA Center of the Arts. “By the time I’m 40, I want to be recognized as the poet laureate of history,” he adds. “I want to write in ways that feels like it was just always there, that doesn’t feel like it has an author. It just feels like, ‘of course.’”

For more information, visit Matt Sedillo’s website and blog. Below, an original poem:

RELATED: From a Stutter to the Tonight Show: How Rudy Francisco Became a Poetry Slam Champion

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