A Poet at Princeton

January 13, 2014
Jenesis Fonseca-Ledezma

I fell in love with poetry in elementary school. My fifth grade teacher was obsessed with William Shakespeare. He shared his excitement for Shakespearean plays and sonnets with all of his students. During reading-time, he often pointed at a classic, extra-large, black and white poster of Shakespeare’s face and beam, “This man, still lives because of his words. Words are everything, words are... life!” At the time, I didn’t fully understand what he meant, but I was fascinated by his enthusiasm. As I read Shakespeare’s works, I was inspired to write and began my own journey as a poet.

Classic, Black and White Shakespeare Image

During middle school and high school, I filled many composition notebooks with poetry and was asked to perform some of my poems for school-wide events. Thanks to YouTube, I found incredible spoken word poets that continue to influence my writing, including Andrea Gibson, Sarah Kay, and Sierra DeMulder.

During my first two years at Princeton, I wrote a few poems, but mainly focused on academics and community service. My junior year, everything changed. I met beautiful, talented peers who shared my passion for words. They wanted to form a poetry group called “Ellipses” and I joined in a heartbeat. We met weekly (in a cozy room at Spelman, an upperclass dormitory) to share our poems and offer each other feedback. In 2012, we were officially recognized as Princeton’s first spoken word organization! During our first year, we performed at open mics, led poetry workshops, competed against nearby colleges, and participated in the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Ellipses quickly became my family away from home. My team members have helped me understand my elementary school teacher’s wisdom; words are, indeed, everything.  Currently, I serve as co-president of this amazing team! I am so excited for the future of Ellipses and will continue to share my love for words through poetry. 

Image of Ellipses members performing for President Shirley Tilghman