Authors Shawn Welcome and Raymond Jimenez Speak at Valencia’s East Campus


Natalia Valazquez

Raymond Jimenez uses the white board in Building 8, Room 101 to inform attendees about poetry.

Mickenzie Hannon, Contributor

Authors Shawn Welcome and Raymond Jimenez visited Valencia East Campus and read some of their groundbreaking poems on Oct. 29.

Welcome shared that he viewed himself as “an average kid who got into rap his senior year of high school.” He continued, “Then it just evolved into this whole other world.”

Welcome advised aspiring writers to write about things they may not necessarily feel comfortable sharing. Welcome said, “Some of your best work will come from tapping into those scary places, things that you say you will never share with anyone or talk about. If you can find a way to capture some of it and wrap it into an art form, then it’s poetry. It may be some of your best work.”

At the end of the first session, Welcome encouraged attendees to visit the weekly “Diverse Word” event hosted at Dandelion Communitea Café. “It’s a pretty relaxed environment and we have different types of perspective and content. It’s just a place to saturate yourself with other writers, other speakers, and other angles in ways of communicating content,” Welcome said.

Welcome has lived in Orlando since 1993. He received his B.A. in English Literature at the University of Central Florida. In 2006, Welcome launched a poetry and life skills program for youth offenders at 33rd Street Jail. Welcome is also the founder of an open mic poetry night, “Diverse Word.” Performers of all kinds attend the weekly open mic night at Dandelion Communitea Café in Orlando, Florida.

The event consisted of two sessions, each being about two hours. Welcome spoke during the first session and Jimenez spoke during the second session.

Jimenez opened the second session by introducing himself and promoting his Etsy shop where he sells his artwork online. Jimenez described himself as “an artist trying to make a living doing pottery, poetry, art, sculpture,” and “looking for a way to put them all in a cake big enough to feed everyone.”

Jimenez started with a persona poem, written from the point of view of an object, that used the aspects of a dolphin and a shark to represent being part Puerto Rican and part Filipino and the overall society that we live in. He then went on to share another persona poem about his feelings toward shootings. 

Some of the concepts Jimenez developed as a visual artist, he said, “can actually apply to writing.” Jimenez added, “You just have to understand the limitations of each art form. Written art is exclusively a linear concept where things are revealed one at a time. Whereas, with visual, you have it all at once and experience it all at once.”

Jimenez is a full-time visual artist, mainly working with ceramics and sculpting, combining his writing and art together. Jimenez earned his B.F.A. at the University of Central Florida. He also competed in the National Poetry Slam in Denver, Colorado as a member of the 2017 Breaking Bad team. He placed second in the Blackberry Peach Poetry Contest and was also the first to win the 2018 Fusion Fest Haiku Contest in Orlando. Jimenez works in the Orlando Poetry Slam and organizes poetry nights in and around Orlando.

Valencia’s East Campus hosts three literary events during the fall semester that feature guest authors. The literary events are free to attend and refreshments are provided. The next literary event will feature author DaMaris B. Hill on November 19, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Building 8, Room 101 of Valencia’s East Campus.