Baruch junior self publishes poetry collection about racial experiences

Courtesy of Marina Isabela Melendez

Courtesy of Marina Isabela Melendez

Ayse Kelce

Melendez has been writing poetry and fiction since she was young. “I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen,” she said. 

She previously thought her passion for writing started in middle school until she found a poetry book from when she was 9.

Melendez started working for Blossoming Brown Tears in October and it was out by February. 

Melendez is from South Jersey but she moved to New York City after starting college. 

She lived in the Upper East Side for a few months when she first moved. 

“Then I moved to Harlem, and the difference is so big. In Harlem, there is so much more community,” Melendez said, and she described Harlem as a safe space and an influence for her literary work.

“Yes, always be cautious wherever you are, but Harlem is so vibrant with culture and so inspiring,” Melendez said about the common misconception that Harlem is a dangerous neighborhood. 

“So many of the poems I have written in my book are inspired because of where I live,” she added.

The whole experience of writing an entire book has been not just an artistic journey for Melendez, but a personal one as well.

“It was personal but also less personal,” said Melendez about her first published collection, Blossoming Brown Tears

Her book also addresses many timely issues.

“It’s also about a big social and cultural problem and how I played a role in that.”

The main theme of the collection and its uniqueness for Melendez made it easier for her to put the words on paper.

Blossoming Brown Tears is mainly inspired by slam poetry. 

The intention behind the collection was to highlight Afro-Latinx culture in a way that it has not been before. 

“There was not a single poet, but an entire community that really inspired this collection. In terms of craft, definitely Professor Grace Schulman helped me improve my craft so much within a semester,” Melendez told The Ticker.

“All botanical gardens resting / in the United States of America / have been created by black people / Our Mother Earth / had wept for us / during the time of slavery / and segregation / in retribution / she gathered our tears / and carved seeds after their shape / and grew flowers / to lift our spirits toward the sun / to show the innate allure / of over a dozen colors,” reads “Blossoming Brown Tears,” the poem which also gave its name to the poetry collection. 

“I predominantly want to get my poetry out there so people know that they are not alone. Poetry helped me feel seen and understood, and I simply want to do that for other people.”

Self-publishing is not and easy job and is a lot of work but she really loved and enjoyed the whole process. 

“I wouldn’t want to self-publish a novel, because it is less personal. It is a story. But as for a poetry collection, it is personal and you get to be as creative as you want with it,” she said.

Melendez’s initial plan as an author is to focus on writing novels. 

She has been working on novels since she was 13, and she is currently in the process of sending queries to agents.

With the support and interest she got from social media, she is confident that she will have an agent by the end of the year. 

When she is not reading, writing or doing homework, Melendez teaches journalism to middle school and high school kids through a program called I WILL GRADUATE Youth Development Program.

“I love that job. It is so fun and rewarding,” said Melendez, describing the fulfilling nature of her job which combines teaching and her passion of writing.