Elhondra’s and Julio’s Excellent Adventure

Julio Delgadillo and Elhondra Brazzle smile for the camera.

Elhondra Brazzle and Julio Delgadillo.

A week ago yesterday they were swept up in a whirlwind.

That evening Julio Delgadillo and Elhondra Brazzle attended the premiere of RunDSM: The Doc at Fleur Cinema. They were among the student-poets featured in the film that chronicles the rise of a district program highlighted by spoken word poetry and a cutting edge curriculum in urban leadership.

On Saturday morning they flew to Washington D.C. to compete in a youth poetry slam that was part of the Library of Congress’s annual National Book Festival. Their trip was all-expenses-paid because they were invited based on their performances as part of the DMPS team at last summer’s Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival in Washington.

Saturday evening, they slugged it out against peer poets from D.C., New York City and Indianapolis and delivered a powerful one-two punch. Elhondra finished first. Julio finished second.

Sunday morning they flew home.

Monday they were back at school and Tuesday afternoon they were back at RunDSM afterschool workshops in their home high schools. Elhondra is a senior at East. Julio is a senior at North. And Thursday afternoon there they both were, as usual, at the weekly workshop downtown in the Des Moines Social Club where students from all over the district come together to work on taking their poetry “from the page to the stage,” as teacher and program co-founder Kristopher Rollins likes to put it.

By then the whirlwind had calmed and set them back down, feet firmly on the ground.

“Yeah, we got some high-fives and congratulations,” Elhondra said. “But then it was like Words (Taylor, a RunDSM mentor) told us: ‘Alright, that’s great, now let’s get back to work.’”

Julio isn’t THAT impressed with himself anyway. “Nobody is harder on me than I am,” he said, smiling.

Mainstage speakers at the NBF included Stephen King, Bob Woodward, Salmon Rushdie and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Teen poets from Des Moines might have been excused had they arrived awestruck. But that is not who these two are. They’ve got unfinished business.

Elhondra is planning to go on to the University of Wisconsin next year to study art(s). Her poetry is ferocious.

Julio wants to go to Arizona State and become an aerospace engineer. You know, shoot for the stars.

In the meantime, here they are. Thursday at the regular weekly workshop they were just two faces in the crowd of an overflowing room, back among friends – and back at work.

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