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Joaquin Zihuatanejo: Bio

Joaquín Zihuatanejo is a poet, spoken word artist, and award-winning teacher. Born and raised in the barrio of East Dallas, in his work Joaquín strives to capture the duality of the Chicano culture. Sometimes brutal, but always honest his work depicts the essence of barrio life, writing about a youth that existed somewhere between the streets of the barrio and the dream wanderings of a boy who found refuge in a world of stories and poems. Joaquín has been called by critics, “one of the most dynamic and passionate performance poets in the country, melding equal parts comedy, poetry, and dramatic monologue into a crowd-pleasing display of verbal fireworks…always thrilling, Joaquín’s hilariously manic presentation is full of compassion and nuance, never sacrificing substance for style, leading many to call him poetry slam’s answer to John Leguizamo.” A National Poetry Slam Finalist, Grand Slam Spoken Word Champion, and HBO Def Poet, Joaquín has performed his poetry at universities, conferences and poetry slams all over the Unites States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. In 2005, Joaquin was featured on season five of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry for HBO. Filmed in front of a live audience at the majestic Supper Club Theater just off Broadway in New York City, Joaquin performed in front of a capacity crowd and received a standing ovation for his performance. For seven years Joaquín was an award-winning English and creative writing public high school teacher for ninth and eleventh grade students inspiring a new collection of poems from the classroom entitled Stand Up and Be Heard. For the last four years Joaquin has taken a break from his teaching position to tour North America and Europe teaching workshops and performing his one man spoken word show at hundreds of colleges, universities, conferences and poetry slams. In his extensive journey as a professional performance poet, Joaquin has shared a stage with Billy Collins, Saul Williams, E. Lynn Harris, Alicia Keys, and Maya Angelou among others. He recently co-wrote and produced of fire and rain, a CD that is a spoken word collaboration with award-winning poet, Natasha Carrizosa. The project has been described as a testimony of life/love that spans from the barrios of East Dallas to the ghettos of the West Indies. Selections from of fire and rain were selected by Poetry in Motion to be published on posters on buses, light rail, and trains throughout The United States—the Poetry In Motion series attempts to capture the work of modern American poets alongside the work of the masters, other poets in this series included Wallace Stevens, Anne Bradstreet, and Seamus Heaney. Joaquín recently won the 2008 Individual World Poetry Slam Championship besting 77 poets representing cities all over North America, France and Australia. Due in part to this victory, Joaquín received a book deal with Wordsmith Press, to be published in the fall of 2010. Also, because of this victory Joaquín was the poet chosen to represent the U.S. at the 2009 World Cup of Poetry Slam in Paris, France, a competition that he won besting 13 poets from 13 different nations making him the number one ranked slam poet in the world on both sides of the Atlantic. He currently lives just north of his hometown of Dallas with his wife and two daughters. Joaquín has two passions in his life, his wife, Aída, and poetry, always in that order.