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Alejandro Jimenez Mendoza

On Friday, September 16, the award event for the first Lidertura 2022 Poetry Contest was held in both virtual and face-to-face mode. It was sponsored by organizations related to Lidertura such as LACUHE, PazCaribe and the Municipal Public Library of Cereté, Rafael Milanés García. Following the introduction of the qualifying jury members, and the representatives of LACUHE and PazCaribe organizations, remarks were made by the Vice President of Lidertura, José Juan Hernández and its president, Samuel Acosta Ynoa. Then, the Director of Lidertura in Colombia, and the director of the Cereté Library, María Marcela Rhenals Petro, announced the winners of this contest. First place went to Alejandro Jiménez Mendoza with his poem ‘Esencia Sempiterna’ [sempiternal Essence].

Alejandro resides in Cereté, Córdoba, Colombia, with his family, from whom he learned values ​​such as responsibility, respect, discipline, and solidarity, which allowed him to mature fully during his time at school, standing out as an excellent student. At the age of twelve he was diagnosed with epilepsy, a disease which has not prevented him from always seeking solutions to his problems and following his dreams. He finished his high school studies at the Marceliano Polo Educational Institution. He is currently a software engineering student at the University of Cartagena.

He is passionate about reading and writing. By age eighteen he read numerous books on topics such as finance, science, fiction and non-fiction stories, personal growth, and personal relationships. He regularly visits his local library and there he shares his experiences with both young people and adults.

Here is an interview with Alejandro:

How did the desire to write arise in you?

—Expression, which is what I want to communicate…

A wish, the realization of something. I have always been a person who highly values ​​knowledge, and art in general, from the simplicity of a verse to the quirky picturesque representation of emotions. Questions like this make me reflect and look for a correct answer, between memories and intimate ideas, between opinions and voices that I hear. I have an innate desire to communicate what I am, what I think and believe, and defend my opinions. The desire to write arose in me from the need to continue stories, verses and paragraphs, to continue those stories I had read and had influenced my life. This need to give continuity to everything I read arose from nonconformity, from not accepting the purpose of each thing or not agreeing with certain endings, but from always thinking about more and more. In some way, it was just the beginning of a process. It represents the initial spark of fire igniting the thousands of stories that now live on each planet in my universe.

—Could you name some books which had a positive impact on your life?

The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

Creativity in 7 Verbs, by Catalina Zuleta.

The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri.

The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka.

Other ways of using the Mouth, by Rupi Kaur.

You won first place in the First Lidertura Poetry Contest 2022 with the poem Esencia Sempiterna [sempiternal Essence]. When you started writing it, what were you trying to convey with this poem?

—Poetry represents for me a way of writing beautiful and romantic verses, an egotistical exaltation of emotions and personal feelings, a resource you can only use when feelings of love for someone overflow your heart. Of course, what this represents has evolved for me, not only writing beautiful things, but writing things, realities and truths, imaginary contexts and lies, and of course, maintaining that poetic essence. In part, the concept I have about poetry has changed along with the way I see the world. I understand it and I try to change it, a concept I redefined thanks to the knowledge provided by teacher Catalina Pérez Gil in the poetry workshop developed by Lidertura. Now, poetry for me is synonymous with social testimony. Thanks to this conceptual redefinition, now, when writing poetry, I know what I'm doing, and I know why I'm doing it.

While writing I always keep three fundamental pillars in mind, "A what, a how and a why". What I wanted to convey with my poem was to share my perspective of the current world, the reality that is lived, and the contexts where protagonists are those people who still believe in themselves, whose religion is their own personal history, and a reality where nothing is absolute, where everything is relative. The premise, to represent the life of artists, not only those who have a title, but all those who with only their essence make art, those artists who find the art of living so difficult, those people who put their faces in the sun, and leave their shadows behind.

—What did it mean for you to have achieved first place in the Lidertura Poetic Contest 2022?

—I often say to myself: “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” I often do different things to be different from others, instead of being myself and worrying about proving something to someone. When I wrote my poem, I focused on letting my thoughts flow, giving freedom to my reflections and capturing everything I consider should be written. The writing process for me is something intimate and of great importance; as I mentioned before, I always keep in mind a what, a how and a why, so the process of writing this poem was no exception.

Now, thanks to my psychologist, I have learned the most important thing is not only the result, but also the process. Of course, having won the First Lidertura 2022 Poetry Contest means its the successful conclusion of a learning process I began when I joined Lidertura, guided by teacher Catalina Pérez Gil in the municipal public library of Cereté, Rafael Milanés García. Winning this contest represents a very important personal achievement. I remember when I first read my poems at school for many people; it was the beginning of Alejandro as a poet. This achievement also means the beginning of something great, just the beginning of more great writing; in general, it is a great motivation and inspiration for me.

How would you describe your Lidertura experience?

My experience in Lidertura...

I have been a member of Lidertura since, on the night of November 2, 2021, I sent an email to Samuel Acosta Ynoa, president and one of the founders of Lidertura. He was to be the special guest at a gathering held the day next in the Cereté library. In this way, my experience since I met Samuel, and formally began the Lidertura journey, has been a wonderful experience. I have focused on my artistic side as a writer, I have met artists and professionals with great experience and with whom I have had the honor of talking and learning a lot. I have been able to express myself freely, and I have learned and shared with my fellow writers, all young people from Cereté, with whom I have spent pleasant moments and valuable hours. Without a doubt, Lidertura has been a magnificent, enriching and valuable experience.

—What are your goals for this year 2022?

— I have already fulfilled some of the goals I set for myself when starting the First Cycle of Lidertura this year, among them being a finalist in both literary contests, the narrative and now the poetry.

Other goals for 2022 are the following:

• Carry out a project focused on the timely communication of ideas and projects at the university.

• Participate in the anthology organized by Lidertura, with my story “A vanilla dessert with strawberry cream” and the poem “Sempiternal Essence”.

• Create a personal project on the internet, in which I share my knowledge related to art, personal growth, history and identity of Cereté, and the career I am studying, software engineering.

• Grow with the Lidertura pilot team, for me as its social network manager, and assist this organization to help more people.

These are some of my motivations and goals for this year; I am also focused on continuing my personal growth and continuing to advance in my psychological treatment. In the same way, these goals would also be the beginning of something bigger, the realization of my ideals and desire to help the people of the municipality of Cereté.

—What advice would you give to young people who are thinking of starting to write?

—Based on what I have learned in this writing process, I would like to share, by way of advice, some elements and premises that have helped me get started in this art:

• It is valid to wait for inspiration to arrive, but I learned something thanks to a phrase that the teacher Mary Ely Marrero Pérez shared in a conversation in which I participated, a phrase by the artist Pablo Picasso: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

• Redefine your perspective on writing, make it a pillar of your existence.

• When writing, keep in mind a what, a how and a why.

• Break myths about what is correct or not correct to write.

• Do not feel forced to read all the great exponents of literature; read what makes you feel alive and wanting to write more.

Alejandro, as a young writer, and an autonomous leader and social witness in the municipality of Cereté, seeks, through his writings, to express his ideals and beliefs, being faithful to his essence, values ​​and objectives in life. With what he reads and writes, listens and says, he seeks to feed his desire to transcend, generate a positive change in his life and in the lives of the people around him, sharing his story, his thoughts and experiences, because after all, "Why fit in when we were born

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