By Angelina Herrera and Mariyah Ramirez
Senior Enrique Hernandez had a very challenging childhood. Starting at the age of six or seven, Hernandez was taken out of his home and placed into foster care. He and his brother Thomas have been switched between numerous homes and were even evicted from one. After being evicted Hernandez and his brother were homeless. They were picked up by police and placed back into foster care.
Hernandez sees his father occasionally, but it is always a different experience than the traditional parent-child relationship.
“Now that I’m 18, I’ve entered manhood by myself. I was treated like a mess since I was 13, so I had to teach myself and learn to understand the world without my father,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez takes solace, however, in the fact that his father always tries to get custody back. He knows his father loves him even when he cannot care for him.
Growing up in foster care, Hernandez often felt that no one really heard him out and he only had himself and his brother.
“The hardest part of foster care was being separated from my family, from people who look like me,” Hernandez said.
To cope with much of the stress of his traumatic childhood, Hernandez turned to poetry as a coping mechanism after his freshman English teacher Gamber Thompson found potential in his writing and shared his writing with his class. Thompson even supplied Hernandez with a notepad and pencils to make sure he kept writing.
“Mr. Thompson saw my vision before I even saw it in myself,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez’ journey as a writer really began when he moved schools again and attended Paramount High School, however. He started writing to impress a girl who also loved to read and write. What started as a lie, that he loved writing too, grew into a true passion.
“I write for the culture, which could be me or the person sitting next to me or the incoming wave of students or even the generation coming after me. What I’m writing about is real. It’s universal,” Hernandez said.
He continuously works to improve his skills and themes.
Hernandez draws inspiration from events that occur around him as well as from the music he listens to such as rappers like J. Cole, Tupac, Pop Smoke, and Baby Tron.
“These rappers are real with their lyrics. What they talk about, what they rap about is related to what I talk about, to a certain extent. It’s all raw, real, not trying to hide anything from their listeners. It’s all right there in your face, and that’s what I try to do,” Hernandez said.
Growing up in South Los Angeles, Hernandez has always felt that he was different from those around him in Granada Hills. His poetry reflects his unique visions and stories.
“Usually when I write, it is like inner thoughts and inner conversations within myself, but usually about bigger issues. I try to confront everything that’s going wrong in society around me,” Hernandez said.
Despite the emotional complexity, the actual process of writing for Hernandez is not very complicated. Whatever comes to his mind for a potential poem, Hernandez just jots the idea down on a piece of paper and builds off from that idea.
Hernandez often shows his trusted friend junior Francesca Di Santo who gives him her honest opinion. Since, Francesca is good at writing as well, she gives him good constructive criticism, which Hernandez values.
“You might not know what I look like or what I act like, but you can feel what I have to say through my poems.You’re going to see my visions through my writing,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez sees poetry as a career in the future. He hopes to inspire the next generation of writers with his own passion and words.
“I know that poetry can get me places. Rather than following the expected track and being miserable, I’m going to be true to myself. That’s really the reason why I continue to write my poetry,” Hernandez said.
Check out Hernandez’ poetry on his website.