Saturday 19 October, 2019

Multi-talented poet beats odds, secures Theatre Arts degree

Poverty, the absence of a biological father and a dream led 24-year-old Kyle Hernandez to his goal of graduating from the University of the West Indies (UWI) with a BA in Theatre Arts. He managed to do so with first class honours.

Hernandez hails from a quaint home in Petit Café, Princes Town. His journey was not an easy one as he had to balance work and school to complete his degree, a sacrifice which he said was only possible with the help of his younger brother Korin.

The UWI graduate said his mother, a single parent, worked double and triple shifts to provide for her family until she was too ill to continue. His brother stepped in and decided to work in order to allow Hernandez to finish school.

Speaking with Loop TT, Hernandez said he had the unfailing support of friends and loved ones during his journey.

He does admit, however, that he began on a rocky road; his mother wanted him to consider waiting a year after he completed secondary school before starting his degree.

“The only time my mother and I ever argued about a decision in my life was whether or not to take a year off before UWI or not.”

After much deliberation, Hernandez opted to work full-time while attending school in an effort to keep his academic momentum.

In his first year, adjusting to the workload was challenging. However, by his second year, Hernandez started to use his work to assist with his schooling, killing two birds with one stone. He said he reminded himself that "I can't afford to fail".

Now a spoken word poet, Hernandez believes his background in music and the arts is responsible for his success.

“I’m a professional spoken word artist right now and I have been so successful in that industry as a newcomer because of the blurring of genres so I blur music still and I blur theatre arts performances in it.”

Although his father was absent, Hernandez believes the guidance he received from a few older males, helped him through.

“I had an absence of a biological father but I don’t think I had an absence of a positive male role model and I found that from my friends because I always limed with older people.”

Being raised by a single mom had its upsides - Hernandez found that he learnt the value of a woman.

“Toxic gender roles was never a thing for me and that’s something that I still hold onto now, understanding that a woman can do anything that a man can do. I’m just still trying to learn and unlearn some of the things I do”.

He sought to advise young men that there is hope as anyone can turn their life around, no matter how far they’ve gone.

“No matter where you’re at, you can always turn back. There are things that are rewarded that are toxic for poor black men: disrespecting women, dominant violent behaviour. But if we realize that we only do that to please our friends, then we look at ourselves differently. So it’s really about reflecting and looking at why you do things because people do things out of love, hate or insecurity and you have to ask yourself what is the reason you’re doing these things. It’s really a matter of us holding ourselves accountable, reflecting genuinely and being honest with who we are and who we are trying to be like.”

The 24-year-old man has toured five major cities in England with his craft and was featured at The Roundhouse “Talking Doorsteps Program” in London as one of only two Caribbean poets.

He is a two-time 1st runner-up for the First Citizens National Poetry Slam and works as a teaching artist, poet and director. He also works alongside The 2 Cents Movement where he engages youth across the country in discourse surrounding youth development and social issues.

You can follow Hernadez on IG, Twitter and Facebook as Kyle Hernandez TA.


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