Performer Spotlight: Juno Elio Avillez do Nascimento

by    /  April 2, 2020  / Comments Off on Performer Spotlight: Juno Elio Avillez do Nascimento

When Juno Elio Avillez do Nascimento performs his poetry, there’s a surprising juxtaposition of wisdom and youth. His words emerge mature in nature and spoken with experience, and yet he’s a teenager bursting with both exuberance and the slightest edge of nervousness. 

On an evening late last January, at 17 years old, Nascimento was the youngest writer to read for the Latinx and Proud! series at City of Asylum, reciting a quartet of poems addressing racism and life as a Brasilian-American. 

The following poem, which he performed on stage — “Ode to Deportation Jokes” — was recently honored by Carnegie Mellon in their Martin Luther King Jr. Day Awards

Ode to Deportation Jokes 

I am going to deport you
     first time 
I laughed, remembering 
how I made this joke 
out of fear 
to my brother 

I am going to deport you 
     third time 
I laughed 
only remembering

I am going to deport you 
     seventh time 
I laughed out of 
respect I know 
was misplaced 

I am going to deport you 
     thirteenth time 
I laughed because
laughs shake 
the same way my 
anger does 

I am going to deport you 
     definitely not the last time 
I laugh and 
say you’re racist 
you think it’s 
a joke

In the greenroom, after his performance, Nascimento spoke with Sampsonia Way, describing how his journey and experience as a young Latinx writer has helped to shape his craft. He was born in Maryland, where he was surrounded by a close-knit Brasilian-American community, and he spent his grade-school years developing a daily writing practice. 

Before moving to the Pittsburgh area during middle school, he used poetry as an outlet, and as student at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, he sharpens his skills —  enabling him to find a venue where he could give voice to his identity and explore the wide-spread oppression and discrimination he’s witnessed. 

“I do specifically remember moving here and being faced with a lot of people looking at my family and I in other ways,” he said. “A lot of deportation jokes, and a lot of green card jokes, and people calling cops on my brother because they don’t like the way he looks.”

Nascimento channels his encounters with injustice into his poetry, and he’s been happy to discover a home among other poets and Latinx voices. He recalled a revelation he had at one of his first poetry readings. “I went to an event held at a Brasilian restaurant,” Nascimento said. “They had a poetry reading. And I think reading my one piece and having a lot of people coming up to me and being like, ‘This is something I really feel’ — that was the first time it really hit me fully.” 


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