The Macaw Never Stopped Singing

By Laura Santos - First-Person Experience

April 22nd, 2021 at 9:00 A.M. EST.  


     “Editing is a process of addition by subtraction” said Susanne Ramirez de Arellano, published writer, journalist, and former News Director of Univision. As a young writer, social justice activist, and aspiring political analyst, her words resonate while I work as the co-Editor-in-Chief of Urbana Literary & Arts magazine. She explained that “whatever you write is good because when you write, it is because you have something to say” - and I definitely have a lot to say.

     I lost my mother to cancer at the age of six, so I was raised by my father until the age of fifteen when he also passed of the same disease. My father nurtured me in a single parent household, where we struggled to make ends meet, in Honduras, and later

WhatsApp Image 2021-04-21 at 8.37.31 PM.

Picture by Karla Cardoso

in Spain. Because of lack of resources, at different points in my life, we did not have access to a television; thus, I spent most of my time folded away between the pages of books from my town’s public library. That is when my passion for storytelling began.

     I started writing poems around the age of seven after my grandmother in Cuba gifted me an anthology of creole Cuban poetry which I was still too young to understand, but most of the things I have lived through, I was too young to understand anyway. Reading all the verses about the struggle of the Cuban people inspired me to plaster my own into writing, specifically, poetry. Of course, at the beginning it was not good nor remarkable but when I was in fifth grade, I submitted one of my poems to CEIP Ramon LLull’s Radio Arco-Iris 107.0 FM. Surprisingly, weeks after, “El guacamayo dejó de cantar” or “The Macaw Stopped Singing” was selected to be read live on air. I was ten and my poem about grief from the loss of my mother and leaving Honduras was read on the radio; this made me realize the power of words and my story. 

     In 2014, my dad decided that the United States would provide me with more opportunities after he was gone so we emigrated to Miami. Learning English as my third language, became the ultimate outlet for my narrative. Living through struggle and poverty, I gained a deeper level of self-awareness to cope with my circumstances and access opportunities. Writing has not only fostered my creativity and skill, but it has served as an outlet for the relief of trauma and pain. From becoming my father’s hospice caretaker to being sexually assaulted at thirteen by a relative who became my caretaker after my father’s death, most of my writing is a self-reflection of events that have marked my life. All the loneliness and lack of government support as a young, Queer, immigrant orphan inspired me to pursue political science and communications, to bring awareness and improve the system that allowed me and thousands of others to fall through the cracks.

      As I earned the position of Editor-in-Chief at my campus’s literary magazine, I also published some of my most intimate pieces. Many of them deal with mental illness and loss, for which writing and Urbana provide a platform to many students. Editing and storytelling are the passions through which I channel all my vision and endeavors as I continue my education. With mentors such as Susanne, I believe my voice can be as strong and clear as ever. While I continue to realize Urbana’s vision, I relate to Ramirez de Arellano's words, when one writes, one has something to say, and I have a lot to say, especially for all those who can not speak.

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Laura Santos

Laura Santos is currently the co-editor-in-chief for Urbana Volume XIV and former editor and layout designer for Volume XIII. She is a first-generation immigrant originally from Honduras who has a deep passion for challenging the status quo and improving her community. As an orphan who migrated to the United States in 2014, she holds deep interest in social policy. Thus, she is pursuing a political science degree at The Honors College at MDC with ultimate purpose of become involved in policy, journalism, and government affairs. She is an avid fan of MMORPG, "World of Warcraft" and during her free time, she enjoys writing, reading, binge watching historical fiction, and playing videogames in either Nintendo Switch or PC.