Guest Writer, Liz Lugo is a bilingual poet originally from Puerto Rico. She’s a microbiologist, editor, and short stories writer, and founder of the Smaeralit collection. Currently, she’s in her thesis for her master’s degree in Professional Screenwriting. Liz is trilingual in English, Spanish, Italian, and is learning ASL.
She has an extreme fascination for comics/graphic novels. She loves to write Horror, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Psychological Thriller, and Post-apocalyptic stories; as well as Drama, and promoting real and liberal stories that have an impact on today’s society. She also enjoys comedy, documentaries, westerns, foreign films.
Liz’s committed to the following causes: sexual harassment/abuse, rape, animal cruelty, human rights, verbal abuse, mental health, among others. When she’s not writing or analyzing films or TV shows, she’s up to a new adventure or just hearing music, dancing, cooking, or exercising. Liz's Instagram is @swllugo !
The day I stopped writing poetry.
Wait. Did I really stop?
I stopped writing passionate, romantic poetry; or, at least, I stopped publishing on social media.
There’s a little bit of our soul in every piece we compose. Our voice. Our mind. Our vision. We, sometimes, work with metaphors. But, hey, readers – sometimes we want to say curtains are blue and we mean curtains are freaking blue.
Nowadays, people, in general, try to decipher every single word; whether a poem, short story, novel, or even in films or TV shows. That’s not a bad thing, in fact, they must see beyond the artist’s work. But what happens, in some cases, when they assume and, for some reason, they think our masterpieces are a direct reflection of who we are, our experiences, what we want?
Sometimes, it’s hilarious. When I started writing horror scripts, some people were like “You, writing horror? How? You can even kill an ant!” Hey, Suzie, you know what? I don’t have the heart to kill an ant (probably I’ve killed many by accident), but I can put you on a script and see what Jason decides. Stop thinking I’m a serial killer just because I’ve written horror. *I don’t know anyone called Suzie.
Anyway, back to poetry.
I still write poetry. Mostly about humanitarian causes or nature/global warming. Sometimes, I still write passionate, romantic poetry, just as I love to. It’s my style. I’m a passionate petite person. Can’t help it.
But when I stopped writing every day, when I stopped sharing my art, was awful. A part of me died.
So, why did I stop? I’m going to be honest with you; I sometimes still wonder why. I’m not doing anything wrong. I shouldn’t stop being myself just because society wants me to be whoever they want or expect me to, because society assumes I am who they think I am, or because society harasses me.
There’s a part of me that just wants to keep ignoring, keep writing, keep posting – but why shouldn’t I break the cycle when I’m sure that this negative result that breaks me is because of sexual harassment?
I, unfortunately, have had to experienced – still – many situations where men think the world moves around their hormones or worst. Every single one of them affects me. Probably in a different level, but affects me.
In my first book, “El Pecado de Callar” (“The Sin of Silence”), I wrote a beautiful poem that also was published in other magazines, Quería. There’s a line that read something like: “I want to be in the place I’ve never been... your arms.” Sadly, I was sexually harassed because of it. I love this line and find it so pure. It’s my favorite poem of all times, so I did what I used to do – which is WRONG – I ignored, kept writing, kept posting.
Almost two years ago, I published a poetry book in Spanish titled “Ahora Toca Denudarse” (“It’s Time To Get Naked” is the literally translation, but it’s about the soul; touching passionate poetry, and subjects about sexual abuse, rape, suicide, fear, among others). I fell in love with my book, so I started writing more pieces in Spanish and English and posting on my Instagram story (I also made some translations from my book so my English speakers’ friends could appreciate some art of mine).
Let me show you a little something.
Come, so you can teach me how to love.
Come, so I can love you like never before.
Something sexual about it? Is it about making love? Have sex? Or could be about meeting the first love? Huh.
Let’s put some fire here. (Please, remember the book is in Spanish. Sometimes, magic is lost when translating). This one is titled “Dreaming About You”
Dreaming about you.
A cup of tea,
a cup of coffee.
Strawberries and a mango.
Entangled in silence.
Biting us behind the neck.
Laughs between cold sheets.
Caresses between your mouth and mine.
Stars that are lost
within the moon and in my mind.
How to waste your kisses with the wind?
How to whisper that I love you?
Dreaming about you between Saturdays and Sundays.
While I sleep.
While I write.
Felt the fire? Some people have thought this one is about masturbating. I can assure you, it’s not.
There are many other pieces more passionate than this one, for sure, but the reason why I decided to share this piece is because one day I wanted to post something on Instagram so I asked a friend of mine, “which one do you like the most?” (between this and another). Her answer was that I should post the other because it was less sexual, while this one is something social media couldn’t handle. I love my work, some pieces more than others – but, yeah, I shared the one my friend told me to.
And it left me wonder, “why?” But life is a roller coaster and I was busy doing other stuff to overthink why shouldn’t I post this one on Instagram. Was it wrong to publish it in the book?
I kept posting. Sometimes, Thursdays were POETRY DAY (insert fire emoji here). Sometimes, Sundays or whatever. Any day was good to post a piece on my Instagram story, why not? We live breathing poetry. Life is a masterpiece. We, the artists.
And then, it happened (again). Few months ago, I went to a club with some friends. We were speaking and laughing, remembering when we lived in our beautiful island and those precious moments during college; until some couples went off to dance. I stayed with a friend. A friend I considered reliable, respectful, and honest. We all are friends so, of course, we all know for how long a person is single or in a relationship. So, this guy approached me. He asked me about all those things I write, how many of them do I wanted HIM to do ME. I said, “excuseeee me?” For what he replied, putting his arm behind me, “you’ve been single for so long, come on, Liz, you need to have sex, you need someone that makes you all the things you write. Just let your imagination flow.” And he kissed me. I pushed him away and left.
I went back home, directly to close my room’s door. Collapsed on my bed. I cried. I cried. For God knows how many hours. Remembering all the times someone has approached me to treat me like garbage, like an object. I stood up to take one of my book’s copies and threw it away. Screaming. Crying. When I calmed down, I took the copy and muttered:
“This is a joke. I am a JOKE!”
The saddest part, I can assure you he didn’t even read the book. You just notice it, when people misunderstand your poetry. But, still, it doesn’t make you feel any good.
And, then, it happened again. I met a guy. I was excited about him – you know, smart, funny, into comics and anime, same music, cares about children sexual abuse, among other things. But my interest didn’t last long. One afternoon, we were texting. I said I was lifting so I was going to take a shower before having dinner. He replied “Shower facetime?” Come on. For real? Why did he make that approach? Why everything has to be sexual? Yes. I stopped telling people “I’m going to take a shower.” I learned that it’s okay not to be so honest all the time, just don’t reply or say whatever stupid thing comes to mind no shower related so you can avoid stupid replies.
But why do women need to live like that? Feels like living in a cage, even if you’re not.
There’s a little bit of our soul in every piece we compose. Every time this kind of situations happen, it’s like the world telling you: “you don’t deserve beautiful things. You don’t deserve someone that sees you for who you are, that appreciates you, values you. You don’t deserve someone that sees the treasure you are.” Every time this kind of things happen, you think: I’m not good enough. There’s something wrong with me. I shouldn’t be writing this CRAP. Yes, that’s how you start seeing your ART – as CRAP. And let me tell you something, no art is crap.
And you’re good enough. There’s nothing wrong with you but with society.
There’s a little bit of our soul in every piece we compose, but not necessarily is a direct reflection of who we are. I don’t write things I want men to do me. I don’t write because my hormones are on fire. Believe me, if they were, I wouldn’t be writing. I don’t care if men out there need something to pleasure them. I write for my own pleasure – even if it’s provocative or not. I write passionate because I like it. I’ve written sex scenes way more intense than my poetry – and not, they aren’t based on any experience. And when the day comes, I’ll write for my partner. Probably I wouldn’t share it on social media because I’m a private person.
It is sad when a woman has to be careful with her art – and by ‘be careful’ I mean not to publish her art just because she’s sexually harassed. These behaviors don’t make us feel beautiful or desirable. These behaviors play with our mind, make us feel like an object.
It breaks me every time I hear a friend telling, “just wait until you have a partner to publish all this kind of stuff.” Why? Why women need male representation to be ok for us to publish something? I’ve read pieces more provocative than mines; do they (women) go through the same or worst?
It breaks me to feel my essence is wrong to the point of sometimes don’t like who I am – inside and out. And I know I’ve said before that I haven’t written things I want men to do me, it’s true, but what if? It’s still my life and I still deserve respect. Come on, Mark, you don’t know anything about me! *I also don’t know any Mark. I’m sorry, Mark. And sorry, Suzie.
Let’s be brave not to judge but to change the world, to make the difference.
Let’s be brave to value ourselves and others.
It breaks me that most of this behavior comes from some people we call friends. And it’s not a one-time thing (even a one-time thing it’s still not acceptable). What’s wrong? No. Don’t take risks to see if you can get laid. It bothers us. It makes us sick. Probably you’re not noticing, probably you don’t care, but you are sexually harassing women. It is disgusting. You will notice when a woman wants something. I swear – I swear you will.
I confess, sometimes I’ve wanted to scream some facts about myself so people could shut their mouth off. But why? Recently, I went to Halloween Horror Nights. I wore sport clothes. And three guys passed by biting their lips and taking my clothes off with their gaze. Poetry is just another way they use to sexually harass. Screaming my life, giving people explanations of who I truly am, won’t resolve anything, but probably will make me feel worst. Privacy is important. Don’t share everything just to be accepted and/or respected. They could know all about you, and they could not stop being who they are. Appreciate your secrets. Value your essence. The right people will take the TIME to know you better. It’s not worthy to give up your privacy.
And some people could think, “well, that’s what you get when writing passionate, romantic or erotic poetry.” Hey, Suzie. Come on. No. A person, woman or man, must be free. We must respect and be respected. Same thing that happens with whatever you wear – a bodycon dress or skater dress, shorts or long skirts, crop tops or t-shirts. Sexual harassment is real. Shouldn’t be supported, and every time you, Suzie or Mark, say things like that, you’re supporting this behavior (same thing applies to sexual abuse and rape). I recently read a Twitter post that read: “Normal men don’t rape. They can see a drunk woman who is butt ass naked in front of them and still have the sense to not touch her. You rapey guys who keep saying women target themselves are telling on yourself.” That also applies to sexual harassment and abuse.
A woman can be sexy, wild, beautiful, all she wants and she deserves respect. Sometimes people think “hey, you’re beautiful, you have a nice body, your writing is kinda attractive, provocative, so it’s ok to receive ‘compliments.’ No, it’s not ok, because they aren’t compliments – even when art is subjective. Receive criticism, negative or positive, is very different from being harassed. We should not tolerate that behavior.
It’s not about oneself. It’s about all women who are reading this – and men. Even if sexual harassment could break me, I’m stronger every single day. I know the kind of woman I am and what I deserve. I love who I am and who I’m becoming. I love my poetry, my art. I love my scripts, all my stories. I LOVE MY IMAGINATION. I’m my #1 fan. And these things are important for any artist, for any human being. I want you to see and accept who you are. I want you to love yourself. I want you to know you deserve good things!
You can’t control being a victim, but you can control how you react.
We must stand against sexual harassment, abuse and rape.
Society owe us respect. A woman is not an object. It doesn’t matter if she’s married or single. It doesn’t matter what she writes or wears. It doesn’t matter if she’s skinny or curvy. We feel. We deserve to feel safe. We deserve to feel beautiful and desirable in a respectable way. If we want anyone to “do things to us,” the other person will know. Do not sexually harass.
There’s nothing more beautiful than to be yourself, love yourself. You are art. Special. Unique. No art can be completely defined by society. Only the artist knows his/her pieces.
Thanks to all men out there who RESPECT women. You all are a treasure.
“Dream the impossible and you’ll get the unexpected.”