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Marilyn Rodriguez, the education director at Taller Puertorriqueño, sits for a portrait in her office on February 12, 2019. (Photo by Jillian Bauer-Reese)

As a child, I always wrote. It was a way to express myself without speaking. Because I stutter, I wrote in a broken format. Poetry’s grammatical-free structure came easily to me. I enjoyed it and it helped me balance out stressors.

I use poetry to express my love for Kensington.

I have noticed that this community is too often stereotyped, and people don’t read about the good. In newspapers, Kensington is known as, “the badland.”

But this community has so many educated residents who work hard for what they have. It is time for Kensington to shine — and shine bright.

Our neighborhood’s voices need to be heard. Why not through poetry?

What is love?

Kensington has been my neighborhood for over 50 years.
I have seen its up and downs and how the city doesn’t show it love.
This saddens me.
Does the city think we are good for gentrification alone?
Right now, Kensington is crying out loudly for love.
To be loved.
And to see love.
From so many directions.
But often, the only people that respond to this cry are residents.
Kensington community members.
Shouldn’t love encourage outsiders to unite with us and help us, no matter what?

What is love?
I see love as a feeling that is never-ending.
An emotion that is often misunderstood.
Love bewilders the mind.

In this city named brotherly love,
why can’t we all help one another and be extra kind?

What did you think about this story? Send a note to, and we’ll consider publishing it in our Voices section. You can also tell us what you think in person at our neighborhood events.

Editor: Claire Wolters / Story Designer: Jillian Bauer-Reese / Translator: Kristine Aponte