Celebrations for Día de los Muertos kicked off Monday with a poetry performance hosted by Oyé, a Latin spoken word and poetry group. 

The performance, held in Sudler Hall, was the first in-person event that Oyé has hosted this year. It commemorated the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos, which took place on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. Eleven poets performed spoken word and poetry inspired by the holiday.

“I was standing and listening to all of the voices, and all of the emotion was so raw in this room,” said Zahra Yarali ’24, one of the MCs for the event. “That was what was driving our planning, making sure the event made space for such authentic conversation, authentic emotion.”

The event was planned around the theme of the dead. Andonny Garcia ’22, the first performer of the event, said in his performance that his poetry was crafted as he thought of Día de los Muertos while he listened to music. He spoke aloud to the music and, through many sittings, condensed what he said into one of the poems he performed, “Untitled.” He performed a second poem, “Habibi,” as an homage to a passed friend. 

The opportunity to perform poetry brought some of the students back to their roots.

“This was a beautiful opportunity for me to think about home and think about my culture in a space that I don’t really have many opportunities to think about,” said Regina Sung ’24, a photo editor for the News who was an MC and performer at the event. “Even slipping in a couple of words of Spanish in my poems allows me to reconnect.”

Sung performed her poem “Instrucciones for my Funeral.”

Lexa Pulido ’24, one of the event’s organizers, also remembers home when thinking of the Día de los Muertos. Pulido was born and raised in Mexico and would celebrate Día de los Muertos with her family every year. 

“Every day of the dead, my family would set an altar, una ofrenda … My mom and I would go to the cemetery and visit the dead because my mom would say that the dead need to be visited,” Pulido said. “[She said] ‘We need to remember the people that have passed.’”

The event, however, was primarily a celebration. The organizers of the event arranged lights to go along with each poem and set up an altar at the front of the stage with yellow marigolds, food offerings and pictures of poets and loved ones.

Ninety-seven people registered for the event. Attendees had to show proof of preregistration to enter Sudler Hall and all performers and audience members remained masked for the duration of the performances in order to abide by Yale’s COVID-19 guidance.

“This was a different kind of celebration, but it was still in the mood of having a good time,” Sung said.

Oyé meets every other Monday at 8 p.m. at La Casa Cultural at 301 Crown St.

Isabel Maney covers sustainability and environment. She is a first-year in Trumbull College.