Monica Korde is the Poet Laureate of Belmont, California and currently hosts the monthly open mic series Belmont Poetry Night. She has been one of the three judges for the Fourth Annual San Mateo County Poetry Out Loud competition and has also co-judged the First Annual WordSlam Youth Poetry Contest. Her poetry has appeared online in The New Verse News, Filoli Winter Haiku, San Francisco Public Library’s Poem-of-the-Day and in the Speak Poetry anthology. Her readings have appeared on KKUP Radio, on social media and her poems have also been awarded prizes at locally held poetry contests. She has worked with local poets to organize and host poetry events to amplify youth voices and has been co-hosting Poets Night, a bi-monthly open mic. She has a Master’s degree in English and a Diploma in French language. Born and raised in India, Monica is a former educator and continues being a community service volunteer, a calligrapher, and a motorcycle enthusiast.
Poem on Belonging
TRACING MY ROOTS
I can’t trace myself to kings or queens
nor can I tell you if I come from
a family of war heroes or saints.
What if I say I come from a root word?
Having my own existence but yielding
and strong enough, to shape a language,
to create new meanings. If I could tell
my younger self something, I’d tell her
she doesn’t need to be any one thing.
What if I say I come from an ancestral
manuscript? An old story preserving
pieces of history, waiting to be
restored, to be rewritten, to be translated.
Waiting to bring back to life
a voice buried deep.
What if I say I come from a heritage
of poetry my mother makes, poems I taught myself
to write, and poems I have grown up reading?
From Tagore to Frost, from Dickinson to Angelou
I have found myself again in Mary Oliver
and Nye, in Harjo and in Tishani Doshi.
I am retracing myself to my art. Writing,
and rising with Poets Laureate of the bay
and now I take up the torch.
What if I say this is the lineage I call back upon.
This is the tradition I build upon today. And I feel
healed in knowing I am not only a word on a page
but a voice alive in this time, in this place
and everything that I come from
is only guiding me forward.
Copyright © 2022 by Monica Korde. Used with permission of the author.
Poet Laureate Projects
Appointed by the Council of the City of Belmont in 2021, Monica Korde will serve as Belmont Poet Laureate through 2024.
Current Host, Belmont Poetry Night