Episode 12 of the Maven Do It Better Podcast features Graciela (aka Lírica León) student, musician, singer, poet, freestyler, and aspiring producer and music label owner.
Graciela and Heather caught up at The Poets Passage in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Heather met Graciela after walking into The Poets Passage when Graciela asked her to shake a maraca along to a song she was singing.
Listen in as Heather Newman talks with Lírica León about:
Working and performing at the beautiful Poet’s Passage, a living museum of poetry and local art, owned by the phenomenal Lady Lee Andrews
Aspirations of a poet and musician growing up in Puerto Rico
Diversity, culture, music and art in San Juan
Follow her at:
Heather Newman: Hello everyone, coming at you for the Mavens Do It Better podcast from Beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I'm sitting here with the lovely, great woman who I met the other day at this really cool place and so I'm going to let her introduce herself and tell us where we are.
Graciela: Of course. Of course. Hi everybody. My name is Graciela and I go by the artist's name of Lírica León and I am from Puerto Rico and I am a lyricist more, so I'd love to do a little bit of rap, a lot of instruments, a lot of instrumentation, acoustic things. I love Playing Electric Guitar and I just love music in general, so yeah, thank you so much for the opportunity for sure.
Heather Newman: You bet! I know when I walked in this, it's the Poet's Corner, yes?
Graciela: Passage. Poet's Passage.
Heather Newman: Passage, Poet's Passage. Yes, because I guess it's not really a corner yeah? It's more of a passage isn't it?
Graciela: It's more of a hallway, it's a hallway concept.
Heather Newman: How long has this been here?
Graciela: We've been open for about 11 years now. Probably going on 12 soon. Of course, I don't exactly remember when the anniversary is, but we are owned by Ms. Lady Lee Andrews. She's a local, San Juan area poet born and raised right here, and she saw an empty, like a pocket in the local San Juan scene when it comes to art and poetry. She, it took her a lot of, a lot of hustling and a lot of connections and just everything to get this place open. But she did, and it was amazing, and we've been here 11 years as I said, and it's poetry first for us here because definitely sometimes the poet is seen as the least important aspect of an art piece, but here they're highlighted, so definitely.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. And to sit in here is just, you can't even take it all in, you know, there's poetry all over the walls and beautiful art and we're sitting in a space that's kind of like a performance stage space.
Graciela: Yes, it's definitely like a performance stage. We've shifted the stage and run a couple of times to make it appeal to the crowd more, so definitely. But I love the fact that it's a safe space no matter what kind of art you do, anyone from whatever part of the world you belong to, you come in here and you do your thing and it's very much appreciated.
Heather Newman: I mean, I wandered in yesterday and you were singing and playing. You were playing the Congo. Yeah?
Graciela: I forget the name of that instrument. It's not a Conga, I really forget, but I know a native African drum. I have to know the name, but it's definitely used in the traditional Bomba music. We play here Bomba y Plena, which is a, comes from our African heritage as Puerto Ricans. So definitely I love playing it. I played very basically, but because I love fiddling around with it. But yeah, it's pretty cool. Did you enjoy playing the maracas?
Heather Newman: Yes. I was handed a Maraca and uh, was rocking out to her singing. It was great.
Graciela: Excellent. And I was like, "Hey, we're having fun".
Heather Newman: I did alright.
Graciela: It's pretty good. Thank you so much. Yes.
Heather Newman: Oh, you're welcome. That was awesome. Yeah. So, growing up here, I mean, you're probably exposed to music since, you know, coming out of the womb.
Graciela: I'm not going to, there's a story behind actually. My mother told me that I was born, um, sadly with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, so I was born blue as they say because I couldn't breathe. Um, my mom had to go into cesárea, how do you call that?
Heather Newman: Oh, a C-section.
Graciela: A C-section yes. Um, and she, I had to come out that way, you know, so. But as my mom tells me that as the doctor was bringing me to her after cleaning me up or whatever, he said here comes la cantante and he said, here comes, the singer and put me in my mother's arms. And I was like, that is such an interesting thing that happened. But, you know, I pay it no mind. But it was pretty much since day one. My parents have such interesting taste in music more so my Dad. Reggae music, rock and roll, old school, hip hop, a lot of metal music, um, things that old school, what do you call Elvis Presley? And his old school bands, the doo-wop, you know, all play. A lot of Salsa on music. My mom loves Salsa everything in Spanish, Bachata, merengue, but she's a Salsa woman. She will play salsa till the end of time.
Heather Newman: That's great. So, I got to do that the other night with a friend here.
Graciela: Was it Latin roots over there?
Heather Newman: No, it's fortu. Um, it's the one that has four bars in? It was like Fortuna, is that right.? I can't remember the name of it. I should know. I was like, I don't know, but yeah, he busted out some salsa moves on me that were pretty great. It was super fun.
Graciela: It's a workout honey. That's a workout dancing the salsa. Oh my God. I put so I don't know how to dance it well, but when somebody takes you and they know what they're doing, you just follow them. It's amazing.
Heather Newman: When that happens, you're kind of like...
Graciela: Taken, usually, for this ride. Whatever is happening, it's happening.
Heather Newman: Super fun. And then last night I went to see, um, we walked into another restaurant and it was this man, Juan Carlos who was born in Barcelona, but he was raised here, and he plays Flamenco Guitar.
Graciela: Yes. I love Flamenco.
Heather Newman: Do you know him? Have you met him?
Graciela: No, I don't know.
Heather Newman: You need to go meet this man, he is amazing. I'm going to go meet him and talk to him in a little while.
Graciela: Oh, my goodness. Okay.
Heather Newman: He played at the age of 16 on the Ed Sullivan show.
Heather Newman: Yeah, Salvador Dali was on that day and he's played with everyone. You need to meet this guy. Yeah.
Graciela: There's so many. Jesus. Oh, my goodness gracious. Do you know what I'm saying? This is the magic, but I always say this, the magic of San Juan is you turn a corner, you find a gem, you turn a corner here, you find a gem. That's why anybody who wants to come here and want to go through someone, explore, explore because you never know what you are going to find.
Heather Newman: I walked all day yesterday and you know, just I was just blown away. I kept walking into places and talking to people and it was just so fun.
Graciela: There's always a conversation.
Heather Newman: Yeah, and I think, you know, with everything that happened, you know, with the hurricane, you know, it's like coming back. But I think, you know, Puerto Rico is always had some infrastructure issues that are hopefully being more dealt with now because of that. I don't know. Do you feel like, what do you feel about the city? Not to, you know, I don't want to Dig into anything.
Graciela: Oh, it's okay. We can totally dig or whatever. No problem. I'm comfortable.
Heather Newman: I feel like, you know, it's like tourism. We need people to come to Puerto Rico to come back to Puerto Rico because it's beautiful and there's so many things to do and see here and it's just, you all, the people, you're just so amazing.
Graciela: Thank you. Thank you so Much. No, no, no. We definitely do. We, we, especially places with metropolitan heavy areas, you know, San Juan here, and then Guaynabo, Fajardo, Cayey, etc., etc. These places do need tourism because they thrive off of it. It's the only way. Sometimes it's the only way because what Puerto Rico is essentially, essentially is, is a place for everybody. Anyone can come here. My, our problem is sort of the way we benefit, the way the benefits kind of give more cons to us, the people that live here, you know. So, it is like if we want to build a business, our own business and if we want to maintain that business as a local business, it's 11 times harder for us than an outside or foreign business coming in. So those are definitely the points where the benefits we would need to fix and have it all be equal towards us or, or all be seeing the same way, so we can all thrive. We all want everybody to thrive. So definitely.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. Well and it's also a choice of whether you go to a local coffee shop or you go to Starbucks because you know it.
Graciela: Exactly, and there's nothing wrong with Starbucks.
Heather Newman: There's nothing wrong with Starbucks. It's a great business and it's lovely that they're here. But but it is something to where you're like, okay, well there's local businesses that are thriving that are gonna that are here and want to be here, have been here forever. Supporting them.
Graciela: Thank you. Yeah, no, we thank those people, because a lot of people, most of the average tourist today is very conscious, you know? Sometimes you have these unconscious people and it's like, well let them learn by themselves, you know? What can you do?
Heather Newman: There's unconscious people everywhere especially right now.
Graciela: You know, like let them learn. But for example, my thing would be like the whole coffee shop thing and like try to, a lot of tourists come out and come here and I hear them talking and they're just like, "Oh look, there's a Marshall's!" And "Let's go to the Marshall's". And I'm like, "What? You going to go to a Marshall's in the middle of Old San Juan?", you have that back home! Or they're just like coming up to me, "Where's the nearest McDonald’s?" And I'm like, you have actual beautiful food around you. Cheap, you could get an empanada for like $2 and that is delicious. So, it's like support your local things, you know, be challenged, don't, don't pay attention to McDonald’s till you go back home. You're going to find it when you go home. You know the only argument I would have.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Fair enough. I agree with you completely. I love your musical note by the way.
Graciela: Thank you so much. I got this first year, freshman year of college for sure. It's been with me around my neck for about four years and I don't know, I feel like I saw it spoke to me.
Heather Newman: It's beautiful.
Graciela: It's a little, for those who are hearing, it's a little stainless-steel clave de sol how do you say treble clef?
Heather Newman: Treble clef.
Graciela: A treble clef in stainless steel and then a couple of the crystals on it.
Heather Newman: Sparkly. I liked the sparkles.
Graciela: Yes, you've got to be spark-ley!
Heather Newman: What did you study in school?
Graciela: I am studying
Heather Newman: because you're still?
Graciela: Yes, yes. I'm in my third year, about hopefully two years left to till I graduate. I'm studying communications at the moment, but I'm actually somebody who has always been like, I love university, but I feel like I could do more without it. I just, I. I recognized that the strength of a bachelor’s program, going out there into the real world trying to support myself is evident, so it's difficult trying to balance. Sometimes I step off the balance and right now I feel like I am stepping off the balance a little bit, but we're trying to come back to that. But communications, is the third thing I choose, I went in for marketing. Then I went to sociology and now I'm in communications and I'm just like, we're staying here because we want to graduate, and we want to finish, let's just go. Let's just be finished. Let's just go. You know?
Heather Newman: Yeah, I started as a communications major because they didn't have theater, the first college I started at in Illinois and then I transferred to University of Washington and became a theater major and now I work in technology.
Graciela: Excellent. Wow. You never know where life's going to take you.
Heather Newman: Yeah, you don't know. And all the theater production skills and all of that transferred into doing big shows for Microsoft.
Heather Newman: So, I think with communications it's, I think those are great skills to have and some business skills, especially if you want to run your own stuff.
Graciela: Yes, definitely. I've got some plans for that one day.
Heather Newman: An aspiring business owner?
Graciela: I would love to. I would love to. I've always loved the idea of being my own label owner, you know, I would love to call it, my name is Graciela it means to be to have gratitude. So, I think I'd call it maybe Graceful Records or something. Those are, these are like five-year-old thoughts. Okay. Not so much, 12-year-old thoughts. But I would love to have my own record label one day and just help true talent rise somehow because it's, it's difficult to find a real helping hand without, without. Because people come up to you and they have a lot of pretext and they have like not pretext or like, you know, how do you say intentions.
Heather Newman: Yes, yes. They want something from you.
Graciela: Exactly. And it's like, it's like you're there to help, but as soon as you smell something fishy, you jump out. And it's sad. It makes me sad because I'm like, I'm somebody who goes out every day who wakes up, tries to hustle, try to get closer to her goals and her dreams. And these people hold these dreams in my, They're essentially gatekeepers. You Know Jessie Reyez? She's one of my favorite artists and they just, as soon as you don't do something they want you to do, they snatch that away from you and you have to be brought back two or three steps again. So, I'm definitely, I want to be somebody who's real, who's who, who's there to be like, you have a talent, let's, you know, let's carve it out. Let's make it better. Let's try to achieve what you have inside your head. Only if you're there to work. And let’s do it, let’s work. I want to be that for other artists or people in general.
Heather Newman: I see that for you.
Graciela: Thank you so much.
Heather Newman: You know when you put things out into the universe. You say them out loud and you tell other people? You know I'm going to be checking on you and like when's this label launching. You know what I mean?
Graciela: Uh, let's knock on wood in about 15 years from now, 15, 15 years.
Heather Newman: Let's call it five.
Graciela: Five. My Gosh. Oh my gosh. Well it's possible, but dang, 5 years. I see myself just barely getting my first album out in five years. But let's go.
Heather Newman: Well, there's nothing to it, but to do it right.
Graciela: That's true. As long as it's done.
Heather Newman: Yeah. So, talk about, talk about your music and your singing. So, what's your style and what do you love and what do you do?
Graciela: Oh, okay. So, when it comes to style, I'm still looking actually. I feel like I, I'd like to be a genre-less artist. I like, like uh, like 21 pilots, these artists you hear, and you have no idea where they're pulling from. But the finished product is beautiful. So, I just, whatever comes to my head, I love lyricism. I guess I would call myself. I'm a very lyrical person it's the thing I look for the most in a song for sure. Chris Martin from Coldplay, Lynn Gunn from PVRIS, Florence and the Machine, you know, beautiful lyrics. And music for me was that what the question, was is music? Music for me has always been the only thing I've ever understood. From a very young age I was always perked up in front of the television, looking at Disney channel and High School Musical and these kids just dancing. I used to be like dancing, like I just loved it. I did the whole brush in front of the mirror thing in your undies, you know, I still do it like, why not?
Heather Newman: I do too.
Graciela: Yes, yes. Bumping your favorite artists and you're just read it like singing and dancing and. Yeah. So, I just want to be able to attack music anyway that I want to make whatever goes inside my head. Even if it's not for me, make it for the people. I love the idea of writing for other people too. Because I, I make songs with specific artists in mind
Heather Newman: Oh cool. Do you write every day?
Graciela: I do. I make an effort. Even if I don't write, I sometimes I go without writing because sometimes you know, you just
Heather Newman: Life gets busy.
Graciela: You know, off day, but most of the time I make sure to record any key word that comes into my head or any, any melody that pops, everything's just constantly popping into my head and I just made sure to record them. But right now, I'm working on a song which is pretty cool. That's, well I can't really say it, it's going to be cool. It's a song that's going to be a project, so this project will be dropping on January. Did I just say dropping, dropping.
Heather Newman: Dropping
Heather Newman: Dropping in
Graciela: In January and it's a pretty cool collaborative effort so I'm excited for that. So. Oh, I should make a point to drop my Instagram. It's @lyricalyon and its spelled L-Y-R-I-C-A-L-Y-O-N. There we go.
Heather Newman: You were signing as you were doing that.
Graciela: I know I do that. I know, I took sign language.
Heather Newman: You know sign language?
Graciela: A little bit. L-Y-O. Dang, I forgot. It's been a minute. I took ASL at some point. I know how to. I know how to do Alicia Keyes If I Ain't Got You in sign language. It's my fun fact for everybody.
Heather Newman: That is fantastic.
Graciela: Oh, I want to. I want to keep being better though. I want to be able to. Even if, I want to be, you know, I've always actually had this idea of bringing music to deaf people. I've always had that idea even though they can totally feel it. Definitely. If it's there, like I've seen that science, but I would love to make concerts and live events more accessible to these people because everyone should be. I love going to concerts and I love the freedom you get. I love to be able to scream at the top of your lungs, all of this and I know it's not the same for them, but they should at least be included somehow.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. I was just at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans.
Graciela: Oh, I've always wanted to go to New Orleans.
Heather Newman: It's a great city. Reminds me, similar feeling of, you know, it's the Big Easy, you know, so there's a sort of islandy feeling.
Graciela: Islandy, Caribbean feeling. I can imagine that. Because you've got that history.
Heather Newman: It's such a melting pot with the history and all that. I see a kinship for sure. But the Voodoo Fest, they had signers at all of the stages.
Heather Newman: For All of the shows. I thought that was really cool.
Graciela: See, you don't see that here. Here When it comes to the, I feel like when it comes to our disabled people's program is terrible. Like I have my best friend and my best friend's brother is I believe has down's syndrome and he, after Maria had to go to the United States, there was absolutely no way he can be educated here because the programs were failing him. He's doing so much better now, so, so much better, but it shouldn't have to be that way, you know, it should be that he should get that kind of treatment here in his home. Not somewhere else.
Heather Newman: I do a lot of the work on diversity and inclusion in the tech world and we had a session at our event and it was interesting, you know, because you come at it with who you are and your perspective and all the things you've learned and the people you meet and all of that. And you're always learning, and I feel like when you teach you learn, you know, it's, it's a symbiotic relationship no matter what, you know. And that's the beauty of it. Right? And it was interesting, we had a bunch of students, college students who were in IT and talking to them about diversity. It was so interesting talking to them about that they were like, "Yeah, diversity is important to us, but we just do that." Like Puerto Rico. We just really do that because everybody's got such different backgrounds and everything. Do you find that as well?
Heather Newman: The people here just seem. It's just that's the way it is. I don't know.
Graciela: Oh, wait. Okay. Okay. No, no, no, no, no. Actually no, because I feel like when you notice diversity is when, when it’s really punctual, like for example you have like New York, it's a melting pot, right? Same thing as LA, but here as long as you speak the same language and we understand the same social cues and the same accent comes out of your mouth. No more differences. I don't, you're Puerto Rican. That's it, no matter independent of how you look like. So definitely I want to say that if there were any diversity, would definitely have to be like um, differences from people who live in the city versus the country which is top is anywhere people from the beach versus people from the country. It's all different dialects and a little bit different. But at the end of the day, everybody shares the same history at the same, the same way of life in a way.
Heather Newman: Do you feel like as far as like men and women here or trends,
Graciela: The patriarchy
Heather Newman: The patriarchy and all of that.
Graciela: That we're still...
Heather Newman: We're all still working on it.
Graciela: We're all still working on it, honey. Oh my gosh, no. Um, you know, I was lucky enough and blessed enough to have a dad who actually cared so my parents are separated, but they, it took them a moment and I'm not gonna lie. Took them a minute for them to become friends again. But now they have a cool ecosystem going on and it's great. Like, um, so I was blessed enough to keep my father in my life. He's in North Carolina right now. He lives in between Florida and North Carolina and um, but I wouldn't say my family's ever been exempt from, from. How do you say machismo? From the patriarchy? Yeah, no, my mom had it really rough. My grandmother had it ridiculously rough. Growing up, my aunts, my cousins, you know, I haven't really gone through that because I am, I am a bisexual person and currently right now I am in a relationship with a woman, so I haven't had that, you know, and I have, I had a boyfriend before, but he was nice. Yeah. I'm actually, I'm actually like, I'm very like um, I know how to spot like terrible people. Like if you reach a certain, if you do something, that's it, we're done. I'm not communicating with you ever again. That is it. I'm a Taurus. I'm that kind of person.
Heather Newman: That tells me a lot.
Graciela: You mess with my family. The horns are coming out. That's the kind of person that I am. But um, no, but it definitely from telling. Well I actually, I also get the same, you know, genetic treatment. They don't the cat calling walking around. There's A lot of that here, especially with the boys and the boys and then the Trap music and kind of just keeps on spreading unless, you're conscious enough and smart enough to recognize the problem, you know. Because there's a lot of boys here that are actually very, uh, toxic masculine, anti-toxic-masculinity and it's cool. But at the end of the day the Patriarchy is still alive and kicking in got to keep fighting. We're currently at, my University actually is finishing up a campaign against sexual harassment and it was a wonderful campaign, but it's keeping, it's happening in our universities and in our schools, in our households. And it should stop. I have myself wrote a poem in Spanish about it. Yeah, for sure. I'd have to. Oh my gosh. Oh, my goodness. Oh my gosh. It's in Spanish, how can I translate?
Heather Newman: You don't have to translate.
Graciela: I don't have to translate? Okay. Okay.
Heather Newman: We can translate it later. Whatever. If you want to, you don't have to.
Graciela: Actually, I've been meaning to translate that one specifically. I have to get. Um, let me at least if I can get like a small little snippet. Okay. Here we go. Mind you, I have not memorized this even though I've had it written for a minute. My goodness gracious. My memory's faulty sometimes.
Heather Newman: I don't always memorize the stuff I write either. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't, it just depends.
Graciela: Here we go. So, it goes for all the Spanish speakers that are listening. (Poem in Spanish. Unfortunately, transcriber does not speak Spanish).
Heather Newman: Thank you.
Graciela: No, thank you for letting me, thank you for the platform. I'm so happy I'm sitting down talking to you today.
Heather Newman: I'm Thrilled with.
Graciela: I feel like, oh, but I feel like my favorite line from that poem. Let me see if I can translate it immediately here. Um, oh, here we go. Yes. Memory problems. Oh, "The people keep quiet about weird things. Saying that harassment is just a myth and if I end up opening my mouth, I'm the one who committed the crime." I don't know, you know, it's like people keep talking. It's like, oh, that harassment going on. That's not happening. You know, and you have to be strong and these are just boys being boys, when it's not true. These are actual grown men taking advantage of young girls and young females trying to do their thing and if they end up opening their mouth, they're the ones for have the crime.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. If you say something, sometimes you're the one that's seen as the victim, the victim or the person who's, we're seeing that a lot lately.
Graciela: It is shaming victims when it should be the other way around. Pisses me off. Expect the rap song about it.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. So, you, you're in school, you work here?
Graciela: Yes, I do.
Heather Newman: And you talk to people who come in. Do you get, do you meet just a gazillion different people? Because this place is so cool.
Graciela: We've had some interesting characters pop, pop through the door. Yeah. I've got some really interesting characters. None violent so far. Thank goodness. Some rude, some completely ignorant. But I had a, two or three days after I started, a pirate walked into my store.
Heather Newman: A pirate?
Graciela: Yes. A man, a self-proclaimed sailor. Who looked like a pirate. American and he just started speaking to me about all of the sailing terminology and I kept a straight face for 15 minutes while being read the Encyclopedia of sailormanship, if that's even a word.
Heather Newman: I think so maybe.
Graciela: It was hilarious. And he was like. And then he proceeded to teach me how to tie a knot with rope.
Heather Newman: Wow.
Graciela: So, I learned something that day. That's my most memorable character. But I love it here. I have a really nice community of artists and, and uh, I'm friends with all the people. There's a plaza in front of our store and I'm friends with all those people who just sit down. So, it's a very community effort.
Heather Newman: Do you know the fellow that dresses up? Like a sculpture?
Graciela: Yeah, of course he was right. That's Johan. He was right here. He was sitting right there. He was sitting right there. That's Johan.
Heather Newman: Oh, my goodness.
Unknown Speaker: Johan is a really good friend of Poet's Passage.
Graciela: He's an amazing poet too. Reciter, actor.
Heather Newman: We were at Piloto 151. Right. And so, we saw this guy walk up with a suitcase and we're like, what's going on over there? And watched him get ready.
Graciela: He's, he's so good.
Heather Newman: It was amazing.
Graciela: I try to get him to break character every time I get off work and he's doing his thing, but no, he just stares at me and goes. And he just proceeds to keep acting like a sculpture it's beautiful. But he's so nice. He's very, very. What I love most about him is, he's very well spoken.
Heather Newman: He speaks beautifully and just what, like how he does that with the you know, I was mesmerized.
Graciela: He was right in that corner.
Heather Newman: I can't believe he was sitting right behind us.
Graciela: I'm not so sure Maybe he might come back. If not, he'll definitely probably be here for poetry night tomorrow.
Heather Newman: Okay. Wow. That's so funny. Of course, you know him. I mean, I would assume that most artists and musicians
Graciela: To a point not going to lie. Yeah.
Heather Newman: Yeah. I mean this is the spot, right?
Graciela: This is the only place like this in all of Puerto Rico.
Heather Newman: Oh really?
Graciela: Yeah. No, there's no other Poet's Passage in the world at the moment. So, this is unique to right here.
Heather Newman: And will you talk about, um, Ms., the owner.
Graciela: Lady, Ms. Lady. Yes. Oh, I jokingly call her the pope, because it's when you spend enough time up here, you start to notice that she has touched so many people. So many people walk in through that door and telling me, this is for Ms. Lady. I love the conversation we had the other day, or I love this, or I love that. And she knows so many people, so many artists along the years. Um, it's beautiful. It's a beautiful thing to have. And, and she helped me. I, it was very difficult for me to find a job. I had a great resume. I was applying to CVS, you know, Journeys, the malls here and there. Even Walmart or Costco? No, these people could not take more people in like really? Costco. Costco. God Damn. Oh my gosh. I'm sorry. So, I was frustrated, and I came too late. I had been coming here as a poet for two years now, but my poetry skyrocketed, thanks to the people here listening to what they were doing. Two years ago, I knew nothing, you know, you know what I'm saying? So, you get better. So she took me in, she took me out to have some lunch one day and by this point and we were trying to form and take like a relationship and I had, she’d seen my face enough, enough times and I told her how, "Oh my gosh, Lady, I'm trying to find a job, nobody wants to give me nothing, I can't." I'm like, oh my gosh. And she's like give me your resume. I'm like, "Hold up, really?" She's like, "Yeah, why not?" And I'm like, but why didn't you tell me sooner? And she, I handed her my resume and two or three days later she called me letting me know that they wanted me. So, it took me a minute, like I thought I knew this place. No, I knew nothing, and it took me a minute. But now, now I open the store, close the store, clean it up, do everything people know me. I became part of, I integrated myself into this community. Being somebody from Caguas too. Like I wasn't born here. I was born in the center of the island from a much more mountainy area. And um, so it just happened. I can do something, so that's why sometimes I sit down to myself and I tell myself, I feel like I've been chosen for something, you know, like I feel like nobody else is living this kind of reality or at least this way.
Heather Newman: It's yours.
Graciela: Yeah. So, it sets me aback and it makes me feel so much more grateful. And so much humbler because I'm like, I could be living a completely horrifying reality right now. And this is mine, so I'm so grateful.
Heather Newman: Yeah, I agree.
Graciela: And there's a. But yeah, she's like a pope, man. She's, she's a beautiful poet, by the way, the way she uses all of these around the walls, all hers and the way she begins to end, she knows how to attack you with the least amount of words, which is a beautiful thing and she's just a bright soul. Everybody in here knows, or somehow has interacted with her and how she's helped the community in such a way to keep it alive and keep it happy. So, we love her very much shout out to you Lady. I love you.
Heather Newman: I bought one of the prints. I just, yeah, they're amazing. I agree with you about the grateful, you know, it's like I sit sometimes and I'm like, okay, well I'm sitting in San Juan, Puerto Rico doing a podcast with you lovely one and it's because
Graciela: I'm sitting here with you. Who would have made you walk through that door? Listening to like, at first, I didn't have to be singing that day. The store could have been empty like nothing happy was going on, but if you sat down and you felt something, call you and we. That happens. That's what actually, that's why we're called the Poet's Passage because you pass through here and each time you come in you always leave with something brand new.
Heather Newman: Yeah. I'm very grateful to Microsoft and the that I get to do on behalf of being part of technology and diversity stuff and so I'm
Graciela: Let me tell you, that's hard because I don't know, understand Jack about technology sometimes. How does this work? I admire anybody who knows how to work with computers and technology and things like that.
Heather Newman: Well it's like, it's the same about musicians and music. You know? Music and math I think are very similar and I know sounds weird, but it's like they're all a language. So, it's about learning the language. So, but yeah, I think um, I'm excited to watch your career and see what you do and anyway, I can help you.
Graciela: Thank you. No, you're helping me right now with the fact that just because I had, you didn't have to ask me for this interview. You didn't have to sit down with me. I'm just so happy that you're talking to me. I thank you so much.
Heather Newman: So, tell everybody again your name and how to get ahold of you and all that good stuff. I'm gonna write it all down.
Graciela: So, my name is Graciela, but uh, my artist name is Lírica León. It's a.
Heather Newman: Say it again.
Graciela: Oh, got it in Spanish. Lírica. León. Yeah, there we go. I like, I go by Lírica and things like the Spanish word for lyrics. So definitely like I kind of took to have nicknames that people had for me. Lírica came from my friend who was a rapper and stuff like that and he was like, "You're so good at lírica". And I was like, yeah, that sounds nice. And león was from the hair. Everyone's always like you have such cat-like hair. And I'm like the big hair, you got go get that.
Heather Newman: You have good hair.
Graciela: Thank you so much. And so now I just took those two together, but I just, I just go by Lírica, or Lírica León and definitely thank you so much. Again, my Instagram is Lírica León, but it's like L-Y-R-I-C-A-L-Y-E-N is it E or O-N? Yeah, sometimes I don't even. I swear I swear I passed spelling in English. I swear, I just have two languages going through my brain guys. Well here we go. It's L-Y-R-I-C-A-L-Y-O-N. There we go. Snap for that.
Heather Newman: Bam!
Graciela: Snapping for that.
Heather Newman: Thank you so much.
Graciela: Thank you so much. Lovely talking to you.
Heather Newman: And so, what are, yay, my heart is So full, mi corazón
Graciela: Mi corazón, yes. Of course, we have some things dropping soon, so if you guys follow me on Instagram, everything will be on Instagram.
Heather Newman: Must follow her, so thanks everybody. This has been another episode of Mavens Do It Better.
Graciela: Peace out guys. Thank you so much.