Personal experience sparks inspiration

There are many instructors at Kirkwood Community College who are also published authors. ESL instructor Carmen Delgado Harrington is one of them.  

She is from California and she moved with her family to Iowa in 2008. She now has more than 10 years of experience teaching English as a second language to immigrants from different parts of the world: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Japan, Mexico, Ecuador and Chile, who have come to Iowa.  

She said the best part of teaching ESL classes is the people. “I love seeing the look in their eyes when they realize that they just learned something new. So, they know that they can do it,” said Harrington. 

Harrington is also a poet. She started to write when she was a young adult. “I did write a kids story when I was younger. I think I was 19 or 20 years old,” said Harrington. Years later, she took poetry and creative writing classes when she was an English student at Mount Mercy University (2013 – 2014). During that time, she entered a literature contest and she won first place both years. 

One of the main topics of Harrington’s poetry is her mother. Harrington said, “I’ve always thought that she was a wonderful person, but once I found out I was adopted it was, oh she’s even greater than she was before. Because she took me into her life and she raised me and gave me love, even though I wasn’t her blood.”   

Adoption is not an easy topic to talk about in American society. Harrington, who also has Latino and Native American heritage, said that adoption is also not commonly talked about in Hispanic families. 

However, she likes to write about that, because through her poetry she can offer a new dimension about adoption. “I didn’t bloom in your belly / but you gave me life,” she wrote in her poem called “What It Is to Be a Mother” that was published in the last year’s issue of Cedar Valley Divide.  

Another topic that Harrington likes to write about is Latina women. In America there is still discrimination against this group, and other minority groups (African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans). “Latinas shouldn’t just let these things happen. They should protest or vote to change things,” said Harrington. 

Harrington’s poems were published in several magazines, including The Paha Review, Mercy Creative Review and Cedar Valley Divide. 

Image courtesy of Alex Choquemamani | Kirkwood Communiqué

Categories: Feature