The one-year anniversary of Corazón a Corazón at Cafexito. (Photo by Mark Lannaman.)

By Mark Lannaman

Corazón a Corazón — Heart to Heart in English — is an Atlanta-based open-mic and poetry slam group that just celebrated its one-year anniversary at the Mexican coffee shop Cafexito.

Leo Rodriguez, creator of Corazón a Corazón, said he created the group for a specific purpose — to give space for those who otherwise might not have a place to express themselves.

“I created Corazón a Corazón as an expressive realm powered by the community to celebrate those voices of people who might not have the space to share so — all through writing poetry and singing,” Rodriguez said.

He got the idea, he said, from a similar event he saw at a club he was president of at his alma mater, Georgia State University. 

You may have been able to tell from its name that the group has a strong Latino community base — something that was intentional, Rodriguez said. 

“Corazón a Corazón is a welcoming space to all, but it does have that heritage rooted within my own experiences as a Latino, where I sought to be in a space where I can share my writings in Spanish or Spanglish; I think that’s the key component why this space is different than others,” Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez had attended other open mic nights in the past but didn’t also feel like it was a welcome space to share all parts of himself and his heritage.

“When I had gone to other open-mic nights, I didn’t personally feel comfortable to speak in a different language… that’s why it was so important — this space — for Latinos who might know Spanish, might speak in Spanglish, might be familiar with the language as part of the heritage even if they don’t speak it themselves, to feel this is a space for them where they’re able to share that,” Rodriguez said.

This doesn’t mean that the space is Spanish-exclusive, though; the group is welcoming to any language or background. What’s most important, Rodriguez said, is ensuring that anybody can feel comfortable being their full selves in the space.

This effort, it seems, has been effective. He feels that the one-year celebration was a great culmination of these efforts toward creating a welcoming community, and was thrilled with the turnout.

Leo Rodriguez, founder of Corazón a Corazón at the event. (Photo by Mark Lannaman.)

“I felt great about our one-year celebration, just due to the fact that the community showed out and came to support. It was a cold night, and they stuck through it through the whole night so that meant a lot to me. I felt all the love, I felt the community healing,” Rodriguez said.

The event was first held at a studio in Midtown — Rodriguez said “shoutout to Paty”, the owner of the studio — and eventually led up to the outdoor venue from Cafexito for the one-year anniversary. Cafexito, however, ends their lease late March.

Rodriguez says that the future venue of the group is uncertain, but no matter where it finds its next home it will continue to be a space to uplift communities — even in new ways.

“We’re thinking about how we can create launch parties for recently published authors, or for upcoming singers,” Rodriguez said. “Additionally, how can we also expand from this space indoors to outdoors? So we’re doing a community camping event where we will have an around-the-fire open mic space where it’s back to the roots; no mics, no modern technologies but back to the art of spoken word.”

Rodriguez also said he’s looking to expand and collaborate with different neighborhoods across the city and help unify the community further. So while the location may change, rest assured Corazón a Corazón shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. 

The group’s next event is a 2-day hiking and camping collaboration with Latinxhikers and Gorditas ATL on April 15th and 16th. You can follow its page on Instagram here to hear the latest.

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