Angélica Maria Aguilera reclaims her identity through poetry and song


Derrick Longstreet

Angélica Maria Aguilera talking with Caleb Johnson, a junior Anthropology major during her presentation. Maria is a singer and poet who presented at NIU on Wednesday.

By Sarah Rose, Senior Lifestyle Writer

NIU welcomed Chicana singer and poet Angélica Maria Aguilera on Wednesday.

Maria hosted a poetry workshop for NIU students and performed several of her poems and her newest single “Que Placer De Ser Mujer.” Maria’s work focuses on telling stories about what it means to use the written word to reclaim self identity in a world that constantly tells people who they should be. 


Over a dozen eager students filled the Holmes Student Center’s Regency Room for Maria’s “Say My Name” poetry workshop. She spoke about how there is a story in all of us, which makes every single person a unique storyteller. Later, she asked attendees to write and share their stories.

The workshop concentrated on the importance of language when it comes to culture and identity. 

“I think it made me want to embrace who I am, where I come from and my roots,” said Diana Argueta, a second-year nursing major.

The event itself was very engaging. Maria interacted with students throughout the event, asking the audience questions such as “Does anyone’s name have a story to it?” and “How do we see language being used as a dichotomy?” Her presentation compelled students to think about the power of stories and languages, and what America would look like if it erased every language that wasn’t English. 

The end of the workshop was dedicated to using time to write an ode – or celebration – to our names. Students were asked to think about where their name comes from, and what meaning it holds. After 10 minutes of individual work time, a couple of students shared their odes aloud, evoking impressed applauses and at times tears of empathy. 

“I liked the poetry part of it. Being an immigrant myself it hit close to home,” said Sophia Mendoza, a first-year public health major.


Maria’s presentation consisted of a melodious performance of her recent Spanglish single “Que Placer De Ser Mujer” (What A Pleasure It Is To Be A Woman), which was released on all music streaming platforms on March 8. The song talks about the power women hold and the divinity of womanhood. 

Maria also did poetry readings of several of her poems, such as “Exotic:” a poem based on an encounter she had with a man who believed describing a woman as “exotic” was a compliment. 

Maria also presented her poem titled “The Star Spanglish Banner.”

“I wrote this poem when I was working as an ESL teacher and really considering and thinking about the effects of assimilation here in the United States and how it’s affected my family and myself,” Maria said onstage.

Aside from these, Maria’s poems “For the Girls with Long Names” and “The Red Dress” undeniably stood out. Her work is nothing short of profound. Her poems use vivid imagery and unique metaphors to convey themes of self identity, Mexican culture and the dangers of cultural assimilation. 

Throughout her poetry readings, a violinist and electric guitarist accompanied her onstage, playing soft, lulling background music. This musical touch added more talent to Maria’s riveting readings. At the end of the presentation, attendees were able to purchase copies of her poetry book “They Call Me” and get them signed and personalized. 

Anyone interested in reading Maria’s book can purchase it online through her website. Visit her YouTube channel to find all her music.