Monster - Liliana Perez and Rose Bergmann

Rose Bergmann, 17, and Liliana Perez, 16, are poets from Pomona, CA who have grown as writers and performers through their participation in Say Word, their local youth poetry organization. In their piece, “Monster,” they address the health costs of sugar-laden energy drinks that their fathers rely on to power them through endless workdays to support their respective families:

He gets home
Works more
Now drinks Monsters to keep himself awake
52 grams from the can keep his eyes open
sugar creating their own hands around his throat

When I was little the monsters that my dad saved me from
looked more like witches
Now tall tin cans haunt him dressed in black and green

Doctors tell him to sleep more
See with his drooping eyes
He is worn out
When coffee, Rockstar, Monsters
Are not hiding under our beds
But resting nicely on our kitchen counters

“My inspiration came from seeing the addiction and hurt sugar-prescribing corporations have put my family and friends through, and wanting to change that narrative,” says Liliana. Liliana has only been writing and performing poetry for two years, but has already performed on large national stages. Liliana and Rose were both members of the Pomona team representing Say Word at the 2017 Brave New Voices international youth poetry slam festival. After learning more about the environmental drivers of type 2 diabetes, Rose also looked to the ways her family, particularly her father, was affected. Rose explains, “[My father] works really hard to make money in order to support the five of us, but it sometimes comes at the cost of his health. When completing a freelance graphic design job he often has to stay up late in order to meet the deadline. This leads to him relying on energy drinks that poison him and coffee every morning with too much sugar in it. When I learned about the epidemic of type 2 diabetes and the statistics of families like us that are targeted with this disease, I realized that I related to this already concerning topic and I was excited to be apart of the Bigger Picture workshops to contribute to the conversation.”