Elizabeth Torres: 19-year-old Poet & Motivational Speaker
When her artistic side bloomed by age five and when her professional career launched at age 10, her family knew there was something different, rare, and intriguing about her. Elizabeth Torres, age 19, has experienced a lifetime’s worth of international travel, speaking engagements, and art showings all highlighting her abilities to speak, create, and develop new motivational concepts. An average week for Elizabeth might include meeting with student groups, writing new poetry, speaking on a radio show, attending university classes, or engaging in discussion with the nation’s corporate leaders. Nothing is out of reach for this young woman! With professional accolades and the vital support of her family behind her, Elizabeth begins every day with fresh eyes and a passion to explore the natural beauty in everyone and every environment. Read on to see where all of this energy originates and what lessons you might take away from Elizabeth’s work in this week’s The LatinConnect.
Treasures of Light Art & Communications
Poet, Painter, Motivational Speaker
Roselle Park, New Jersey
Media & Film Major
Fine Arts (second major)
GED High school Diploma
Hamilton Middle School
Poet, Painter, Motivational speaker…for the last 14 years.
Kean University Student Ambassador
About your work
I have been writing poetry since I was five. There are more than 600 unedited poems. Nine of my works have been published. Six are books, the other three are audio recordings. My latest book just came
I have been speaking to students of all ages and backgrounds, as well as to adults from different companies and areas of work, for at least 10 years. I started in Colombia, and traveled to the US. I’ve been to Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain and France, and I’ve given almost 1,000 interviews to newspapers, TV and Radio Shows.
As a painter, I try to write poetry with colors, leave a message that others can see without words. I’ve exhibited in Colombia, Miami, Washington, North Carolina, NJ, Connecticut and New York. My work is currently in private collections, and also in galleries in Manhattan.
What is a typical day like for you?
There is no typical day. Each day is a blessing, an opportunity to keep going towards a very gigantic dream.
I wake up very early to write poetry, have breakfast with my family and then get ready to go out. I am a college student so most of the time I am running around, studying for quizzes and trying to understand the subjects at hand. I am a lover of culture and poetry, so in my free time you’ll probably find me in Soho and the Village, visiting galleries, poetry readings, music shows, or at the movies with my friends.
Whenever there is a presentation scheduled I go into professional mode, I put on my hat, book under my arm, I take the microphone and just let words flow…it’s such an amazing rush!
I also love outdoor sports, kickboxing, traveling, and being on the computer like any normal 19-year-old.
Most notable milestones
- Being a published writer at the age of 10.
- Best book of the year award, 1999.
- Hosting my own radio show in Miami for a year: “Speaking with Elizabeth” First Place in radio ratings as according to Arbitron, 2000.
- Spirit in the words Contest Winner, Daimler Chrysler, 2001.
- Traveling to schools and universities in so many different countries, speaking with huge audiences. That’s the greatest feeling.
- Live Your Life Contest Winner, American Eagle 2006.
- Being an invited speaker for companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Coca Cola & Verizon.
What’s the niche?
I believe that all children and young adults have talents. What makes me stand out in a crowd is the fact that I believed in myself and had a family supporting me and guiding me to follow my dream without waiting to grow up and become who I wanted to be.
What makes me unique is knowing that there are real life superheroes…and that I can be one of them.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a young Latina poet and artist?
Being able to write down the diversity, the beauty of two worlds uniting as one, using my talent to be the voice of those who haven’t been heard. I allow my words to protect and guide, even when sometimes it isn’t easy to clearly understand their impact. Discipline, and just knowing that for every door that closes, one opens up.
What’s in store for the future?
I want to be an ambassador of hope, of young talented leaders, and make a difference in the world through my work.
Although I might not live forever, I have to make each day count, and each poem that I write, each painting that I make, and each word that I pronounce, must touch the heart of someone.
If it does, I will be immortal in their memory. I will have made a footprint, it will all have been worth it.
What inspires you to create?
Social reality being faced by millions of children around the world.
The daily struggles of families who have to run away from violence, leave everything behind just to survive.
The light that continues to shine inside each and everyone of us, even in our darkest hour…that something that tells us that it’ll all be better soon.
The need to change people’s lives through my work.
Guiding principle in life
Integrity and Honesty: Speak with truth,so that the words go beyond the flesh.
Respect for people, tolerance – even to those who have harmed us. Life puts people in our path because of a reason, and we cannot judge because this will stop them from achieving the miracle they are meant to cause inside of us.
Love for what I do, for who I was, for what I’ll be: All material things are gone when we close our eyes. We are what we have done until now, and our strength is measured by the clarity of our dreams. Past and future joined as one to make a balanced present.
Gratitude: towards the Higher Presence that makes this life so undescribably beautiful. Towards my family, my friends, my coworkers, and everyone who in one way or another has touched my heart…
Discipline, constancy, faithfulness to who you are, to what you believe in, to who you want to become.
Yardstick of success
There are so many challenges that I’ve had to face. Becoming a renowned poet and painter while still being a kid. Moving to a new country without having any relatives or friends, or even speaking the language. Making the decision of being an artist and motivational speaker, and fully understanding the responsibility.
Goals yet to be achieved
I still need to travel all around South America and Europe, and the world basically.
Publish books in several languages. Travel to different countries to speak to gigantic audiences.
Hosting my own TV show and opening up a gallery.
Making my first million dollars .
Best practical advice
Every day, sit for a second and write down what you want to achieve: during the day, during the week, during the month ,during your life.
Start with the long term goal: I want to be _______.
Then plan, step by step, what are you going to do to achieve this goal?
Then break it down even more by making a list of daily things to do in order to make that dream possible. Stick to it like glue baby!
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture
“You are a blessing to us, to your family and your community. Believe in yourself, and nothing will ever stop you.” –Mom
“Be yourself. Don’t let anyone ever dare to tell you who you are or what you can or can’t do..and don’t ever, ever, ever turn your back on your dream.” – Dad.
“I know superheroes exist. I know dreams come true. I know life isn’t just about letting time pass you by and waiting for magic to happen. I know it’s all real, we are our best friends, our only enemies. You’ve taught me this. I am proud of you.” – My brother.
Jose Maria Zonta, Costa Rican Poet. He believed in me, in spite of my age, and taught me how to edit my own writings.
Jairo Anibal Nino, Colombian writer. He has always been one of my favorite writers. He has published more than 60 books, and I always admired him. I finally had the chance to meet him…and tour with him! He taught me of the magic of being a child forever.
Jota Mario Arbelaez, Poeta Colombiano. His support was the key to the publication of my first book. I admire him as a writer, and as a human being.
Eduardo Duran, Librarian. He shared history with me in a way that it all made sense. He made culture even sweeter, and books my best friends.
My parents: the stair to my dream, always and forever.
My brother: best friend, and biggest motivation.
What motivated you to start writing at such a young age?
It just came to me, like a game, like playing with toys. I would wake up and write so quickly that I would end up shaking. By 7:00 a.m. I already had at least 10 poems daily.
I had so much to say, not to satisfy people with my words, but to wake them up, make them understand that it is now time to save the world…save ourselves.
Like best about what you do?
Poetry is such a playful way of communication. It is like speaking in code, people understand you and identify with you in many different levels. Painting is like putting a mirror in front of people, and allowing them to narrate what they see in themselves.
I also love the contact with the audience. The electricity of huge crowds is something magnificent.
Like least about what you do?
That I don’t have enough time to do it all, that I haven’t been able to accomplish all that I desire.
What was the first poem you wrote about?
My first poems were dedicated to my parents. I cannot recall what they were about exactly. One of the first books I published was poetry to nature. There was also a book called the adventures of the chameleon and dreamer cats.
What themes do you like to explore in your work?
Society in general.
People’s reactions to different challenges.
Love, war, death, new life, new beginnings. Everything around us is an inspiration.
Using the texture of different words, new vocabulary, it’s always fun.
How has your Latin background and immigration to the US influenced your work?
Being a Latina makes me a very emotional person. We think with our hearts. Our feelings govern us. Living in America taught me to be more disciplined, more thoughtful, more to the point. Mixing these two great qualities has made me a very balanced person.
I believe that the history of my country, my Latin background, my physical appearance all make me richer. I can adapt to any world I want to, but deep inside, home is always so warm and welcoming.
What do you want to achieve through your work?
To prove to the world that children and young people can make a difference.
To motivate others to follow their own star, to believe in themselves.
To persuade parents and teachers to support children’s talents.
To help artists connect with the right companies, and companies find the right talent for their needs.
To one day write a poem that will be immortal, and heal with each word the wounds of our world.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A poet, and a painter.
What was your first job?
Motivational Speaker, giving conferences to schools.
Person most interested in meeting?
Nelson Mandela: an activist of such strength causes so much admiration in me!
I would love to meet Shakira because of her Colombian Background and the depth of her lyrics. I would also love to meet women who are speaking up, making room for those who are coming, and just showing the world what we are really made of…
Modern celebrities such as Kat Von D, Angelina Jolie, and probably Matt Damon. They are all doing what they love, and changing people’s lives forever.
What artists and writers have had the most influence on your work?
Jose Asuncion Silva
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I am left handed.
- I always draw women in my paintings in different colors. They represent the innocence and purity of our inner selves.
- I love Manhattan with a passion.
Three characteristics that describe you
Three greatest passions
- People and human behavior
- Arts and Culture
“The Little Prince,” by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry because I never want to stop being a little kid.
“The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho. Talk about motivational!
“Leaves of Grass,” by Walt Whitman. He wrote in free verse, like I do. No rhymes, just rhythm and meaning. It’s so powerful!
Defending Immigrant Rights
Protecting Artists so that they can bless us with their work.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
May poetry be with you always! And remember, keep the flame alive!
Who would you like to be contacted by?
Companies looking for motivational speakers.
Parents who have talented children, or who want to teach more about art and culture to their families.
Artists and Lovers of the Arts
Basically anyone who is making a difference, and following their own star.
Interview by Victor Corral
Introduction by Sara Ortega
Edited by Valerie Enriquez