Published in print around the end of July 2016.
Police raids ravaged neighborhoods, fights left teens and adults bloodied or bruised and gangs claimed their territory on the streets — all of this was commonplace in Freddie Guzman’s upbringing.
“Just imagine you’re walking from your elementary school to your junior middle school, and you’re in the middle of a riot,” Guzman says. “You’re seeing girls beating on other girls, and teachers/principals trying to break it up.”
Guzman says that his parents were strict and tried to protect him and his five siblings from straying from their goals. “It was all about keeping it together, getting it together and staying together,” Guzman says.
Growing up in the 7th Ward in Southeast Lancaster city could be unpredictable, but Guzman says he is proud of where he came from. Without his experiences in Lancaster city, he wouldn’t have had the fuel to write and publish his first book, titled “Freddienomics.”
“Freddienomics” contains writings about love, relationships, sexuality, Guzman’s neighborhood, friendships and religion, among other things; the 418-page book speaks openly and rawly about things that Guzman believes people in the community would find relevant.
“This book is at a time where people will wake up and pay attention,” Guzman says. “It can mean something different to a person every time they read it.”
“(Southeast Lancaster city) teaches you a lot of values of what you don’t want to be in life … I’m very humble and I love my upbringing,” Guzman says.
While the book’s impact reached far past Lancaster, the open and honest nature of writing takes the reader into the world of someone living in the heart of the 7th Ward.
“You learn to go with the flow, mind your business, and just pray to see another day,” Guzman says.
J.P McCaskey High School, however, offered a completely different vibe for Guzman, he says.
“It was so good to me, because when I think of McCaskey, I think about how diverse my high school is,” Guzman says. “A lot of people blast McCaskey for being this and that, but the good things aren’t exposed.”
Guzman’s accounting teacher, Kenneth Forster, was one beacon of light for him. After breaking up a fight between Guzman and another person, Forster calmed him. Subsequently, Guzman says Forster taught him a lot about life, and also the ways of business.
After high school, Guzman left Lancaster city to live in New York City so that he could pursue his passion of dancing and find himself in the process. After a few years, he said he came back to Lancaster city with a whole new perspective on life.
“When I came back I found out a little more of me here; New York gave me an attitude adjustment that I really needed,” Guzman says.
Upon coming back to Lancaster, however, Guzman was homeless and lived couch-to-couch at his friends and family’s houses.
During this time, Guzman said he started to hone in on his writing, and wrote the poems that would eventually be compiled into his first book, “Freddienomics,” published through Page Publishing in 2015.
The book took a little over a year to write. Guzman wrote for cathartic purposes, he says, but there was a bigger meaning behind his writing.
“(It’s) what the community talks about that is not being said out loud,” Guzman says. “(It’s a) push in the face to what you and I talk about every day, but what people are afraid to say out loud.”
“Freddienomics” was a “long and grueling” process, according to Guzman. The idea to publish his poetry started on Facebook and garnered a lot of attention, Guzman says.
Guzman encourages everyone to make their passions a reality, no matter the hardships they face growing up.
“Don’t be afraid to be different, and do not be afraid of the fearful people out there trying to put you down, because what you’re about to write is going to spark so many lives,” Guzman says.
Cities can be known for their crime, but he encourages people to keep going for their dreams despite the high statistics of people getting hurt or killed.
“You have to be that one in a million, or that one in 100, to stand out and just break that cycle, and say, ‘you know what, I am not part of that statistic,” Guzman says. “I’m a part of my own new statistic.”
Guzman has three other books in the works, but there is no set date for completion or publishing. In the meantime, Guzman intends on doing book shows. When he’s not writing, he’s either practicing or teaching choreography.