Saturday, April 09, 2011

Writing Love in Community

Every month the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum hosts a bilingual poetry workshop at the Sin Fronteras Café, an inworld space. Last month María Miranda Maloney moderated the workshop. It was wonderful—the discussions, the writing, the community formed by the participants: very conducive to exercising creativity. I am very happy that I moderated this month’s workshop, for it was another way of being active in and enjoying this community.

This evening we talked about Love Poems. We first had a discussion on writing such poems. We asked ourselves several questions: What do we mean with “love poem”? What are the challenges we face when writing love poems? What is love? How do we make such an abstract word concrete? How does one write about love without falling into the use of clichés? How do we define, express and manifest love in a poem? We then read a love poem by Pablo Neruda, after which we engaged in a writing exercise: We wrote a poem where two characters discuss love.

Tonight, I heard amazing love poems from the poets participating in the workshop. No two were alike. Not one used clichés. Each one touched a different chord.

As a follow-up activity, one that will lead us to continue our negotiations with what was thought, discussed, read and produced tonight, we will revise our poems, and this time, the characters in them will be a landlord and us. This is one of the writing experiments by Bernadette Mayer: Write a work that intersperses love with landlords. The Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum writing community gets together once a month, but we are committed writers and members of the writing and LVM community every day.