Struggling with words: Four poets read about displacement

Daniela Elza, Christi Kramer and Nilofar Shidmehr read Ari Belathar's poem "Mother" together in the border crossing session at the Split this Rock 2012 Poetry Festival on March 23. Photo by Marlena Chertock for The Writers' Bloc.
Daniela Elza, Christi Kramer and Nilofar Shidmehr read Ari Belathar’s poem “Mother” together in the border crossing session at the Split this Rock 2012 Poetry Festival on March 23. Photo by Marlena Chertock for The Writers’ Bloc.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Writers’ Bloc.

Being exiled or facing obstacles that keep you from returning to your country impacts everything you do in life. For four poets, it is a major part of what and why they write.

Four poets, from different parts of the world, performed group poems about displacement, home, identity and crossing borders on Friday at the Split this Rock 2012 poetry festival in Washington, D.C.

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Poets discuss tension between page and stage poetry

Regie Cabico moderated the session on stage poetry versus page poetry, where poets Rachel McKibbens, José Padua and Jeffrey McDaniel discussed the differences between them. Photo by Marlena Chertock for The Writers’ Bloc.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Writers’ Bloc.

Poets are constantly trying to define what poetry is and what type of poetry they fit into.

A panel of four poets, Regie Cabico, Rachel McKibbens, Jeffrey McDaniel and José Padua, led the session titled “Stage & Page: What’s the Fuss” and tried to define and distinguish between page poetry and stage on Thursday at the Split this Rock 2012 poetry festival in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve never felt more bisexual in my life, trying to find out if you’re a page poet or performance poet or both,” said Cabico, the moderator of the session.

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Yellow Rage spreads activism through poetry

Michelle Myers (left) and Catzie Vilayphonh (right) have been performing as Yellow Rage for more than 11 years. Photo courtesy of yellowrage.com.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Public Asian.

Poetry has always been a form of activism for Yellow Rage, a two-person Asian Pacific American spoken word poetry group.“It’s been about education and raising awareness,” said Yellow Rage member Michelle Myers. “It’s about trying to initiate some sort of positive change in the world.”

Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh, who are currently on a college tour, have been writing and performing poems since 2000 when the two met at a workshop set up by Asian Arts Initiative (AAI), a community based arts organization. The topics they’ve covered range from APA women stereotypes, heritage and search for home to human trafficking, sexual slavery and other issues facing the APA community.

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Alumnus hosts bilingual open mic to eliminate borders

Henry Mills hosts Borderlines, the bilingual open mic series, at the Hyattsville Busboys and Poets. Mills runs discussions on poetry and facilitates audiences to translate poems. Photo by Marlena Chertock.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Diamondback.

Before the Jan. 15 Borderlines open mic even started, Henry Mills chose random audience members to translate Spanish haikus and sections of poems into English. Candles flickered on tables and the smell of pizza floated throughout the room of about 40.

Though the Spanish texts were only written in one way, the English translations varied.

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New group on campus works to edit, publish students’ writing

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Writers’ Bloc.

If you walk into Jimenez 1215 on Wednesday nights, you will be covered in conversations about form, word choice and details.

“There’s an emotion behind why someone is scared or hesitant, maybe explain or show it more than just dot-dot-dot,” one editor said on Nov. 2.

“Punctuation is a visual explanation of emotion versus actual explanation of emotion,” another said.

This was the fourth meeting of the Promising Young Authors program, a new group on campus that makes the University of Maryland the eighth school with a Promising Young Authors program. The program offers student writers feedback on their pieces and the opportunity to be published in the Washington Pastime Literary Magazine, in DC.

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A teller of all stories: Patricia Smith reads poems about Hurricane Katrina

patriciasmith
Patricia Smith read to a full house at the University of Maryland.

By Marlena Chertock

First published in The Writers’ Bloc.

Poet Patricia Smith realizes the power language has to transport you from one place to a better place. That is one reason she taught poetry to a sixth grade class in Florida, to students whose parents had died or were dying from AIDS.

That is also why the writer of six books of poetry started writing poems about Hurricane Katrina in her “Blood Dazzler” collection, Smith said during a Writers Here and Now reading on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Smith wanted to make Hurricane Katrina as detailed and accessible to readers as possible.

“The majority of people experienced Katrina as I did, through a computer screen.”

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