Wednesday, July 14, 2010

U.S. Poets in Mexico: Nurturing Creativity & Collaboration

Through the fabulosity of Facebook (yes, I'm a true believer of it's powers to connect!) I've come across a great organization I want to share with you.

U.S. Poets in Mexico brings American and Mexican poets together to collaborate, work to strengthen their own writing, to expand public audiences for poetry from both nations and to further literary cultural awareness between Mexico and the United States. 

USPiM brings a faculty of 4 to 5 poets to Mexico to conduct workshops and give free public readings alongside established and emerging Mexican poets.  5 scholarships are awarded each year to poets in each state in Mexico where the workshops are held.  Although workshops are primarily conducted in English, at least two bilingual faculty members attend each workshop and featured Mexican poets conduct bi-lingual workshops.  The readings are in both languages, and what's really special is that USPiM also features poetry in indigenous languages with Spanish and English Translation-check out featured Mayan poet Feliciano Sánchez Chan here (in Spanish)  

USPiM sponsors residencies in Mexico where American and Mexican poets can spend 2-4 weeks residing in Mexico and creating new work.

USPiM also publishes Pyramid, a journal of poetry from current participants.

Check out their upcoming workshops and activities in Tulum, Mexico on January 2-9, 2011 here
**What a Dream!!!**
**Poets: apply for the Merida Fellowship Award & Workshops by October 15, 2010 here **

Sheila Lanham, the founder of US Poets in Mexico, recently had this to share with me about why she started USPiM, and what her vision is for the future (Thank you Sheila!):
 Hi Nilki, I have returned from Coatepec/Xalapa. Your blog is super! 
I started U.S. Poets in Mexico for several reasons. The first, in response to another workshop program I had participated in (how would I do it differently) and secondly, out of shame-that I had been visiting Mexico since 1978 and knew so little about Mexico’s poets or poetry!

USPiM was developed with a focus on a few areas: to provide encouraging workshops for new work, and to introduce Mexican and American poets in order to encourage collaborations and translations. I decided that five yearly full-tuition scholarships for local poets/writers in Mexico would help integrate the program with local literary communities. Day trips to archaeological or ecological sites or to local cultural venues were added so participants and faculty develop a sense of place. USPiM features a reading by one indigenous language poet each year.

Now in our third year, I am working harder on finding funding for USPiM programs; garnering interest from college creative writing programs who might like to partner with us; finding non-profit publishers with whom to partner, increasing advertising and social networking in order to spread the word, etc.

Currently, we offer one week of workshops in January, featured readings by faculty and Mexican poets and lectures. We will be moving around to different colonial cities or beach locations within Mexico each year. At first I was going to only hold the workshops in colonial cities, but, hey, I love Mexico's beaches and why deny writers the opportunity to discover those as well!

Our upcoming workshops will be held on the beach in Tulum, January 2-9, 2010 featuring faculty and visiting poets Diane Wakoski, Jerome Rothenberg, Anselm Hollo, Jen Hofer, Mark Weiss, Susan Rich, Alberto Blanco, Luis Cortes Bargallo and Maya language poet, Feliciano Sanchez Chan.

We will make translation residencies available in Mexico each year and eventually a couple per year for a duration of one week to a month. Currently, I am selecting Residency and Translation Residency participants.

Through the Translation Residency program, Two Voices and One Vision (dos voces y una vision), we are producing a series of documentary films that will highlight the process of translation between Mexican and American poets. This program is still in the development stage. With the help of an educational consultant we hope to present the documentaries (and corresponding poetry translations) to schools in the U.S. where there is a large Mexican-heritage and ESL student body. The process of translation is a wonderful way to learn a new language. It requires working closely together, sharing and making a real effort to understand each other, pulling out the dictionary, exploring-all good things! 
To find out more about USPiM, visit their website 
read their blog 
Join USPiM's Facebook page


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