BRIDGING THE GAP THROUGH POETRY WORKSHOPS
The world of poetry is expansive. It is something used by so many different people, written on beautifully different topics, and in equally beautiful languages. As a young Latinx person, I grew up in both the English and Spanish world of poetry. I grew up with my abuela reading me Pablo Neruda or handing me a book of Federico Garcia Lorca’s best written works. Then I’d go to school and I’d read about Emily Dickinson and William Shakespeare. I didn’t ever think of poetry as something that was unique to just one language, so it makes sense that my poetry has always intertwined both my English and my Spanish.
There’s something special and freeing about being able to find the perfect words or phrases in Spanish that English may not have, and vice versa. I think it’s important to be able to express yourself freely with whichever language or languages one may have at their disposal. Being Latinx, for me, those languages are English and Spanish. I believe that more people in America would share their thoughts and emotions through poetry if they were given the chance to do so in their native language. I also believe allowing people a space to express themselves in their native tongue promotes and champions the diverse group we have here in South Florida.
Here in South Florida, the population is rich with diverse cultures and people. Through my work with bluapple Poetry and other arts-based organizations, I’ve been lucky to be a teaching artist in a myriad of spaces, and I’ve found that many of those spaces house Latinx youth who also incorporate Spanish in their poetry. So why not create a series of workshops surrounding and centering the Latinx experience in a way that lets students utilize both languages?
This is where El Puente comes in.
El Puente is exactly what I stated above. A series of workshops surrounding and centering the Latinx experience in a way that lets students incorporate one or both languages. In high school, I’d wished I had something similar to this. A way to get inspiration for my poetry and a space to write it in whichever language I wanted? It would have been a dream come true for me. Even just a space to be able to talk and relay poetry in Spanish would’ve been a dream. Which is why I wanted to create El Puente.
In the process of creating these workshops, it was also brought to our attention the widening gap between older generations and their children. Wouldn’t it be spectacular if poetry could close that gap for others just as it did between my abuela and me? For this reason, we have also developed an adult portion of the program. This gives adults a chance to express themselves as well, in a space separate from their children, but also within the same sphere of learning.
Usually, El Puente would be held in the Ultimate studio blu, our creative space at the Jason Taylor Foundation. However, due to the unfathomable recent events with the pandemic, the program has been temporarily moved to a virtual platform, and it is very easy to participate! El Puente takes place every Monday from 1 to 2pm. for students and 2 to 3pm for adults. Anyone who is interested can direct message @bluapplepoetry on Instagram for the meeting link.
I think this is the perfect opportunity for people who have been wanting a new way to express themselves in a language that is more comfortable for them. Writing in your own language is incredibly beneficial. There is the fact that you can express different aspects or emotions using a language that might have words or phrases that are more succinct in expressing what the writer is trying to convey. There is also the added bonus of preserving the language through writing and connecting with one’s own culture through language. There are so many ways to express yourself in this life, and this is one way we at The Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network hope we can bring people together through creativity, honesty, and comfort.
Four reasons why it’s important to be able to write poetry in Spanish (or your own language):
1. Language is important in day-to-day life and access to one’s mother tongue and those cultural implications are even more so; poetry is one way of accessing language and culture.
2. Comfort in one’s own language cannot be ignored and should instead be fostered, which can be done effectively through writing.
3. Creativity is important in self-expression and sometimes that creativity is dimmed when it is not given the proper space to flourish, or when it is given certain restrictions (such as English only writing parameters).
4. This program hopes to expand the bounds of poetry by mixing together the English and Spanish languages and two different generations in a form of self-expression that perhaps has not gotten its time to shine.
El Puente is held every Monday from 1-2pm (for students), and 2-3pm (for adults).
To learn more about the original programming offered by the Jason Taylor Foundation, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the organization’s website at www.JasonTaylorFoundation.org, or follow on social media sites including Facebook or Twitter and Instagram: @jtfoundation99.
About Gaby Martinez
Gaby Martinez is a bilingual poet located in Miami, Florida. They are also a program assistant and teaching artist with the Jason Taylor Foundation and bluapple poetry network. They hope to one day inspire youth to use their voices in a way that empowers.