Practical Poesia


martín in action
Originally uploaded by geminipoet

Even the most political poem is an act of faith. Because you have no way of quantifying its impact on the world. But the fact is we write these poems and put them into the environment, into the atmosphere and we have no idea where they’re going to land. We have no idea who’s going to breathe them in. We have no idea what affect it’s gonna have on an individual life unless that person materializes and says, “Poetry saved my life.”
-Martín Espada

Bill Moyer’s interview with Martin Espada is up and running. Mad props to Mr. Moyers for shining such a spotlight on poetry: how it develops from the master poet, to the teaching poet, to the student poet and its effect on audience.

While Espada’s work and words are the high definition of inspiration, I also want to talk about young poeta Haydil Henriquez and her desire to make poetry such a part of her life. A life that is driven by a practical family brought to this country for practical reasons, envisioning a practical life for their daughter and in the eyes of this family poetry is not a practical thing.

I’ve had this conversation with a lot of writers who come from an immigrant background and few have ever been encouraged to pursue the art of writing as a practical part of their life. Yes, they have been told that poetry is a fine hobby and that the novel they are chipping away at is a fine use of spare time but unless it equals real dollars & cents then it’s equal in value to a good night out drinkin or a quick pick up game of basketball.

I’d be very interested to read Haydil’s poem ‘In Papi’s Shoes’ because I imagine it to be her strategy to not only get her voice in the world but to also demonstrate to her family the practical use of poetry: as a means to acknowledge the sacrifice of the previous generation and let them know this generation will not squander what they have worked so hard for.

Also good to see Rich, Aracelis and the Bruckner Bar & Grill on the Moyers Journal! (For more on Acentos, check out Rich’s interview at labloga.)

Full transcript of Martín Espada on Bill Moyers Journal
Video of Martín Espada on Bill Moyers Journal
Video of Martín introducing Aracelis Girmay at Acentos Bronx Poetry Showcase
Poems from Martín Espada
Poems from Aracelis Girmay

Author: Oscar Bermeo

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of the chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below, and To the Break of Dawn. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

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