The Acentos Workshops are starting back up next week and I thought an e-interview with Acentos Workshops Director Sam “Fish” Vargas would help to spread the word and give more insight into the goals of the Workshops.
I also kept thinking about the question Craig Santos Perez has been asking on his blog lately: “so someone tell me why an organization like the ACENTOS FOUNDATION will offer FREE, OPEN TO THE PUBLIC writers’ workshops in the Bronx (with some of the most respected writers around as teachers)”?
Good question. So I went straight to the source for the answer:
YOU HAVE SOME OF THE MOST RESPECTED POET/TEACHERS IN UNITED STATES POETRY ALONGSIDE A DYNAMIC COLLECTION OF UPCOMING WRITERS FACILITATING WORKSHOPS IN POETICS, PERFORMANCE AND POLITICS, ACENTOS COULD CHARGE A MODEST FEE FOR THESE TOP-NOTCH WORKSHOPS BUT INSTEAD MAKES IT ENTIRELY OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. STRAIGHT UP: WHY KEEP IT FREE? WHY NOT CHARGE?
You know that when NYC forgot about Puerto Ricans and minority Latinos in NYC, The Young Lords were born. They got together and MADE things happen. They never charged for the soup kitchens, Hep tests, and general help for their community. I model what Acentos does on much of what our forefathers paved the way for us. We have to make things happen for our community. If my community can’t afford college or a workshop at an absorbent fee, they are still entitled to gain that knowledge. We are getting something back that has no price from the community: hope. We will never ask much from the community but hard work and dedication to the craft. With that, we feel is enough payment to have wonderful work created within the halls of the workshop.
Word. Read the whole interview at Letras Latinas and feel free to comment.
• Rich Villar recounts Martín Espada’s visit to the Acentos Writers Workshop over at Letras Latina.
On the walls hung 112 photos of headstones from St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx. Martín’s workshop revolved around Edgar Lee Masters’ SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY, a book of persona poems in the voices of the dead. Masters took the names from the headstones of Spoon River Cemetery. The Acentos workshop was about to do the same for St. Raymond’s.
Espada started with a half-hour lecture on the life of Edgar Lee Masters, along with a reading of poems from the book itself. Some of the poems were in conversation with other poems. Most of them were highly speculative about the dead person’s occupation, demeanor, relations, and relationships to the other dead people. So, taking from these cues, and keeping in mind things like birth dates and death dates, names, proximity to other headstones, and a large dose of speculation, 78 workshoppers (Attrition! Where is thy blush?) were sent wandering around the room in search of personae to write about, and through.
Complete report here.
• Espada is also quoted over at The Nation regarding baseball, steroids and how the players are held to blame for the greed of the owners and the demands of the fans.
As baseball fan and poet Martin Espada told me, “Baseball is the Main Street of sports. (Think Cooperstown.) It’s full of history and nostalgia, and paved with the bricks of hypocrisy. Now it’s the rhetoric of the ‘drug war,’ handed down from the Nixon White House forty years ago to MLB and ESPN today.”
He is absolutely correct. We are supposed to tsk-tsk at players who are supposed to “just say no” to their addictions to fitness and monster stats, when their success at the park is our addiction as well. We also have yet to truly take owners to task for their addictions to public money and send them to detox.
Complete article here.
• Jean Feraca interviews Espada at Here On Earth: Radio Without Borders. (RealPlayer required)
Espada: “What I consider despicable is silence.”