Poetry is focus of community event

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Poetry whispering and a piñata stuffed with poems are just two unusual elements of a local event celebrating Poetry Month with an international flair, including guest poets.

“Building Community Through Poetry/Creando comunidades a través de la poesía” will take place Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. at the Cook Arts Center, 644 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids. Zulema Moret, director of Latin American Studies at Grand Valley State University, is organizing the events, co-sponsored by Cook Arts Center. All activities are free and open to the public.

Moret is sharing a social poetry strategy she learned in Argentina and has presented during a seminar in Barcelona. It is based on a tradition in France known as the “souffleurs du poeme.”

“I wanted to share this wonderful and easy way to communicate poetry with my students and colleagues,” said Moret. “Now we are ready to provide a fun workshop at the Cook Arts Center. The whole day is aimed at the local Hispanic community as well as everyone who loves poetry.”

The local community event is an opportunity to be immersed in a day of poetry written in Spanish and English. Interactive events include a poetry-writing workshop, whispering poetry (through decorated cardboard tubes), piñata poetry (breaking a poetry-filled piñata) and poetry reading marathons by the audience and noted local and international poets.

Participants in the marathon reading will include Rei Berroa (Santo Domingo), Juana Goergen (Puerto Rico), Pablo Pescheira (Perú/ USA), and Grand Valley faculty members Medar Serrata (Santo Domingo), Rebecca Castellanos (Santo Domingo), and Zulema Moret (Argentina).

Earlier in April at Grand Valley, Moret organized a whispering poetry workshop with Patricia Clark, Grand Valley’s Poet-in-Residence, and Ellen Sprouls from the GVSU Art Gallery. “We started with a group of creative writing and Spanish students,” said Moret. “It was very successful, so I involved students from my Chilean Literature course to celebrate Poetry Month by whispering Chilean poems to other students.”

Students from the Department of Art & Design helped to decorate six-foot cardboard tubes that were donated by Field’s Fabric. Students also went to the center of campus and whispered poems through the tubes and into the ears of unsuspecting passersby.

“I saw students get very excited about sharing poems by ‘whispering to strangers,” said Clark. “And then to watch, it was beautiful: the whisperer and the listener both seemed transformed by the experience.”

For details about the April 30 event, contact Zulema Moret at (616) 331-2286.