Friends & Neighbors: Weekend Roundup (Feb 19-24, 2010)

We’re posting slightly later than usual this week, but still in time to let you know about some really interesting events!  Of especial note: two AAWW events (Purvi Shah Workshop and Jason Koo Book Party) and the SULU series in NYC, Flamenco-Inspired Poetry Reading by PAWA Arkipelago in SF, Marilyn Chin in San Jose, Smithsonian Annual Day of Remembrance for Japanese Internment (marking the anniversary of Executive Order 9066) in DC.  Also: don’t forget about the open mic series going on (Family Style in Philly and *SPARKLE* Queer-Friendly Open Mic in DC), and that in many cities, Lunar New Year festivities are not yet over. Check out your city’s newspaper or Chinatown web site to find out if festivities are still going on!

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Weekly Prompt: Poems Using Non-English Words

A favorite prompt of mine from Kenneth Koch’s classic book Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry is an exercise in which he asks his students to compose poems using words from a list of Spanish vocabulary. Writes Koch in his commentary:

“Writing these poems enabled children who knew Spanish to enjoy their knowledge of it and gave those who didn’t a feeling for another language . . . Too often, the non-English language a child knows is regarded in school as something that has to be overcome rather than as an additional source of knowledge and pleasure.” (297).

I love the idea of allowing a language whose rhythms feel natural to one’s ears (whether it is a first or second language) to color and inflect the poetic voice, and so to give it a place in one’s own [English language] writing. A year ago, when I traveled back to my undergraduate institution to co-present a writing workshop at an Asian American activism conference, my collaborators and I tried out Koch’s prompt with the group in attendance, but instead of using Spanish, we challenged ourselves to substitute words from our own families’ native languages. Continue reading “Weekly Prompt: Poems Using Non-English Words”

Friends & Neighbors: Weekend Roundup (Dec. 17-21, 2009)

This week, in addition to readings, open mic’s & performances, we’ve also included a couple of local book sale events.  And be sure to check out your local independent bookseller or a university or small press’s online shop this week if you’re looking for holiday gifts; help support the dedicated small businesses that make the publication and promotion of contemporary poetry possible!

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