Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) and the Initiative on Race and Resilience will present “Afro-Latinx Poetry Now” on Tuesday and Wednesday, featuring six Afro-Latino visiting poets who will appear both publicly for talks in McKenna Hall and privately in selected Notre Dame classrooms.
Both days, Poetry Now’s public events will consist of “Poets on Poets” at 2 p.m., “Scholars on Poets” at 3:30 p.m. and “An Evening of Poetry” at 8 p.m.
In the “Poets on Poets” event, director of the ILS Letras Latinas initiative Francisco Aragon said the visiting poets will give brief talks “on Afro-Latinx poets of their choosing,” introducing another six poets to the audience over the event’s two days.
Starting 15 minutes after “Poets on Poets” concludes, the poets will then sit in the audience for “Scholars on Poets.”
“Six scholars in groups of three over two days will give talks on the work of these poets who are visiting us, which should be a special experience for them,” Aragon said.
For “An Evening of Poetry,” the final event on both days, the visiting poets will perform their own work in groups of three followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing.
Poet Jasminne Mendez, one of the six poets attending the event, said she feels the event is a good way to uplift Afro-Latino voices in the literary community.
“I thought this was a great way for us to all come together and be in community and share our experiences and our poetry as Afro-Latinx writers,” Mendez said.
Mendez said her personal experience was one of clashing identities and feelings, being Black while identifying culturally and ethnically with her Latino heritage.
“I think that my goal as a writer and performer is to try to expand people’s view and understanding of what blackness is and how it exists in the world and across the diaspora,” she said.
Aragon is especially looking forward to the classroom visit portion of Poetry Now.
“These aren’t people who are parachuting in, giving their reading and parachuting up,” Aragon said. “They’re gonna spend time with our students in classrooms, where these students have been reading and discussing and writing about their work.”
Marisel Moreno, a professor in the department of romance languages and literature at Notre Dame, said she is excited for the dialogue her students will get to experience with poet Darrel Alejandro Holnes, who will visit one of her classes Tuesday.
“I’m hoping that they can, first of all, enjoy that interaction with him, learn more about him as a person to get to understand where he’s coming from and his poetry better,” Moreno said.
Poetry Now, Aragon said, is a “modest contribution to what I believe is that national conversation of, ‘how can we celebrate the diversity of our communities, including our poets and writers?’”
Moreno said she feels Poetry Now is very significant as a literary gathering.
“I am honestly elated that this is taking place at Notre Dame,” she said. “It’s really a historic type of gathering, for a lot of Latinx writers, poets, artists in general, don’t tend to have much visibility.”
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