Building Community through Poetry in Many Languages

Readers from age 8 to 94 shared their poetry in English, Spanish, Norwegian, and Portuguese.

On Tuesday night, April 2nd, around 40 neighbors come out to Yum!, a local woman-owned restaurant and bakery, for an open mic poetry reading with the theme Poetry in Many Languages. As has become the norm for Friends of the Arts in the past year or so, we had the back room all to ourselves, and we provided pizzas, cupcakes, and snacks for all in attendance.

Our hosts for the evening were SLP Community Poet and many-time poetry jam host, Diane Pecoraro, and Rigoberto “Rigo” Castro Velasquez, a TV program host and student of Diane’s at the English as a Second Language (ESL) class in St. Louis Park. They came up with the idea of inviting poetry in all different languages as a way to welcome others in the class and community who may, like Rigo, write poetry, but not in English.

We were delighted to have five poets read in languages besides English, including Norwegian, Portuguese, two native Spanish speakers, and a Spanish learner. Additionally, a reader whose mother grew up in Poland chose a poem by her mother’s favorite Polish poet and read an English translation. Getting creative with the theme, we also had two readers who shared poems they wrote about computers and technology, and how that is a language in and of itself. Another reader wrote a poetic reflection about writing a resume after not having needed one for decades, and the challenge of learning the necessary jargon to do so.

We were excited to welcome our youngest ever reader at an SLP Poetry Jam at age 8, who shared a few poems with support from his mom and older sister, each of whom also read. Not only is writing poetry a great family activity, it is a lifelong one—we enjoyed a few poems written by a young woman of 94 years!

We look forward to more opportunities to hear your poetry and to connect with our neighbors at another reading sometime soon! In the meantime, check the events page for more ways to get involved.