UNAM Poetry Workshop; FILU in Xalapa

Sunday, April 30, 2017

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I received an invitation from Magali Velasco to read at the FILU book fair in Xalapa, Mexico several months ago, but she received a post-doc fellowship and turned over the planning to others. Fortunately, continuity in planning was maintained and thanks to the efforts of Eliza Rodriguez Castillo and many others, I was able to travel to Xalapa this past week and read my poetry on a panel with Rachel Lewitsky, as well as attend panels on translation featuring David Shook and Forrest Gander. On Thursday, David did a superb job of translating for Rachel and me as three different TV stations and newspapers conducted almost non-stop interviews.

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Rachel Levitsky and David Shook (with genius loci) in Xalapa

My first stop on Wednesday, April 26, though, was Mexico City, where I taught a three-hour poetry workshop to a large group of students at a campus of UNAM. I was very impressed with the quality of their writing and hope I get a chance to work with them again. I wish to thank Professor Aurora Piñeiro, Elizabeth Andión, and Amber Aura for organizing and coordinating this gathering.

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(left to right: Ana Laura Araujo, Bill Mohr, Daniela Zárate, Emilia Alcalá)

After the workshop, I had a bite to eat in mid-afternoon and then reconnoitered with David Shook and Rachel Lewitsky to make a four-hour trip to Xalapa. Rachel and I read together the next afternoon, and David read on Friday. I have rarely enjoyed the company of two poets as much as I did theirs this past week. It was one of the special accompaniments of the past dozen years. Our only regret was that Anthony Seidman, who was also one of the original poets invited to FILU, was unable to make the trip due to circumstances beyond his control. However, both David and I were pleased to be standing near a book fair booth when we heard a voice intone the name Forrest Gander in a microphone and we turned around towards a stage in a corner of the convention hall. Indeed, Forrest was sitting at a table on a stage, but it turned out that his name was being sounded out in appreciation by the moderator. We had arrived too late for that panel, but he did speak again the next day, and I was pleased to catch that presentation. All in all, it was one of the more gratifying weeks I have ever spent as a poet and teacher.

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Laura Emilia Pacheco and Forrest Gander (after their panel on translation, Friday, April 28)