White walls are painted with the smiles that radiate off our faces just as our laughter vibrates off the two walls of windows that surround the Girls Write Now headquarters. Placed upon each of our chairs is a well known blue packet with bold letters stating “Poetry Workshop: Found Poetry Remix” Ah… poetry, the genre I already felt at home with. I allow the excitement to build up while hoping the rest of my fellow women writers feel the same.
After grabbing a couple of bagels to fill up my plate, I settle down in my seat with my mentor beside me. The workshop begins with Colleen Barry leading the way into the opening lines exercise. We take Ruth Forman’s poem, “If You Write Poetry”, and create our own original poems. With that done, we are introduced to the marvelous guest author Idra Novey, an American poet, professor, and translator. She has had her poems, translations, and reviews published in many literary journals and magazines while being recognized along the way with many awards for her writing such as the 2008 Amy Award from Poets & Writers. With all those accomplishments under her belt, she steps into the center of the room speaking English and Portuguese. Her charismatic energy engulfs the room to the point that I can’t help but smile. She even discusses teaching in the Bard College Prison Initiative.
Idra begins reading from “Birds for a Demolition”, a collection of poems by Manoel de Barros that she had translated. It became another look at poetry from a whole other language and perspective. Idra then has us write about a place we love. Ten minutes later our blank papers are transformed with details intertwined with images of our favorite places. Idra introduces a twist: we now must write from the point of view of someone who has never seen this place before. We finish writing and discuss the exercise, some of us believe it was harder and others feel it was easier.
From Idra’s Craft Talk I learned that translations can come from both different languages and different perspectives. When translating to another language we can find a new poem from the original. And with a new view of a poem we can discover something we didn’t know about it before. I really enjoyed Idra’s time with us; she gave me a different perspective on the ways to find a new story in our poetry.