On The Occasion of His Birthday, Whitman

Brian Clements invited Maureen Seaton and I to contribute to Every Atom, a project he curated to celebrate Walt Whitman at 200. (Read Brian’s introduction to the project here.) Maureen and I had some reservations about celebrating Whitman. Despite his queerness, he was racist. You can find stark reminders of that in his work. (Read about the controversy at the Poetry Foundation here.) You can read our contribution to his legacy at the North American Review or check it out below.

On the Occasion of His Birthday, Whitman

Whitman was a Gemini, loyal and easy-going.
Also nosy, untidy, and prone to prevarication.

He was gold, a wall of forevers, a tidy room
inside a house with one room. He fractaled

into plots of synesthesia and chutzpah, a man
in a time of many men, a time inside a time.

When he pivoted and sang, the ya-honkiness of
his voice swayed men into hats and talismans,

footholds, and spotted hawks. He lay on his
deathless bed and left the world glowing.

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Memories of The Vagabond

Grateful to have a new poem and photograph published in the Best American Poetry blog for the Florida summer series curated by Emma Trelles. This poem remembers clubbing in the semi-old days at The Vagabond co-owned by the great Carmel Ophir, who defined the Miami club scene for a decade or so. I miss those nights. The Vagabond is now a high rise under construction or soon to be under construction. The gentrification of this city carries on, but it’s history cannot be erased, at least for now. It lives in the light and rats that populate this town. Keep on dancing people. Keep on dancing.

Read the poem here: Enjoy.

Read about The Vagabond here: Miami Herlad.

These are the messages I’m sending to you | 60” x 40” | Neil de la Flor

Miami Poetry Teachers Institute: Turning Up The Dial: Poetry Through Play by Neil de la Flor

This Tuesday, June 25th I’ll lead a poetry workshop for teachers during the Miami Poetry Teachers Institute at the New World Center. The five-day event is hosted by The Poetry Foundation and its primary goal is to help teachers “to develop lesson plans to bring back to their classrooms.” During my one-hour workshop titled Turning Up The Dial: Poetry Through Play, I’ll focus on using elements of chance, game theory, collage, collaboration & magic. (I promise no spells will be cast that can’t be unbroken.) We will read traditional, experimental poems, non-literary texts, such as science and math books, and we will listen to music. We’ll use these resources to create new works in solo and collaborative actions. Teachers will gain vital classroom tools, tips and a cache of writing games (prompts) that to bring back to their classrooms and, hopefully, encourage students (of all ages) to find their unique expression. Continue reading “Miami Poetry Teachers Institute: Turning Up The Dial: Poetry Through Play by Neil de la Flor”

Reading Queer Literary Festival 2017

2017 marks the third iteration of the Reading Queer Literary Festival, which I co-founded in 2014. This year, Reading Queer partnered with the Miami Book Fair, The Olympia Theater and O Cinema Wynwood to create a series of queer-centric cultural programming for South Florida.

I’m incredibly excited that Chen Chen (Long listed for the 2017 National Book Award – Poetry), t’ai freedom Continue reading “Reading Queer Literary Festival 2017”

Miami New Times interviews Neil de la Flor about Reading Queer: Poetry In A Time of Chaos

Miami New Times interviews Neil de la Flor about Reading Queer: Poetry In A Time of Chaos, a new anthology he co-editedwith  Maureen Seaton.

Excerpt: “As Miami’s cultural landscape boomed in the past decade — with the influx of major art fairs, new museums, and local galleries opening in up-and-coming neighborhoods — the city’s queer culture was in flux. Reading Queer, a Knight Foundation-sponsored cultural organization, is looking to change that fact by highlighting voices from a community that remains fractured between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Recently, the group announced a publication deal for a paperback anthology of poetry from local bards and internationally recognized queer writers.”

“’I think it’s the first Miami-based anthology of queer voices,” says founder Neil de la Flor, who has also contributed to New Times. ‘Poetry has had a resurgence because of the political climate and the need to huddle together and connect. Queer writers have an ever greater need to reach each other through every means,’ he says, including social media and poetry.'”

“Thanks to Reading Queer, Miami’s LGBTQ community has had a forum that gives voice to underrepresented stories. It’s badly needed in a city whose queer culture was split in two after the gentrification of South Beach.”

Read the full article here.

 

Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos

I’m happy to announce the forthcoming anthology Reading Queer: Poetry In A Time of Chaos, (Anhinga Press, 2018), which brings together fifty LGBTQ poets in the spirit and solidarity of poetry at its finest and fiercest. 

Pre-order now @ http://www.anhingapress.org/poetry/reading-queer-poetry-in-a-time-of-chaos

Edited by Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton, Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos is vulnerable, sexy, heartbreaking, revolutionary. It’s poetry that pushes against and beyond boundaries in both form and content.

Featuring: Thalo Kersey, Aaron Smith, Bryan Borland, Caridad Moro-Fronlier, Cathleen Chambless, Celeste Gainey, cin salach, Collin Kelley, Eduardo C. Corral, Elizabeth Bradfield, Ellen Bass, Farah Milagros Yamini, Gem Blackthorn, Gerry Gomez Pearlberg, Gregg Shapiro, Holly Iglesias, James Allen Hall, Jan Becker, Jason Schneiderman, Jen Benka, Jim Elledge, JV Portela, Joseph O. Legaspi, JP Howard, Julie Marie Wade, Julie R. Enzer, Justin Torres, Kevin Simmonds, L. Lamar Wilson, Lori Anderson, Megan Volpert, Meredith Camel, Phillip B. Williams, Qwo-Li Driskill, Ruben Quesada, sam sax, Samiya Bashir, Samuel Ace, Seth Pennington, Shane Allison, Stacey Waite, Stephanie Lane Sutton, Stephen S. Mills, Tara Burke, Ching-In Chen, Nicholas Wong, tc tolbert and Valerie Wetlaufer.

To receive notice of publication, subscribe here.

Ensure that queer voices are never silenced. Donate today and support the launch of Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos. The Knight Foundation will match every dollar that you donate today (up to $70,000). Example: Donate $50 and the Knight Foundation wil match your $50 giving Reading Queer a total donation of $100. 

Double your impact today. Donate nowreadingqueer.org/donate.


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org/.

Piano Slam Workshop

*Pardon the typos. 

Blogging from the floor of a preofessional development workshop where I’m “teaching” over 100 Miami Dade County Public School Teachers how to lead and execute creative writing workshops in their classes on behalf of Piano Slam/Dranoff Foundation at the Arscht Center. Teachers are amazing people. I wish stduents could see the behind the scenes that reveal the creativity and compassion of this profession. 




Piano Slam Daily Activities – Neil de la Flor, MFA

Schedule of Activities:
  

Exquisite (Corpse) Sonnets Collaborative Writing – (Theme: migration and/or music)

 

Participants will create collaborative poems using this surrealist game. This writing game involves 2 or more people. The beauty of this game is that you can add ‘rules’. For Piano Slam, I’d suggest limiting the themes to either music and/or migration so that the writers have a theme in mind. For example, “write about your or your family’s experience with migration” or “think about your favorite song or musical genre”. You can get even more specific by asking participants to include specific words with the same consonant or assonant sounds, such as Consort, Continuo, Contralto, Cor anglais, Cornet. You may even impose iambic pentameter to constrict and force musicality into the writing: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/sonnet-poetic-form.  

 

Instructions:

1. Note: everyone in the group will start a poem

2. Participants write two lines of text

3. Fold paper just enough to leave the last line exposed

4. Exchange poem in clockwise fashion.

5. Repeat steps 2-4 for 7 exchanges.

6. At the end, students open poem, read and assign a title.

7. Needs: sheet of paper and pen. (A theme can be applied. Rules can be applied to prompt to direct process.) Share poems. 45 – 60 minuets.

 

Sample poems: http://www.fenceportal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Seaton_de-la-Flor.pdf

Exquisite Corpse: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exquisite_corpse  

 

 

Introduction (Migration & Identity): Who Are You?

 

In this exercise, participants will write about their ‘Migrant Voyage’ and how that voyage shaped their identity. This exercise asks participants to dredge up (or re-imagine) their family history with migration using an extended metaphor, vivid imagery, figurative language and their “native tongues”. Note: This can be a prose poem.  

 

Instructions:

 

1. Participants will first sit in circle. Group leader ask group members to ‘think about their earliest and/or most vivid memory of their family’s migration story’. Or, an experience in which two worlds collide. See L. Lamar Wilson’s “A Patch of Blue in Tenleytown”. Group leader will model by sharing. Each student will share a brief personal experience that relates to the topic. No more than 5 minutes.

2. Students will then break off and write about their experience for 15 minutes. Students will come back to circle. Each will share the last 3 – 5 lines of their writing. Students will then go back and write & revise for another 15 minutes. Share poems.

 

Note: this process can take up 2 to 3 classes to fully develop ideas and revise

Rigoberto Gonzalez: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/things-shine-night

Regie Cabico: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/mango-poem

Wendy Wu: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/my-dissent-and-my-love-are-woven-inside-me

 

45 – 60 minutes.

 

 

Personification: A Musical Instrument or Musical Term Will Save….  

 

In this exercise, participants will personify an object, such as a violin, that saves the world from silence. As an added bonus, you can use this exercise to personify other objects, such as microscope, that will save _________. It’s a great way to have students incorporate vocabulary words, musical terms, scientific terms/theories, historical events and even mathematical formulas to stimulate creativity and interest in other fields. Students are given 30 – 45 minutes to craft and mini-epic drama, poem or prose piece in which this object saves something. 45 – 60 minutes.

 

 

 

Ekphrastic Musical Poems/Ekphrastic Visual Poems

 

*an ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning. However, in this exercise, we will replace “a work of art” with either “a song” or “a portrait of my family”.

 

Instructions:

 

1. Participants will listen to a song (group leader can allow individuals to select their own song or limit choices in another way to serve a particular purpose). For a longer class session or multi-day projects, students may listen to a variety of songs—classical and contemporary—to find the exact inspiration they’re looking for. The same goes for using family photographs.  

2. Participants will free write while the song plays and then go back and revise for a final piece.

3. Group leader my ask participants to further complicate the ekphrastic piece by asking them to write their poems in a form, such as a sestina or a Ghazal.

 

Note: The goal is to capture the moods, feelings and memories that the music or photograph/image conjures up

 

“Joga” or “Hyperballad” by Bjork during her performance at the Royal Albert Concert Hall. http://youtu.be/tU_Wx8ooRjI 

“Ode to Country Music” by Sandra Simonds: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/ode-country-music

“I Live in Music” by Ntozake Shange https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F86YBqmcaMU

“Sestina: Altaforte” by Ezra Pound: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/sestina-altaforte

 

 

Share 45 – 60 minutes.

 

Dinosaurs in the Hood by Danez Smith

 

Students will write a poem in the style of Danez Smith that subverts a popular film, tv show or pop culture phenomenon, such as pokemon, that places an emphasis on the participants migrant history and their own unique cultural context. Once again, you can ask students to infuse their writing with musical terms to create with the two major themes of the migrant voyage and music.

 

45 – 60 minutes. Share.

 

“Dinosaurs in the Hood” by Danez Smith: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/57585 & Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJwiOTeKDOQ

 

 

Science Isn’t Just for Scientists

 

Participants will comb through scientific texts (or any text you wish to incorporate into this exercise) and “steal language/borrow” words and phrases that they will use to then construct poems that fuse found and original text. *See Tom Phillips. 

 

1. Locate a scientific text: https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200512/history.cfm

2. Ask participants to create a new poem using the language found in the text.

 

 

Incredible Bridges: “Translation for Mama” by Richard Blanco

 

In this final prompt, writers will write a poem in two languages that bridges two cultures. The poem can be written in the point of view of another family member, as a letter to a family member or as a letter to oneself imagining who they’d be if their family had not migrated. Link to Blanco’s poem: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/translation-mam%C3%A1.

 

See detailed lesson plan here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/lesson/incredible-bridges-translation-mama-richard-blanco