Students and faculty filled the Harris Art Gallery on Tuesday for the “Poetry and Crisis” lecture and a bilingual poetry reading led by Mexican poet Alí Calderón.
The event had a bilingual atmosphere that included readings that Calderón has written himself.
“I have always thought that given the fact there is such a large Hispanic student body at our University,” Spanish professor Gabriela Capraroiu said. “It would be beneficial for the students to meet some of the contemporary writers of Mexico close to their age.”
“Poetry allows us to look at things from an unconventional way,” Calderón said.
Poetry is not constrained to one tone because it can express any type of feeling, Calderón said.
Calderón primarily speaks Spanish, yet he displayed confidence when speaking English to the crowd, which included Mexican consulates who were visiting the University.
He chose audience members to read the poems out loud.
Calderón talked about poems in English that were written by poets such as Donald Hall, Paula Meehan and Sujata Bhatt.
Topics of Calderón’s poems ranged from a café terrorist attack to losing the love of your life.
Each poem sent across a different tone and message.
“I chose these poems because of the intensity and emotion of the tone the reader feels after reading them,” Calderón said.
Following the readings, the audience took a short intermission to enjoy refreshments outside of the gallery.
After the break, students from Capraroiu’s Spanish translation workshop class read poems in English while Calderón read the same poems in Spanish.
All the poems read were from Calderón’s collection such as “Pancakes,” “Kentucky” and many others.
“I really like his style of writing because it is very sincere and from the heart,” said senior Spanish major Liana Hernandez.
“I like that he was very sincere and had bad words in it,” she said.
“I really feel that the translator of poems is another poet themselves,” Calderón said.
The students have been working on these translations in Capraroiu’s class.
“I asked them to just choose some of the poems that they really liked, and they translated them individually,” Capraroiu said. “Then we discussed them in class.”
Most of the students reading the poetry were either Spanish majors or minors.
“The language, I just love it. Literature encouraged me to be a Spanish major,” Hernandez said.
Due to the large turnout of the event, Capraroiu hopes to have more bilingual events for students on campus. She wants to have events that cater to other cultures on campus.
“We thought we could have this as a first step towards maybe a collaboration between countries and universities,” Capraroiu said.
Calderón was born in Mexico City. He has written and published many different poems and ethnographies since 2005.
The event was sponsored by the Modern Language Department and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Rachel Sandoval can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.