Portfolio: Students Create, Recite Poems in Spanish

In the republic of poetry | En la república de la poesía
A train full of poets | Un tren lleno de poetas
Rolls south in the rain | Se desliza hacia el sur en la lluvia

—Martin Espada

Students in Professor Tandeciarz's creative writing class studied a variety of poetic traditions, analyzed classic texts, and reflected on the relationship between words, identity, and activism. Why write? For whom? What purpose does poetry serve?

A primary emphasis was the students' own experimentation and creation, and they crafted poems in Spanish throughout the semester.

In one exercise, Professor Tandeciarz asked students to choose a photograph, and take the time to study and jot down all the details they noticed. The details became raw material for new poems.

"I asked them to write three poems about the photo," said Professor Tandeciarz. "They could write from the perspective of the photographer, from that of someone in the photo, from that of someone in the photo speaking to the photographer, or from someone who was present when the photo was taken but isn't represented in the frame."

Why photographs as a point of departure?

"I wanted them to think about voice and narrative as integral to the writing process," said Professor Tandeciarz. "Photographs can capture a moment that is expressive of much more; what's in the frame and what's left out can tell a story eloquently. Poetry is similar in that the words are chosen carefully, and when and how they are spoken can reference a world."

Two examples of these photo|poem narratives are "Ellos y us" and "Indefenso."

For the final class of the semester, students selected a favorite poem or two and read them aloud. Often the act of speaking or reciting a poem helps the writer figure out what works, and what comes across as awkward and needing more attention.

"It's not easy to engage the aural experience when you're working in a language you haven't fully mastered. For non-native speakers working in Spanish, this adds an element of estrangement. Language becomes a tool and an obstacle, a filter and veil."

Throughout the semester students wrestled with the language, made it their own, and found things to say and reasons to speak. And they wrote some great stuff.

"In Spanish, the word is asombro for what they made me feel," said Professor Tandeciarz. "I hope some of that comes across in the pieces they've chosen to share."

To read and listen to the class portfolio, click on the list of poems below or in the left menu.


The Poems

Mecánica

La caída

El Niño con el Pájaro Sobre el Hombro

Indefenso

Las manos buenas

El fuego cruzado

Piloto

Si

Abuelo

La Sonrisa Del Camello

Ellos y us

La Caída de Saigón

Mateo 25:1

Go Back

Contra la pared

Un Árbol

New York Times Global Edition Video Segments

Carlos Quieto a Lucila Quieto

las rodillas de mamá

Noche

Al entierro

Golpe de Espiritú

Incomprendido