Poetry Expo 23 / 4 March 2023

Poetry is a refuge abroad

Poetry Expo 23

Poetry is a refuge abroad is an article where we share our experience managing a community of Spanish-speaking writers and lovers of writing living in Berlin. We share our concept in order to expand how poetry can be a powerful weapon of containment while living abroad.

Poetry is a refuge abroad

Different tonalities of Spanish can be heard reciting their own texts since November 2018 in Berlin. They occupy private gardens, cultural centers, bars. They write in the streets of Berlin, the streets of which they do not appropriate but in which they live poetry daily, poetry that they overturn afterwards, that they share in a safe space, a space where they all speak the same language and share the same identity they inhabit: that of being a foreigner in a country where their mother tongue is not spoken.

We want to share with you our concept and experience as organizers of these encounters so that it expands. So that we take ownership of the idea that poetry is community and refuge abroad. Sharing poetry in the same common language when the place where you live does not speak your mother tongue is like returning to the living room of the house that so many of us left. Poetry helps to show vulnerability, poetry allows a space to delve into the daily experiences we inhabit as foreigners and it acquires power by being shared: the power of the collective.

Since our beginnings, we have been organizing hispanopoetic encounters: open microphone of poetry in Spanish in Berlin. In our events we invite all Spanish speakers or Spanish speakers to share their texts. There is no value judgment, the only thing we ask is that the text is self-authored. Our motto is that we all have an inner poet. We all write: emails, whatsapp messages, dreams, shopping lists, or letters to the German bureaucracy. Sharing many of these texts with other people who are in the same situation as immigrants makes one find a certain sense of belonging in a capital of the world, where one feels that one belongs but feels so often so unknown. There are so many stories in which one can identify! Hence the poetry shared abroad is like an embrace.

In our meetings we have people from Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Germans who love Spanish and feel it as a language. There are many who have developed as poets thanks to these events, because they have the opportunity to share and continue developing their art with a community that listens to them attentively. There are others who are encouraged to read for the first time.

Also in the hispanopoetic meetings we propose a word that serves as a trigger in the creation of the texts of the participants. It is interesting to see how we speak the same language among us, but still each word evokes so many different emotions in the authors. We believe that the tool of the proposed word is very useful for sociological studies or for political questions: what do the migrant communities think of this city, of its laws, do they feel integrated, with what eyes do they inhabit the city?

Our experience is to see how a community of poets and people close to poetry has been created in Berlin. There are so many arts (photography, painting, dance....) where the limit of the word is not important. But this is not the case with words, the art of naming. What happens when you can only name certain situations in your mother tongue? Don't we think that if those texts come out of cell phone notes, out of dusty notebooks, and are shared with the rest, a community is being created, common places of belonging? That is where we share with you our motto: poetry is a weapon in the distance, poetry is a refuge abroad.

We are available and pleased to share with you our experience as generators of this community and we would love to be able to extrapolate our concept to other cities. What does the Spanish-speaking community in Rome say? And the one in Budapest? And the Italian one in Amsterdam? What does literature have to contribute to the migratory identity? What do the voices that inhabit other places without their families think?