(Poetry. Screen prints. Guitar string curtains. Transparencies.  Video: directed and shot by Ben Davis).  

Papeleo is a poem that explores the relationship between a father’s art, his trade, and his daughter’s attempt to apply the tools from both to create a frame for her story. 

In this installation, the poem is slipping off the wall and has landed in the intersection of workroom and living room. When my father set up shop in people’s houses, he hung paper to brighten their walls. In our own living room, he used music to enlighten my sense of where I stood in the world. Back home, was a trópico where poets were hunted down for typing stories that held too much truth, where playing rock songs in English was dangerously different. And yet we wished we were there.  Tagging along with him to wallpaper jobs and to band practice,  I learned that story and paper and hands serve multiple purposes. In this installation, words appear in unexpected places and don’t always stick to the surface.  His voice, buried, mine, splattered.

My poetry consistently manifests as stories that need to be sung, acted out, held.  The hybrid form of the cultural and literary histories I hale from compel my poems to do more than sit on the page.   Papeleo is my call and response to my father and to the poet who taught us that poesía, como el pan es para todos.  Poetry like bread, is for everyone. Bienvenidos a mi cuarto, a mi poema.

The installation invites you to play a record, take a picture, respond to and build on the poem, and take a copy of the poem with you. I am continuing this interaction on line. Upload a photo to the twitter feed to be part of the album, or tweet what you would write on the ladder in response to the prompts (find them below) or riff off the person who tweeted before you.

Poetry on the go. Poetry for everyone.

What were you born with

Where are your papers

What switches do you cover

What do you hang on the wall

How do you use your hands

How do you love your father