Poet Yaddyra Peralta will conduct the event as part of the planned programming of O, Miami Poetry Festival. Peralta, who has worked with the fest before, was approached by its organizers with the idea to create poetry based on participants' experiences with sexual assault and harassment, inspired by Audre Lorde’s essay “The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action.”
“Initially, I was interested because of the revelations in Hollywood and other sexual impropriety by males in the workplace,” Peralta says. “I have had several personal experiences, and being able to think out how I would turn this into a workshop has been interesting to me. I also figured I’m going to do these writing exercises with the students and share some of my work because I find some students appreciate my openness and the risk taken to be vulnerable.”
The class will be a small group of about ten to 12 people, and because of the nature of the content, contributors will be asked for complete confidentiality. About four writing exercises and model poems will be discussed. Writers can address any difficult moments they've experienced, whether or not they're related to workplace abuse.
Peralta says she has adjusted her traditional method: Because of the topic, attendees will not be forced to share out loud. Some may choose not to write at all and sit in on the subject, and others may prefer to have their pieces read anonymously by others. The poems will also be kept by the participants and not collected unless the writers decide otherwise.
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The poet stresses that the event is open to anyone in the community to attend. Although #MeToo reached its height as a women’s movement, she points out, people of all sexes and genders experience abuse. This event is presented in partnership with the Trauma Resolution Center and the Women's Fund Miami. Both organizations will be present with information and resources for participants of the workshop.
Peralta says the goal is to bring healing to the community around the #MeToo conversation.
“These conversations are important because they make people stop and think how they’ve treated each other in the past,” Peralta says. “We are all are realizing that we will not leave each other alone in these experiences surrounded in islands of silence.”
Silence Into Language: A #MeToo Poetry Workshop. 10 a.m. to noon. Sunday, April 29, at the Center for Social Change, 2301 Coral Way, Miami; 786-235-8030; 4socialchange.org. Tickets costs $5 via eventbrite.com.