This Leeway-funded workshop for immigrant poets pivoted after the election - Generocity Philly

Method

Dec. 13, 2016 10:40 am

This Leeway-funded workshop for immigrant poets pivoted after the election

Poet Cynthia Dewi Oka's workshop was initially designed to expose people from immigrant backgrounds to U.S. migrant poets. Then, President-Elect Donald Trump happened.

Poetic justice.

(Photo by Flickr user Doran, used under a Creative Commons license)

When poet Cynthia Dewi Oka received a grant from the Leeway Foundation to run a workshop for migrant poets alongside Asian Arts Initiative, the mission was to build skills and expose participants to American poets writing from migrant backgrounds.

Then Nov. 8 happened, and Donald Trump won the presidential election after two years of spewing xenophobic rhetoric. His victory was immediately followed by an outpouring of hate crimes against immigrants, Muslims and people of color.

Trump’s election has given Oka’s workshop new direction and purpose.

“It was a skills training workshop, but now it’s a lot more content-driven around bringing [migrant] lives and struggles into the light,” Oka said. “We need to get people to pay more attention.”

There’s already a “huge under-representation” of migrant artists, Oka said, especially in poetry. Those voices need to be amplified. They’re missing from national discourse, as made evident by Trump’s election.

“It feels like there’s a really important need for articulating what it means for migrant communities to feel safe and to re-articulate their relationship to place and belonging.”

Oka hopes the workshop is able to bring migrants from different backgrounds together. The goal is to position the migrant experience as a point of connection rather than point of separation. No wall-building, no religious registry, no comparing refugee children to bad batches of candy.

But it will be intentionally political. Though the core components of the workshop haven’t changed, political motivation is the real pivot.

“The shift has primarily been from a focus on craft to a focus on political urgency. That’s part of what needs to happen more broadly with artistic communities,” said Oka. “There’s no such thing as apolitical literature. It just doesn’t exist.”

Applications for the workshop are due Feb. 3.

From our Partners

Apply -30-
LEAVE A COMMENT

From our Partners

City of hopes and dreams: These are the ‘Immigrant Leaders’ you nominated

How responsive has philanthropy been to funding pro-immigrant organizations?

There’s still time to be part of ‘Art as Resistance’ exhibit

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

PA Humanities Council helps communities reclaim their stories

Parkesburg

Brandywine Health Foundation

Managing Director, Philanthropy

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Theatre Company

Director of Development

Apply Now
Philadelphia

Friends General Conference (FGC)

Ministry on Racism Program Fellowship (9-month opportunity)

Apply Now

Philly Pours 2019 invites people to eat, drink, and do good for a third year

4 things to do during Pride Month

Immigrants in Philadelphia, we get the job done

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Nonprofits and startups can win up to $360K at the WeWork Creator Awards

5738 N. 5th St.

North 5th Street Revitalization Project

Marketing & Communications Intern

Apply Now
5738 N. 5th St.

North 5th Street Revitalization Project

Community and Economic Development Assistant

Apply Now
Jenkintown, PA

National Philanthropic Trust

Graphic Design Associate

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity