Women Poets and Artists Look TREMENDOUS
Tremendous is a word that is used to define the size and magnitude of many things. But in the case of the event Tremendous Women, held in the National Theater’s Aída Bonelly hall this past Saturday, March 16, 2013, at 4pm in the afternoon, “tremendous” is the word used to sum up the collective intelligence, talent, femininity and commitment that was expressed in favor of a just and necessary cause—peace instead of violence.
Some of the participating poets included the talented and renowned Ángela Hernández, who left more than one of the women present thinking about her poem Epitaph for Lucrecia Sinsky, and her poem honoring the poets Sappho, Camille and Salomé Ureña.
This event took us on a magnificent journey, placing women at the epicenter of the wind, bringing the echo of a scream to our ears that made us cry, laugh, reflect, sing, and above all applaud from our hearts.
The event opened with a spectacular singer, Adolfina Nava, who had flown here directly from Mexico to sing the festival’s official hymn. The song, Woman Scream, was composed by Zaida Pérez, a Nicaraguan songwriter who lives in Miami. It can be downloaded from the festival web page. Both women received first class recognition for their support of the cause. Adolfina was accompanied by young dancers from the Academy of Ballet, directed by the charming Xiomara Valette (from SPM).
The event’s host, Eduardo Guatreau de Windt, was a wizard, painting a world for us in which the twenty female poets present were true Amazona warriors, whipping our ears with their words, with their insistent and forceful cry: Woman Scream! Other collaborators, along with the master of ceremonies, included folklore artist Geo Ripley, accompanied by Dennis Ángeles, whose African drum rhythms and marvelous rain stick helped the women’s voices resound during the event’s three hours.
We can only describe Rosa Iris Clairiot’s collaboration as masterful. She was in charge of introducing the poets, reading indicative segments of their screams, while photos of the participants were projected on a giant screen, so that all of the writers present would look TREMENDOUS. Rosa Iris’ homage to Jeannette Miller, a recitation of the poem “My Language,” was one of the culminating points of this emotional act. While we are speaking about emotion, we should also mention the presentation by poet Jael Uribe, president of the Women Poets International (MPI) and creator of the concept Tremendous Women, as part of her other creation, the Woman Scream International Poetry Festival, which this year honored the Afghan woman, Malala Yusufzai.
Jael displayed the full power of her voice, reciting her poem “The Color of My Scream,” an inspired mixture of images, power and energy, accompanied by impeccable grace. Each of her words resounded in our chests, as she herself said: it was “…a shot of the throat, in the rhythm of a duet of irreverent drums that truly scared all of our ghosts. What a strong-willed woman, who was able to bring together poets from different generations, in support of the same social mission, to recover self-esteem, and oppose the violence to which women around the world are subjected.
Some of the participating poets included the talented and renowned Ángela Hernández, who left more than one of the women present thinking about her poem Epitaph for Lucrecia Sinsky, and her poem honoring the poets Sappho, Camille and Salomé Ureña. The phenomenal dame of literature, Ofelia Berrido, made her presence known with her Birds of Forgetting. Both women were honored during the activity, receiving a statue called the “Winged Woman,” which is the Women Poets International’s symbol of a woman’s value, lifting up from the fire, reborn in her ashes as a phoenix, and taking possession of the fire as a torch instead of burning as a victim.
This beautiful statue was also awarded to the distinguished Jeannet Miller, one of the Dominican poets whohave traveled the difficult path of female writers in her country, bequeathing a more diaphanous and less arduous road to a new generation of writers. Each woman expressed words of gratitude, demonstrating the humility and talent that made them deserving of this recognition.
The evening’s surprises included the delivery of a very deserved statuette to MPI revelation poet Jennet Tineo, who was not expecting such recognition. Various international special guests also received prizes as enterprising women, and illustrious collaborators of the MPI movement, as in the case of Cuban Ada Bezos Castilla, who moved us by reciting her poem to Hypatia in her singular theatrical style. The public cheered Yenilen Mola (producer of the Erotic Poetry Night in Miami), and begged her to read one of her sensual poems.
The outstanding participation of poets and the wise selection of poems were commendable. We listened to the voices of Dulce Ureña, whose scream we felt along with Camelia Michel, Berenice Pacheco Salazar, Xiomara García and Nelsy Aldebot (of the Between Moons Collective); and Patricia Gabas (a photographer from Malaga Spain), whose delicious Spanish accent did justice to our Muslim sisters, reading one of the poems written by Spanish poet Isabel Anaya Moreno, a member of the Butterfly Network Collective.
Rosa Garde Nicolas (head of the Women’s Section) came to the event representing Amnesty International, to share her impressions and gratitude. She is also a successful coordinator of Woman Scream in her hometown, and a tireless voice supporting noble causes. Mirtha Gonzales Gutiérrez (a Cuban residing in the Dominican Republic) also added her voice, together with María Palitachi (a Dominican living in NY), barefoot, reading for the victims of violence.
The MPI was represented by the voices of Denisse Español (La RomanaProvince), with her “apparently inoffensive” poems and their strong messages, and Rossio Salvador (HigüeyProvince), with her poem “The Other Me.”
Twelve-year-old Darihanna Mesa Florentino, from San Cristóbal, was the poet who undoubtedly moved the audience the most. A member of the Aníbal Montaño Literary Foundation,her poem, Woman Scream, left a trail of talent in its wake. Each poet was honored with a fuchsia plant and other gifts.
Representatives of women’s organizations included Graciela de la Cruz Bourdier (CE-Women), and invited speaker Liset López, a woman of beautiful words, who during her speech asked for a minute of silence in memory of the women who have been assassinated, the husbands who have taken their own lives after committing such acts, and the boy and girls who have been left orphaned by the tragedy of family violence.
The most emotional moment of the event, without a doubt, was the award of a prize to one of the most outstanding members of the MPI staff, Michelle de la Cruz Richardson, who worked behind the scenes to insure the recital’s success. When Jael Uribe called her name, she and the entire public were moved to tears, especially as the MPI president recounted Michelle’s personal history and the challenges she has faced, allowing all to see that it is possible to survive violence and move forward in life, working against the scourge of violence. Michelle will never be a victim again, and as she said in her acceptance speech: “it is possible, and my being here is proof of that.”
The music and dance showcased the indisputable talent of singer and producer Susana Silfa, who set two poems written by Marivell Contreras and Lourdes Batista to music, heating up the mood of all of the women with her charisma and craft. The grace and skill of Linda Zaré’s belly dancing added the perfect feminine ingredient to the activity. We should mention that these two marvelous artists contributed their talent our cause, which was recognized by spirited applause from the audience.
The best outcome of the event has been the opportunity to learn about the incredible social and cultural work being carried out by Women Poets International (MPI) throughout the world. Uniting their efforts through the Internet, they have filled us with pride, raising the Dominican flag high around the globe, in an ongoing effort to share the message of respect for women, empowering women to channel their pain through poetry, recovering their self-esteem, and promoting this connection with words as a way of healing all wounds.
At the end, friends and poets shared a warm embrace, congratulations, a toast, and a love for the books of these talented and enlightened women, who left the echo of their scream in our souls, with TREMENDOUS resonance.