Retrospective Week 10- Dec2009 to May2010
"How do you want to make an impact? You're alone" - Most People.
Well, dear people. This is only a retrospective report on what happened some time ago in Mexico. But let me tell you something; the time there taught me the greatest, most inspiring and empowering lesson. Yes. Yes I can, you can, everybody can. You can when you want. You can when you believe in what you do.
The last report was on the prospective of seing the managers/owners of EL GARAGE. Well, I'm happy to tell you that it didn't take even two weeks for the first workshop to take place. They offered a massive support by designing the flyers and giving shouts on their FB page. I was enormously excited and couldn't wait to finally meet the people who'll be building up somethning new with me.
And they came. By foot, bus, flying carpets. They came and brought curiosity, talent and friendship. It is hard to encompass the dedication, love, support, answers, talent, excitement and loyalty they offered me during my time there in one little retro-report.
WHERE I COME FROM EDUCATION IS FOR FREE
So let me describe how the workshops ran. We usually took off by introducing each other and how we heard of the event and what we like to read and write. I then proceeded by explaining what POETRY SLAM is, what spoken word is, what kind of movement we're creating here and what I offer them, always explaining why I am doing this for free (I don't usually work for free as I believe any kind of work should be paid, BUT I am not willing to charge the ones that want the education and support and might not be able to afford it). All these things done we sat outside (and we were ALWAYS lucky with the weather) and started with exercises.
I have A LOT of exercises including body language, vocal education, expression, structure, acting, space (stage) presence, inspirational, self-confidence, community feeling etc etc.
The exercises were always fun and useful in order to get in touch with oneself and their state of mind/heart/guts. After that we sat down and did some creative writing exercises such as word associations, philosophical discussions, poetry presentations etc
After that everyone had 1-2 hours to sit away and start writing; or come to me to discuss and elaborate structure, rhythm, rhymes, approach and style. Then PIZZA time lunch break, which signed that half the workshop's been through.
After a little break we sat back together to present what we've done so far. Everybody read their piece and we as a group commented on it. Always encouraging constructive critique. I made very clear that only "it's good" is not good enough. As a writer one has to think critical to improve and we all wanted everyone to improve. I personally loved this part the most, it is there where everybody could start expressing themselves may it be through their own piece or through analysing other people's work. The minority of them has ever encoutered other people who write and and it was always exciting to see them bond, analyse, criticise in a friendly manner and praise each other.
All the 1st round of critique done we spread again in pairs to practice our piece as spoken word. This is where all the body and vocal exercises came useful. I usually walked around from pair to pair giving advise and being in awe.
They practised for some time maybe 30-45 min and then I called them to the stage and we ... well... "staged" a poetry slam. I wanted them to experience the stage, their space, their voice and their words.
All in all the workshops lasted between 6 and 9 hours and were visited by a min of 7 to 18 people between the age of 16-39 years.
On the #Locate page you can see some of the dates we had events and workshops. However, many spontaneous sessions are not included.
I could keep on writing and writing this report. Every Saturday was a BLISS. Fact. Every Poetry Slam was a full success, being able to engage live music, action painters and once even a cook! There's no easy way of putting these six months into simple words, into words which aren't glowing of excitement and awe.
But, even if this was my "baby" I need to include some negative aspects as well.
As most people are aware of Monterrey was by that time (and still is) struggling a lot with the cartels and the drug war. Unfortunately by March (more specifically 19MAR10 ITESM shooting) the
whole situation escalated drastically and the El Garage people had to dismiss me and my poetry entourage. With them the whole BARRIO ANTIGUO started dying out slowly but surely (if it wasn't
already lying on its death bed by then). For a short time I lost a little hope, thinking that my "baby" had died with that. I didn't want to waste weeks over weeks again waiting for replies. But,
heavens! A few weeks before that I was attending a breathing and vocal workshop myself where I met some very interesting people, one of them calling himself "chido". He heard of my misery and
offered himself IMMEDIATELY to help. An angel? Might be. The altruistic drive of this man is uncomparable to me. He not only connected me to the Institute of Youth Regiomontana, he also hooked me
up to the Culture House "GARGANTUA" in the centre of Monterrey. The Institute was incredible. They offered me a small wage for full-day-saturday workshops, their printers, they gave us
notebooks, drinks and food. It was more than paradise, it was incredible. We had lots of space, we could run around and scream and do our creative processes in peace and in a save
Being entirely honest, there are not a lot of negative aspects involving my work there. A second to mention is the lack of support by local established poets and writers. Although I got in touch with most of them; and on a certain point they assured me their support, none of them ever appeared neither at the workshops or the events where I invited them regularly to come as "special guests". It was disappointing, yes. Especially after I left and found out that one prestigious poetry professor wanted to replicate my methods and project and put it under his name. Under any circumstance it would have made me proud, but at this point it only made me angry. I worked very hard to arrive where I and my group were, not to be invalidated by some stranger, but to proceed with the inspiration and love and great community feeling we have created.
I am very proud to say that now, almost 3 years later my students and now their students (might be my grand-students) have continued our love for the written word on stage and are still organising regular workshops and events to share and spread their talents, gifts and ideas.
After some short 6 months we created a core community of 10-20 people. Some of them moved to other cities, some have continued the spoken word in forms of rap and stage poetry (and might be a little famous now), some have won national competitions, some (like me) are doing something completely different now, but we all have something in common. One way or the other a fear has been proven wrong and a hope's been approved truth.
My students were my teachers, my inspiration my mentors. They taught me what true support means, how it feels like being counted on, and that yes YES change is possible. They shooed any demons away and made me believe in myself, in humanity and in the power of the word.
Whenever I feel down or rejected or not strong enough or even lonely (which has happened during the past 3 years at Uni) I remind myself that the greatest puzzles in the world, the greatest fears of mankind have presented themselves to me and been proven wrong.
Let me end this retrospective report with the motto we held during my time in Mexico, to illustrate what kind of power and passion lied behind all this. It is in my opinion, the only reason why this project was successful, and why I will always devote my greatest love and energy to the voiceless, because... TIENES ALGO QUE DECIR! (you have something to say!)
Forever in greatest gratitude and awe,
(Here again thank you to: Instituto de la Juventud Regia, El Garage, GARGANTUA, Chido, Chito (for driving me around), Gerardo (for being a good co-host and patient housemate), all the volunteers (helping me on the events), the cleaning ladies from EL GARAGE (for cleaning the massive mess on saturday mornings), all ALL participants of the workshops!!!!, Jasive for the flyer designs...and anybody who's been somehow involved. I wouldn't have been anywhere without you, thank you for making a dream come true, thank you for being.
Week Nine. 22.12-28.12.2009
I met the people of the club and wow everything is getting into something real!
The club where the Poetry Slam is going to take place is called ''El Garage''
Ah! I don't even know what to say!
Week Eight. 15.12-21.12.2009
This week ain't that much interesting. Just got a fixed date for the meeting with the people of the club who showed a little interest. The only thing I am doing is telling everyone that I am organizing something for people who like writing and telling them to spread the gossip.
Week Seven. 8.12.-14.12.2009
So I spent the whole week with the preparings for Zaragoza, squeezing fishoil pills and mixing up the food supplement, doing little things trying to help.
The adventure to Zaragoza started on thursday and ended monday 14th.
It was amazing, awesome, incredible, beautiful, diffrent and so so interesting working with the kids.
A few things went totally weird and akward, parts because of me parts because of missing organisation. I can tell I learned a lot and I did enjoy it so much, so, here's a little thank you.
Next week probably I am going to meet the Clubmanager.
Week Six. 1.12.-7.12.2009
I went to one of the location I wrote an email to and talked to the manager.
He remembered the email and liked my idea, so possibly possibly I am going to have a meeting soon with him and his partner to explain step by step what my visions and plans are.
I am so excited! This is so cool.
Week Five. 24.11.-30.11.2009
I took driving lessons! Yes! Moving is almost impossible without a car, unless you are willing to pay cabs all the time. And you have the courage. Cab driver are known for being a little suicidal. And busses? I am scared of the public transport system. No shedules, no clear system and yeah, don't forget, we are still in Mexico. Whatever. I am taking driving lessons!
Week Four. 188.8.131.52.2009
Organizing my life and friends.
Project find a place seems to be difficult and my hope that Monterrey's first Poetry Slam could be in December is vanishing into thin air.
Preparing for the journey to Zaragoza, where I am supposed to play with children and give workshops to the teachers of the kind of DIY schools. Zaragoza seems to be the poorest part of Nuevo Leon, the state where my homecity Monterrey is. We will spend there 4 days, bringing toys, clothes and a food supplement for children and elderly people who are underfed.
Week Three. 11.11.-16.11.2009
I had a flu.
No joking. I was bored and unable to do ANYTHING during the workdays.
So week three was a total mess.
BUT. I met a lot of interesting people, and especially, interesting people: interested in my work! YES!
Because I need a lot of people around me to realize my projects.
Poets, Musicians, Painters, DJ's, VJ's, Filmmakers, Artists, Actors, Dancers.
Every kind of Art known or unknown is so very and warmly WELCOME!
I started writing email to loads of places telling them about my project. Hopefully I find someone who likes it.
Tomorrow the normal week gets started. And I am getting ready to rumble.
Week Two. 4.11-10.11.2009
Ok Ok. I start being too mexican. The ''find-a-good-place-project'' came out too be more difficult than I thought. The places I liked, are guided mostly by University and because of some reasons it is prohibited to smoke, drink and to ask for cover. So it should be a free event and this is something I could not manage. Project ''find-a-place'' is taking this week again. Hopefully with better results next week.
Week One. 26.10-3.11.2009
I arrived in Mexico. Monterrey/ Nuevo Leon, my hometown. First weeks wherever you get, are always busy and magical and wonderful and terrifying. So I arrived but haven't really realized that I am here. Here means Mexico. When I am talking to someone, I still catch myself saying here and meaning there, Switzerland, good old Zürich.
So everything is starting. I am meeting Poets. Potential Poets. People who will help me to raise up this vision I have into something... big. Something which is able to breathe by itself. Something which could be nourished by passion people put into it. It needs a lot of passion.
People here tell me that there's no time for things like poetry. People work, study, have families and more work. People are driving. Yes, time is precious. You don't need poetry. Sweetest words. You don't need to get your ears glued into stupid ideas and visions, if you don't have the time anyways. People are driving themselves crazy here. The streets are kind of a home. You spend so much time in the car just to get from one point to the other. Friends of mine spend around 3-4 hours a day in the car. Imagine that. So many people. I have been told around 6 MILLION in Monterrey. This is small Switzerland.
So all people I meet tell me that my ideas are good. My ambition is scarying- and of course I will get disappointed. By Mexican officevelocity. By Mexican lazyness. By Mexican interest into arts. By Mexican. Mexican swear themselves disappointing. How scary.
Still I am optimist. A lot.
This week I will look for a place/bar where my event could take place.
Will see if my plan is realistic.