Story and photos by Staci Bostic-Baros
Ruth Awad, the featured poet of the 2019 spring Authors Event, added to CNM’s writing opportunities by giving poetry guidance to aspiring student authors in the event’s first annual Writing Workshop on poetry in Smith Brasher Hall on Main campus.
One of the best things people can do in poems is share stories that help build connections with other people and give them a shared language for an experience that feels singular but through poetry can become universal, Awad explained.
“It is important for us to engage with difficult subject matter and important for us to bear witness to the times that we live in, but how do we do that responsibly? That is something we are going to think a bit about . . . ,” she said
After students at the workshop read the poem “Animals” by Hayan Charara, Awad reread the poem to them and led them through analysis, discussion of the poem’s personal meanings for the reader, and critique on the piece’s emotional appeal and how Charara used it to draw in readers.
Sharing more about her work and processes, Awad explained that she had been writing for years about her Lebanese ancestries, specifically about her father who grew up in Tripoli, Lebanon, during the Lebanese Civil War.
“In writing about my father’s experiences, I have wondered what my responsibility as a poet is to write about subjects that I haven’t experienced firsthand,” she said. “Asking ourselves these questions keeps us from inadvertently writing about things that could be harmful to other people, from taking up space that doesn’t necessarily belong to us, to telling stories that aren’t necessarily ours to tell.”
The Authors Event will be celebrating its tenth year in 2020 during April, which is National Poetry month. The event organizers partnered with Leonardo, CNM’s literary and arts magazine, to expand the program and offer student authors an opportunity to read works before a live audience. The format will continue in 2020 with plans to build in more time for student authors, shared Mary Bates-Ulibarri, Campus Library Manager.
“The turnout and results of the workshop were very satisfying for all participants and we plan to make writing workshops a regular feature of the annual spring Authors Event,” she said.
English professor Rebecca Aronson and other creative writing faculty members sponsor writing groups for students interested in cultivating their writing, free and open to the public. The group at Main campus meets at 3:00 p.m. on Mondays in room 201G of the Student Resource Center.
Leonardo is another opportunity for students to get involved and announcements in the fall semester will state when they will begin to recruit editors and submissions of art and writing, she said.
“Leonardo is a great group of people to work with offering a terrific learning and growth opportunity, whether you want to enter and compete to get your work published and possibly win a prize – the right to get up and read in public, or you want to try working in the publishing industry. Publishing is an important part of how knowledge and creative ideas are shared, so these are great skills to learn and practice,” said Bates-Ulibarri.
Each campus library has a limited number of free copies of Leonardo to give away, in addition to copies that may be checked out. Each library also has copies of Ruth Awad’s book, Set to Music a Wildfire, available for check-out.
However, students do not have to wait to get into the writing life. They may access the CNM Libraries’ poetry guide, which features a variety of resources for poets, including an events calendar for poetry workshops and readings in Albuquerque.