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Poetry Week at SMA

Susan and Muriel Logan

Joan Alexander and Joan Boyl

By Karla Ortiz

Jennifer Clement and Barbara Sibley are the founding sisters of San Miguel Poetry Week. They decided to create this event because of their tremendous love for poetry, fueled by growing up in a poetic atmosphere in which their entire family participated.

In 1997, they seized the opportunity to take their love of poetry to the next level. In the first week of every January for the last 22 years, Clement and Sibley have organized this popular event, which brings out the best poets of the city and some from abroad every year. This year, San Miguel Poetry Week took place January 3–7 in the Teatro Santa Ana.

Poetry workshops took place in the morning, attended by about 40 people who were then given the opportunity to present their works on Sunday, January 7, at the Teatro Santa Ana.

“Almost all of the people who take the workshops are poets at a very high level, with published books and awards. We don’t call them students, we call them participants,” said Jennifer Clement.

In the afternoons, the theater filled with people who heard readings by guest poets from Mexico, Europe, and the United States, such as Mark Doty, author of nine books of poems, including Fire To Fire: New and Selected Poems. Doty was a National Book Critics Award recipient in 1994 and the first American poet to win the UK’s T. S. Eliot Award. Other guest poets included Sholeh Wolpé, a poet, writer, and lecturer born in Iran who won the EP/Heim award in 2014, the Midwest Book Awards in 2013, and the Lois Roth Persian Translation Award in 2010, and Ahren Warner, whose first book, Confer, was a recommendation of the Poetry Books Society. He received an Eric Gregory Award in 2010 and a grant from the Arts Foundation Fellowship in 2012 and is currently the poetry editor of Poetry London.

Rounding out the group of distinguished guests were Brandel France de Bravo and Jennifer Clement. De Bravo is the author of two award-winning collections of poetry (Provenance and Mother and Loose), co-author of a book for parents, and the editor of a bilingual anthology of Mexican poetry, Mexican Poetry Today: 20/20 Voices. He has an MFA from Warren Wilson College’s Low Residency Program for Writers.

Clement is the author of Widow Basquiat, a book about the painter Jean Michael Basquiat. Her novel Prayers for the Stolen was a PEN-Faulkner Award finalist and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice book. In 2016, she received the Guggenheim Fellowship for her novel Gun Love.


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