Spanish Professor Establishes Bilingual Poetry Contest and Mentoring Program for Would-Be Poets

Posted: March 3, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Rei Berroa
Rei Berroa

Since 1991, Rei Berroa, associate professor of Spanish, has been organizing an annual Poetry Marathon at Teatro de la Luna (Theater of the Moon), a bilingual theater organization in the Washington, D.C., area. During the marathon, poets from across the Spanish-speaking countries spend a day reading poetry to theatergoers.

After the 2005 marathon, the curator of the Arlington Arts Center asked Berroa whether he would be willing to organize a similar event at the center on a permanent basis. Thus was born a bilingual poetry contest and mentoring program for unpublished poets called In Two Tongues/En dos lenguas. The program receives financial support from the Arlington Community Foundation.

“Arlington has a large Latino community, and many times cultural events have a tendency to celebrate one culture in particular without creating a dialogue between two or more cultures,” says Berroa. “I hope to achieve such a dialogue. This program will bring together established voices in the world of poetry with new talent while also expanding the understanding and appreciation of the spoken word through translation.”

Three times a year, poets from the mid-Atlantic region who have not yet been published or heard may compete for a spot in a master class, where their work will be critiqued by established poets in the region. The winners will then participate in a public reading with those poets and have their work published in the Arlington Arts Center’s web site, as well as in Mason’s Hispanic Culture Review. Four judges will select five to six winners.

The first poetry reading will take place on Tuesday, April 4, as a kickoff to National Poetry Month and will feature readings by poets Luis Alberto Ambroggio and Kim Roberts. Readings are open to the community at large and take place in the center’s Tiffany Room from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Readings will also be held on June 1 and Sept. 28.

Submissions can be in English or Spanish, but all poems read to the public will be translated to the other language. The next deadlines for submissions are Friday, April 21, for the June 1 master class and poetry reading, and Friday, Aug. 18, for the Sept. 28 master class and poetry reading.

For more information, see Berroa’s web site or visit the Arlington Arts Center’s web site.

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