This journey starts with a desire to hit the yoga mat and to gain sustenace through meditation and the need for sanctuary. Frankly speaking, one fine afternoon, I felt sluggish and unemployable – a two-year poet/performer freelancer with more ups and downs than the most chilling rollercoaster, and so I sought the safety of a yoga studio.
Luck happened to be a shiny penny that day destined to find my pocket. I happened to run into one of my favorite women on this blue planet, Dr. Shelle Sanchez of the National Hispanic Cultural Center – ABQ NM. Together we “ohhhmed,” we “asanaed,” and afterwards we spoke about a recent situation in which I was working closely with a male counterpart who had (not without aggression) asked me to pull a “female body-loving poem” from my classroom curricula. I politely declined and let him know without doubt that I was officially resigning from a further collaboration.
How unfortunate that the young woman’s group that I had been assigned to would not be able to engage in the fierce feminista poetry and discussion agenda that I had designed for them.
MM Head shotBut wait! Dr. Sanchez, a sage not without immediate solutions always tucked away in her (metaphorical) back pocket, reminds me that the upcoming March was the annual Women & Creativity Series. And would I like to develop a writing workshop for W&C 2012? Oh, Goddess, would I? My response was an astounding YES! Oxygenated and limber, born anew from my hour long of Warrior I, Warrior II and Happy Baby yoga poses, I left to percolate further.
Thus, La Palabra – The Word is a Woman was brought forth.
“Because the creator is female,
there is no stigma on being female;
gender is not used to control behavior.
To be different,
to be unique was blessed and was best of all.”
– Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit, Leslie Marmon Silko.
La Palabra began as a four-part poetry writing intensive workshop designed to assist the writer in creating a literal and metaphorical “body” of work. Each workshop was sectioned off to address a particular region of the female body. Together we focused on the topography of the body in the context of its beauty and flaws, functionality and health, sex-positivity and sexual/gender identity. We took care to identify and include other cultural and geographical relationships that contribute to the daily transformations that work to create who we are as women and as writers.
Essential to the workshop was an on-going ekphrastic writing prompt utilizing a collection of black and white photographs portraying the unique and varied landscape of the female body. The workshop culminated in a linked poem of four sections.
La Palabra is a collective that explores the idea of creation myths, feminista philosophies, and female creative principal. We work to stitch together the song of our body, creating ourselves anew, through the lens of the written and spoken word.
“A word has power in and of itself.
It comes from nothing into sound and meaning;
it gives origin to all things.
By means of words can a (wo)man deal with the world on equal terms.
And the word is sacred.”
– The Way to Rainy Mountain, N. Scott Momaday.
We started off 14 enrollees strong and have grown to ever include all women of all diverse backgrounds and supportive and strong men who together share the vision of The Beauty Way. Thank you to Leslie Marmon Silko for inspiring such feats of self-love and respect so that we may in turn give to others the best versions of ourselves.
Jessica Helen Lopez
Founder of La Palabra – The Word is a Woman