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Lyricism from Chaos: Writing Social Justice Poetry

with Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo in Highland Park

One Wednesday
7:00 to 10:00 pm
March 13, 2019

Political unrest is nothing new, but now in the year 2019, we are fighting for the environment, income equality, and rights for refugees, LGBTQ individuals, women, and children. Many in our communities are rising up against policies that seek to limit their resources and freedom. Yet what can we as poets and lovers of poetry do in response? During the twentieth century, poems such as  "I, Too" by Langston Hughes, "Yo Soy Joaquin" by Corky Gonzalez, "Puerto Rican Obituary" by Pedro Pietri, and "ID Card" by Mahmoud Darwish (to name a few) helped spark major political and cultural movements. In this three-hour seminar, we will read twenty-first century social justice poems by Fatimah Asghar, Chen Chen, Khadijah Queen, Emmy Perez, and others to study strategies for turning personal trauma, anger, and anxiety into authentic and inspired lyrical poetry. Through in-class writing prompts and experimentation, we will work together to turn chaos into offerings of witness and refuge. 

This class will take place at Book Show in Highland Park, where wine, sparkling water, and light snacks will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$100 for new students; $90 for returning students

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Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, a first-generation Chicana, is the author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications, 2016). A former Steinbeck Fellow, Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner, and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grantee, she’s received residencies from Hedgebrook, Ragdale, National Parks Arts Foundation, and Poetry Foundation. Her work is published in Acentos Review, CALYX, crazyhorse, and American Poetry Review among others. A dramatization of her poem "Our Lady of the Water Gallons," directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño, can be viewed at latinopia.com. She is a co-founder of Women Who Submit and a member of Macondo Writers’ Workshop.


“Poetry II was my first workshop at WWLA and my first time working with Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo. Xochitl's vision and direction for the class were right up my alley—as a teacher, she is open yet directed, stimulating and positive. I hope to take more classes with her at WWLA.” —Helena Lipstadt


Reviews of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge

"I am moved by Xochitl-Julisa's work, her embrace of familia, of places long gone and present, of abandoned things too, near or in a neighborhood house yet filled with luminous power as a 'black lava molcajete,' a 'mano,' and many kinds of cacti-enduring, inscrutable, fierce, & makers of nectar. Perhaps her verses are gazing at the border-crosser—perhaps at you and me. I found joy in Bermejo's work, her caring journeys, places I have traveled. Her touch is that of an artist. Unique, light, and expansive in its humanity. Bravissimo, Xochitl-Julisa!" —Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States

"Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo's poems rattle the heart, jolt the mind. Moving from the 'tender emerald bites' of nopales shared around a table to the brutal desert terrain crossed by immigrants, she interrogates the intimate and the political. Inventive, glimmering with Spanish, her language punctures silence and makes visible resilience. Her language is also curious; it's shaped by the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo, and it cruises through the city of Los Angeles. These poems weren't written to provide solace. These poems will break you in a thousand beautiful ways." —Eduardo C. Corral, 2011 Yale Younger Poets Prize winner for Slow Lightning

"Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo's poems are a haunting vortex from Mexican America, detailed with the items we share, the stories, the names, the old country memories, and also deserts, many, many deserts. Her voice is formidable, her language clear and complex at the same time. Here's a millennial poet that goes beyond the millennium." —Luis J. Rodriguez, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and Founding Editor of Tia Chucha Press