Poetry project for local women of color to host book release event in Ypsi

A Washtenaw County-based poetry project for women of color will host an anthology release event from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, 100 Market Place in Ypsilanti.


The anthology, titled Love and Other Futures, is the result of the project known as Untold Stories of Liberation and Love. Aided by a grant from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, a core group of five women — Ypsi residents Desirae Simmons and Maria Ibarra-Frayre, Ann Arbor residents Julie Quiroz and Tanya Reza, and Detroit resident Catalina Rios — launched the project with a series of workshops starting in April.


The workshops' themes included "mothering," "migration and home," and "survival and vision." About 15 to 20 women of color participated in each session. Rios says they had a "good mix" of repeat attendees and new faces at the second and third workshops.


The focus of the workshops was not just on self-expression, but also community-building. Rios notes that the facilitators tried to make the workshops as accessible as possible, providing transportation, food, childcare, and a stipend for participants. Child care providers are thanked by name in the anthology for their role in bringing the project to life.


"We see poetry as such a powerful tool for transformation, for social justice, for creating community," Rios says. "We were very intentional about providing a safe space, but also a space for sharing and bringing their whole selves. A lot of the women came out with a sense of sisterhood and belonging, and I think they had a lot of fun."


After the last workshop, participants were invited to submit poems for the anthology and had time to edit their works before Quiroz arranged for the 70-page anthology to be published. The book is broken up into sections by theme. The introduction to the anthology is printed in both English and Spanish, and just under half the featured poems were either composed in Spanish or translated into Spanish for the publication.


The anthology release party will include readings from the authors, food, and music. A reading from the anthology is also planned for 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Black Stone Bookstore, 214 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti, and the anthology will be available on Amazon.


"We felt it was really important to center the vision and work of women of color and what they're doing in terms of social change, transformation, and internal healing work," Rios says. "These workshops were really a step forward for what we really want to see in this world. It's just the beginning of partnerships and community that we want to create."


Admission to the anthology release is free, and copies of the anthology will be available for purchase. Organizers are asking for RSVPs to help with planning food for the event. Attendees may register for the release party at EventBrite.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

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