Nina Leap Foward

World Poetry Movement: Leap Forward

Poetry Reading for Action on Leap Year, 2012

Anais Azul, Teen Poet, Berkeley High School
Anais Azul, Teen Poet, Berkeley High School

When San Francisco poets responded to the “World Poetry Movement Call” to “Leap Forward” with a reading at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, I participated in the event and reported on it for El Tecolote in English and in Spanish.

In response to this crucial time for humanity and justice, poets from over 160 countries came together to hold local poetry events on Feb. 29, called “Leap Forward.” This unique day occurring only every 4 years reverberated with the poetic word. It was thrilling to be part of it.

In San Francisco, people congregated to hear poetry for a better world in three locations throughout the day, including in the heart of the barrio: The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. The Leap Forward event also honored the recently passed cultural activists, Piri Thomas and Daniel del Solar.

Jack Hirschman, San Francisco Poet Laureate, reading at Leap Forward Poetry Reading, February, 2012 (Leap Year)
Jack Hirschman, San Francisco Poet Laureate, reading at Leap Forward Poetry Reading, February, 2012 (Leap Year)

Jason Wallach, of the Mission Cultural Center read the World Poetry Movement Call and welcomed the audience. Executive Director Jennie Rodriquez presented a framed silkscreen portrait of Piri by Adrian Arias and the Mission Grafica staff to his widow, Suzie Dodd Thomas, and read a Pedro Pietri poem that was a favorite Piri’s.

Jack Hirschman, San Francisco poet laureate and U.S. representative to the World Poetry Movement, headquartered in Medellín Colombia, opened the poetry presentations with a powerful, explosive poem against the filthy broken system we live under, with strong x-rated language.

Mary Rudge, Poet Laureate, Alameda, CA
Mary Rudge, Poet Laureate, Alameda, CA

Mary Rudge delivered an embracing blessing, establishing the spiritual space with her poem “Illuminations.” Adrian Arias incorporated two poems into a performance art, where he made a delicious seven minute ceviche. One poem was translated by an off-stage echo and explored sounds. Devorah Major read a strongly complex, beautiful poem about defining peace from an impossible dream to an achievable reality while fluidly remaining a hope.

Teen poet, Anais Azul announced a walkout at Berkeley High against education cuts and then performed her poems with confidence and polish—one in English, and the other in Spanish that included singing. Jorge Argueta also read in two languages, using his own translation in a topical, angry and compassionate poem for the 400 Honduran prisoners who burned in a fire just two weeks ago. Mamacoatl sliding from English to Spanish blasted the makers of the Gregorian calendars and destroyers of the earth-based Indigenous sense of time with their invention of the Leap Year. Avotcja’s bilingual poem skillfully glided her rhythmic words in a belly-to-belly tango, going in and out of the two languages in the same poem. Singer Musa del Sol, on tour from El Salvador, added her dramatic songs.

Nina Serrano at Leap Foward
Nina Serrano at Leap Foward

I, Nina Serrano, closed the evening with a poem to Daniel del Solar, graciously accompanied by Camilo Landau on tres and Charlie Gruke on sax.


Below is the E-Call for the event sent to poets world-wide.

CALL: Let’s Organize the Greatest Poetry Events in the History of the Word and the World By Taking A LEAP FORWARD

The World Poetry Movement (WPM)/Movimiento Mundiale de Poesia (MMP) is pleased to announce to the world its next major event, which is called: 

A LEAP FORWARD and will take place E V E R Y W H E R E on the Leap-year Day and Night, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY  29, 2012.

The Coordinating Committee of the WPM/MMP urges all poets, groups involved with poetry throughout the world, to begin organizing events in their particular areas—-whether it involves cities, small towns or villages—under the umbrella of A LEAP FORWARD. 

It may seem only a coincidence but the Occupy Wall Street movement that began of September 17, 2011 occurred within the process of the call for 100 Thousand Poets for Change, the WPM event that manifested on September 24 of last year. And we have seen that, with the Occupy movement bursting out and proliferating all over, “there’s a poem being written by the people of the world” and it is filled with cries for justice and real democracy, with all the aspects of life–from the economic to the ecological–that were part of the very formation of the WPM itself, simply because they are part of the fabric of people’s yearnings everywhere.

Events that will be multiple leaps forward under A LEAP FORWARD moniker–events with poets who, in the past year, (what with Tunisia, Egypt, Wisconsin, to name but a few), have been catalyzed by dynamic inspiration and realize their consciousness of the world has grown by leaps and bounds, can reveal those passionate leaps as part of the great flow of events on Leap-year Day and Night, 2012, and collectively move the whole world forward toward the democracy that all of us are dying for and want to attain before we die.

Let the WPM/MMP know where your event will be held by writing:                     

Let’s Organize The Greatest Poetry Events In The History Of The Word And The World By Taking A LEAP FORWARD

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