The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Yaddyra Peralta's work captures the fleeting and unstable essence of memories. Her poetry in many ways is a memory room, a space where the past lives on the page. Peralta's work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Jai-Alai, Abe's Penny, Tigertail, Hinchas de Poesia, the Miami Poetry Collective’s Cent Journal series, and Lies and Truth, the poetry supplement to the Tabloid series accompanying Miami Art Museum’s 2010 New Work Miami exhibition. She received her MFA in creative writing from Florida International University. Tonight, Peralta will present her work at the Betsy Hotel-South Beach for their monthly Literary Cocktail Series. The event is free, open to the public and begins at 7 p.m. In this brief interview, Peralta discusses the work that she will present tonight at the salon.
Neil de la Flor: Tell KnightArts about the topic of the salon.
Yaddyra Peralta: I am still working out the kinks! Let's call it" "Immigrant Blues," or poetry of witness for the non-witness. In all seriousness, I will read from my manuscript in progress Deep Waters, which deals with the immigrant experience but is written by a Honduran American who has spent 80 percent of her life in the United States; the poet's memories are fading. In addition to reading from my work, I will read poems by other poets that address my use of surrealism and post-confessionalism to address the liminality of the exile/immigrant/transnational experience.
ND: What's it like being a teacher and a writer?
YP: Being both a teacher and a writer is a challenge. I work primarily with students at the vocational/community college level. It is a privilege and a call to action to try to convince most of my students that oral and written communication are vital skills no matter what field they go into. All I can hope for is that I am clear, that I challenge and that some of my enthusiasm for the written word is contagious.
I am slowly being offered opportunities to teach and speak about the craft of poetry. Being clear and lucid about that which I often do as if in a half-dream...that's a new muscle I am trying to develop.
ND: What motivates you to write?
YD: It's what I am best at. Poetry and art in general is my air and my religion. I am also a naturally curious person. I want to know about whatever locale I am in; I want to know about my family history; I want to understand what motivates humans—the good and the bad. I suppose I could have been an archeologist, anthropologist or historian and I was interested in all those fields as a child. But I am an imaginative thinker. I like to conduct these searches using unorthodox and non-linear methods, so I chose well when I dedicated myself to poetry.
ND: What are the biggest challenges or obstacles you confront when creating your art?
YD: I could say—as most writers and poets do—finding the time to write. However, I lead a simple life. I am unmarried, have no children and lead the most quiet and boring life during the week. I can write at night, during the day, in a quiet room, in the middle of a noisy coffee shop. The hardest is when I am teaching a full load because a lot of my energy goes towards my students.
In addition, I find it a challenge—a good one—to keep it fresh. The best cure is a healthy dose of open-minded catholic reading, including outside the genre of poetry.
The Literary Cocktail Salon with Yaddyra Peralta will take place tonight (thursday) August 1st at 7 p.m. at The Betsy Hotel, 1440 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-760-6900; www.thebetsyhotel.com. To RSVP for the Literary Cocktail Salon, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For a list of upcoming writers and artists, visit The Writer’s Room at The Betsy. To apply for a residency, review the pertinent information here.