Writing on the Walls

Kundiman Poets – Writing Race & Belonging: A Live Monument

Over the summer, in the midst of research and rest of the summer, I was part of this poetry project with Kundiman poets. On Governor’s Island, we came together to write poetry on the walls. Part of Writing on it All project — 10 poets constructed poetry live as it was displayed to poets at the island writing excerpts on the walls.

Sarah Gambito, Hossannah Asuncion, Cathy Che, Ching-In Chen, April Naoko Heck, Joseph O. Legaspi, R.A. Villanueva, James Autio, Nicole Terez Dutton, Vanessa Huang, Iain Haley Pollack, Zohra Saed, Metta Sama, and Javier Zamora.
Each poet chose a color and signed in the first few pages and then it became a color coded masterpiece. My color was hot pink.

Writing on it All Teaser on Vimeo

The process of writing with a group was an energizing force. Some semi-poems seemed to find their way into the world. Here are some finds from the pile of eloquence on the google doc we were composing on:

In Brighton Beach, we found rooftops to hide us and a crowd of sparrows to nurture us. The elevation helped us slip through the cracks of a questioning city. Moon mothers kept the language one toned in this one building. Their surma became the inkwell we dipped our feet into and stained the streets with our footprints. Jarring the mapmakers with our small inked feet.

A few other lines were in response to another poet’s work, as we were prompted to switch the focus of the writing. Here is one strange bramble of words in response to Nicole’s lovely line:

“the body grows lean within its own shadows. becomes prime number. good silver.”


The spine is first a knot, a neat punctuation of the body. Long and ever branching, reaching until it encases the body in shell. In the interlaces of word-bone, metal is the choice.

On July 17, we were again brought together to write a collaborative protest poem for Trayvon Martin. This was an incredibly moving project that dealt with racism, loss, and building community through poetry.  The full text of the poem is available here on the Kundiman page: Writing Race & Belonging: A Protest Poem for Trayvon Martin

Writing Race & Belonging, A Protest Poem for Trayvon Martin

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