Thursday, March 8, 2018

Voices Beyond the Wall

Grief shared is half grief; Joy shared is double joy.
~Honduran proverb

The subtitle for this movie is "Twelve Love Poems from the Murder Capital of the World":

Voices Beyond the Wall:
Founded twenty-five years ago in San Pedro Sula, a Central American city infamous for its poverty and violence, Our Little Roses is the only girls’ orphanage in Honduras. Seventy girls, ages 1-18, have found refuge there from broken and destitute homes, murderous streets, and the neighboring Bordo, the worst slum in the Americas. Inside twenty foot high concrete walls topped with barb wire, they receive medical attention, food, shelter, and the nurturing care of a vibrant and entirely female collective of other “Desechables”. (a slang word for orphans- also used for ‘disposable containers’).

"Voices Beyond the Wall" explores the question: how do those subjected to profoundest trauma and rejection begin to heal themselves and change the course of their lives? It bears witness to the catharsis that occurs when marginalized adolescent girls are encouraged to find their voices, in poetry and their own words. In the winter of 2012, Spencer Reece, an award winning American poet and Episcopal priest, came to live at the home for a year. On a Fulbright grant to teach the girls poetry and help them create a book of their own work, he found himself immersed in a profoundly challenging environment. His attempts to teach the girls were largely rebuffed- poetry is too difficult, personal, and boring they insist. Who would want to read about their lives anyway? Oh and Padre, we don’t like the words ‘orphan’ or ‘orphanage.’ We call ourselves “Chavas”. And we call this place home.

Home is both setting and subject of the film. What happens when a home is lost? What is needed to rebuild one? And the difficulty of growing up, leaving, and creating a home of one’s own. At the end of Spencer’s year, a book of the girls’ poems has taken shape and he returns to the United States to edit and publish it. The writings are moving and complex, operating both as emotional touchstone and an inspiration for the mosaic structure of the film itself. The range of subjects are varied but return often to the nature of love and family, the pain of betrayal, and the mothers they lost or never had. Always a central back-drop is the frightening world that awaits them outside the thick steel gate.


A couple of excerpts from poems by Honduran poets (not associated with the movie)...

by Juan Ramón Molina

I was a fish in the mirrors of the sonorous ocean wide,
where I beheld the glimmer of gems and metals;
that is the reason why I love the foam, the sourly
rocky shores, the briny gales, and the vivid choral reefs.

Then I was a treacherous viper of shifty tints,
magnetic pupils, and poisonous fangs; that is
the reason why I love the swamps, the shadowy trails,
the crepuscular wetlands, and the steamy forests.

Thereafter, I became a bird in a wild garden.

read the rest here


Elegy to Obesity
by Rigoberto Paredes

Blessed be obesity, its grease
full of grace, the perfect
and resplendent curves of its contours.
Happy are they of ample arbor
where all who desire it
may find a sure port to pass the night.

read the rest here


Today's Little Ditty has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Michelle!


Linda B said...

There are so many children in need, it's hard to know how to help. I have a former student who, with her husband, has started a school in the slums outside Nairobi, another place of safety for girls. Thanks for sharing this story, Tabatha, though sad in one way, it's good to know that there is one place of safety there.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Wow. I hope I get the opportunity to see this film one day! Certainly makes one think about how lucky we are in our lives. I enjoyed the poems you shared, as well. The first one reminds me a bit of a poem I shared on my FB page yesterday that had to do with "becoming" a horse. Thanks, Tabatha.

jama said...

Thanks for sharing about the Voices on the Wall project and for linking to two sample poems. Powerful and moving, and sad.

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

Wonderful poems, Tabatha. This question: "Towards which distant star shall I direct my flight/ when the time comes to look for another heaven?" If only we could choose the poetry heaven.

Jane @ said...

A perfect reminder for Women's Day, there is so much work still to be done to help our sisters all around the world.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Thanks for always giving space to the bigger picture, Tabatha, and the individual lives in it. Much work to be done on this planet, and in hearts. That first poem - " I shall lie in wait/for the sacred moment of renewed ascensions..." - beautiful ending lines to a poem I'm sure offers new revelations with each reading.

Diane Mayr said...

Funny how we both have posts dealing with orphans this week. I am in a blue funk this week, what with the weather and downed trees, the leadership of our country, and the world's cruelty. I hope things will brighten soon.

Liz Steinglass said...

Wow. What is there to say? I am just amazed by how these girls have made a life, a home, a family inside a wall surrounded by violence and danger and hatred. I would like to see the whole movie. Thank you for sharing this.

Donna Smith said...

But what happens when they are 19? Where do they go? How do they survive?

Linda Mitchell said...

Tabatha, These poems are so moving....the story behind them hits me harder than you can know. My own two daughters are from orphanages. It's very difficult to face what that really means. They are strong and brave for working through it even within the context of our loving family. Thank you for sharing this place in Honduras. I know that good will come of it. There are so many Honduran children scarred by the difficulties of their nation.

Mary Lee said...

Fascinating to come to this straight from Diane's Orphan Train poem...

Michelle Kogan said...

I'm glad there's light shining in this home for these girls, while at the same time with a heavy heart, torn that they should have to create a walled city. The poems and video are deep and moving, thanks for sharing them all Tabatha.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I went to college with Spencer Reece, was in a literary fratority with him. What a project.

Both these poems teach me that the fullness, the extremity, the magicality that I associate with favorite poets like Neruda and Octavio Pax, seems to be a characteristic of Latinx poetry across the board. Delight

Catherine Flynn said...

This is so moving, Tabatha. Thank goodness for Our Little Roses and other places like it, but how is it that such institutions are still necessary? Thank you for sharing about this film.