Blanco and Bailly Collaborate on “Poetry, Art, & Community”

Blanco & Bailly
Richard Blanco & John William Bailly at CVC in Miami

By Stephanie Sepulveda, 20 August, 2017

Poet Richard Blanco and artist John William Bailly have once again embarked on a collaborative journey, this time creating a new course, “Poetry, Art, & Community.” The seminar explores the living dialogue between community and the literary and visual arts, as well as the civic role they can (or ought to) play in the public realm with respect to matters that affect us collectively. The course is offered in the Honors College at Florida International University.

In an article on FIU News, Blanco describes his objectives in returning to the classroom:

“At critical times, we turn to poetry to find language for what we can’t understand about what’s going on or what we feel,” Blanco said. “That’s why I developed these courses, to bring to the forefront the scrutiny and wisdom of poetry as it relates to this critical juncture in our nation’s divide.”

“Every time I read a great poem or I sit down to write one, I discover something new about myself, the world and my relationship to it,” Blanco said. “And, so, I hope the same happens for them through the poetry we’ll read, discuss and feel. I want them to know poetry belongs to them because it is about them.”

An integral component of the course will be community events of art and poetry. After several years of successful partnership with Vizcaya and Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), FIU is expanding to include O, Miami to present a series salon events of art and poetry. The salons will kick off at Vizcaya on November 14 and an evening at PAMM in April 2018.

This is not the first collaboration between Blanco and Bailly. In 2006, the pair created the series Place of Mind, an exhibition that travelled throughout the US. Carlos Suarez de Jesus of the Miami New Times wrote, [Place of Mind] “features prints, paintings, and book art Bailly created in dialogue with Blanco’s poems. The gang of two has spun what might be read as dynamic visual diaries by engaging in a conversational collaborative process, which allowed the raw intensity of their personal dramas and musings on history to flow.”

When asked about collaborating with Blanco in this new capacity, Bailly said, “Richard’s voice as a poet transforms the personal into the universal. That is the magic, he captures the essence of who we are, our dreams and our failures. His guidance as a professor will reveal through reflection the cultural and humanistic beauty and tragedy of Miami.”

Below is the full course description:

The “Poetry, Art, and Community” seminar explores the living dialogue between community and the literary and visual arts, and the civic role they can (ought to) play in the public realm with respect to matters that affect us collectively: gender, sexuality, class, diversity, and race. Through service learning projects and exploration of local cultural landmarks and institutions, students will investigate/experience the relationships between community and the arts through the lens of their own creativity. Serving as cultural co-agents of change, they will collaborate with accomplished poets and artists to produce, curate, and host a public literary and arts salon that will feature poetry readings, visual art, and videography centered on the themes surveyed throughout the course.


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