Poems sparked by Roxana Perez-Mendez’s art at Taller Puertorriqueño

Workshop participants shared their visions, memories, thoughts about Puerto Rico in poems written in response to Roxana Perez-Mendez's complex and beautiful art. Perez-Mendez is Puerto Rican and her video installations at Taller Puertorriqueño embody the artist's own fears and hopes for the island. The show closed March 25.

workshop participants at Taller Puertorriqueño
Participants at Look/Draw/Write workshop at Taller Puertorriqueño study Roxana Perez-Mendez’s art. Photo by Daniel DeJesus

Through the end of February and the month of March, Artblog has been hosting free Look/Draw/Write Workshops in partnership with Taller Puertorriqueño; we are trying to show the fun in writing about art! Our first three workshops have been discussing the work of Roxana Perez-Mendez at her show Quien a buen arbol se arrima. We’re very proud of the wonderful work by our workshop participants! These are the poems written in response to her work. Join us on April 22nd and 29th for two more free workshops studying Michelle Ortiz’s show, Quizás Mañana.

Poems by Participants in the Look/Draw/Write workshops at Taller Puertorriqueño

Puerto Rico
Una isla tropical
Igual de hermosa como una rosa.

Angie Perez Borrero


Me impactó el sonido,
La tecnología, combinación
Las tradiciones y la
Manera de emigrar
En tiempos antiguos.

Evangelico Castro

Mirar las tradiciones,
del campo, la música,
El campo, me recuerda
Que la vida era mas
En paz


Evangelico Castro

I see a woman cutting
Yet at night the field burns ominously
What she cuts is nothing.

Rafael Damast


Sing out your heart, woman.
Chopping the cane at night,
In your dreams you
Fly above the little island, happy.

Roberta Fallon

Yearning for greenness
Huge leaves reaching around me
Sink deep into earth

Susan Langmuir

Walk barefoot on path
Seeking rhythm from below
Ancient mother’s call

Susan Langmuir

Escondido in-sight
Fields aflame yet full of life
¿Isla encantada?

Rafi Lev

La naturaleza es todo arte imperfectamente
Creada por la perfecta creación de dios,
En la cual seres imperfectos podemos crear obras perfectas.

Mery Mencía

Raíces del pasado, que siguen
En la sangre tricolor,
Que nos hacen transportarnos al
Origen de nuestro interior

Diana Calcano Mencía

Cacofonía de sonidos
Memorias reencontrados
Paraíso perdido?

Carmen Febo San Miguel

Whose opinion?
We’re looking at someone’s life.
Taking control of someone else’s home.
Adding a plastic filter.
What is right?

Ilana Napoli

Looking at the miniature
Tiny bodies, tiny plants, tiny stomping feet.
Who put you there? Where is your home?
Looking at this happy place that doesn’t exist, questioning myself.

Ilana Napoli

Owned by U.S.A
A tourist destination
Island in shambles

Kevin Negrón

Puerto Rico is,
Beautiful and nice.
Love my small island.

Nilda Negrón

Rubber tire sits,
Housing Taino dancers.
Happy wishful dream

Roberta Fallon

Sounds – rhythmic, happy performance
Who is your audience?
What is reality?
For me…
People, families, celebrations
Of special moments, laughing
Embracing, enjoying

Luz Marin

Discover Puerto Rico in
The U.S.A.
Discover the island in the shade
The shade of green-
And in celebration
“To be free”

Marilyn Rodriguez

Music is a way
Of life, it lets me speak out.
Music feels like home.

Abdiel Y. Jimenez-Velazquez

Lush tropics ocean,
Masks societal challenge,
Wishing to be there.

George Zolot

Mujer Migrante
Response to “Crucero,” a video performance installation by Roxana Pérez-Méndez at El Corazón Cultural Center.

“Exile is a dream of a glorious return. Exile is a vision of revolution: Elba, not St Helena. It is an endless paradox: looking forward by always looking back. The exile is a ball hurled high into the air.”
—Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

From the island of your ancestors
To the city of your dreams
You travel each year,
Several times a year,
Once each generation.

On the deck of the New York and Porto Rico Steamship,
Rocked by the waves,
Through groups of happy tourists,
Around lonely, silent migrants,
You weave your way,
In and out of view,
Present, yet absent,
Your skirt short,
Your skirt long,
Your blouse white,
Your blouse blue,
The scarf on your head
Short and black,
Frayed and grey,
The shawl on your shoulders
Familiar and warm,
Or borrowed brand-new,
The bag on your arm
A refugee’s shapeless sac,
Or a stylish weekend bag

I see you,
Others can’t.
They claim you are the same,
One who appears, disappears,
Is barely there,
An elusive presence,
An old memory,
A longing for the past,
An embodiment of Roxana’s nostalgia

For the island,
For familia, tostones, arroz y habichuelas,
For rum and merengue,
For risas, amigos, amantes,
A mere figment,
A trick of virtual reality
Superimposed on an old photo
But I know you,
You are not a phantom,
Your name changes with each trip,
Your dress is different each decade,
But in each crossing,
You stand firm
In the front of the deck,
Pulling the scarf around your shoulders,
Looking out to the mainland,
Your gaze firm on your dream,
Embracing the unknown,
Your corazón de mujer, constante.

Lilvia Soto

Discover Puerto Rico sign is part of Roxana Perez-Mendez exhibit at Taller Puertorriqueño
“Discover Puertorriqueño” and a tourist video from the 1960s is part of Roxana Perez-Mendez’s installation, A Quien Bien Arbol, at Taller Puertorriqueño. Photo by Rafael Damast