Khhhaaaaaaaaan…. loves O, Miami and its celebration of the written word. 🤗 (🎨: Beatriz Monteavaro)
Since 2011, O, Miami has spent the month of April encouraging Miamians to get creative about their relationship to the written word. The annual celebration of all things poetry, literature, and language invites locals to rethink everything they thought they knew about writing.
2021 may be a very different world from the one O, Miami emerged in, but the festival’s mission remains the same. Each Tuesday this April, The New Tropic will be spotlighting the programs, workshops, and creatives behind this year’s iteration. Today we’re sharing a Q-and-A with poet Emma Trelles and artist Beatriz Monteavaro. Their online workshop, the Star Trek-themed “For the Love of Khan: Poems for the Future,” takes place on Thursday, April 8, and invites participants to write poems in response to Monteavaro’s original illustrations inspired by the beloved sci-fi series.
What inspired the creation of “For the Love of Khan” for O, Miami 2021? How did it come about? Is there a particular purpose behind sharing such a specific idea with the community?
Emma Trelles: I’ve been working with Letras Latinas, the literary initiative of the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame, for a decade, pretty much since my book Tropicalia won their Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. Letras Latinas’ director Francisco Aragón saw that O, Miami was rolling out its 10th-year anniversary program, and he suggested I come up with a proposal for it. I loved the idea since I actually read at the inaugural festival and because, even though I live in California now, and I love it here, Miami will always be my hometown. I wanted to pitch something that would combine poetry and visual art, a cross-pollination I’ve been working with since my days as an art critic at the Sun-Sentinel. I’d been following Beatriz on Instagram, but I’ve admired her work for a long time — she has such a unique way of combining playfulness with intellect so that her work not only communicates emotion, it does so in a way that’s enticing. I reached out to her, and we brainstormed together and came up with the Khan workshop because of her super cool Star Trek illustrations (and also because we are both sci-fi nerds).
Beatriz Monteavaro: I started working on a series of Star Trek drawings at the beginning of the pandemic as a way to remind myself that humanity would get through this, and we would end up in the future. I shared them on social media as soon as I'd finished one, with the hopes of cheering other people up too. Emma saw these drawings on IG and hit me up about doing this project. I suggested I had started working on a Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan zine, and perhaps we could go in that direction. By sharing this meditation on Star Trek with the community, we hope to bring feelings of hopefulness, equity, fun, and the future.
How will this workshop work?
ET: We’re going to open up with a chat about why we’re inspired by sci-fi movies and shows, and we’re hoping that participants will share their own connections to them as well. Then we’ll do a quick creative writing prompt that places us in the world of Star Trek and the specific characters and scenarios that Beatriz has drawn. After that, I’ll show an example of ekphrasis, poetry responding to visual art, by Latinx poets from Miami, and then we’ll get to writing our own poems. Really what I hope is that people respond to the art by writing in ways that feel imaginative and fun. I’m also excited about the digital and print zine we’ll make afterward. It will include everyone’s poems and be designed by Rebekah Monson and Andrea Vigil, both of whom I’ve worked with in the past and who are dear friends. We’ll spread those zines around Miami and virtually like space seeds, a simile I’ve stolen from the original Star Trek episode where Khan first appears!
BM: All 12 of the drawings I produced for this will be available as poetry prompts. We'll be talking about Star Trek, and spaceships, aliens, sci-fi. I envision a two-hour-long nerd party with poetry production.
What would you like people to take away from your workshop experience?
ET: That Ricardo Montalbán was a badass Latinx actor who deserves a lot more credit than he gets. That any subject can fuel art as long as you’re passionate about it. I also hope we can make our own little community of sci-fi fans or maybe just people who love art and language. We want everyone to have a good time. Even when the story becomes dire or dystopian, science fiction is also about courage and hope, and this project is about creating that too.
You can learn more about Emma Trelles and Beatriz Monteavaro by visiting their respective hyperlinked websites. “For the Love of Khan: Poems for the Future” starts at 7:30 on Thursday, April 8; tickets are available here and you can learn more about O, Miami by visiting the festival’s websitesocial media channels.