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Reflections on Lupercal's First Poetry Writing Workshop

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

By Lyla Cerulli

Each summer I find myself depressed-- missing school and work and some sort of purpose. The quarantine has aggravated this, making me feel more alone than I’m used to. As this happens every summer, I tried to fill my schedule with spoken Latin lessons, and asking for more homework. In fact, this blog post is something I asked for because I needed to stop myself from waiting for the days to end. 

I knew about the poetry workshop from being in the Facebook group and a Lupercal leader. I saw the event and thought that I wouldn’t be interested. Too sad, can’t bother, sorry. I have to stare at the wall from 3-4 and contemplate my place in society as a woman and if I’m properly fulfilling it. (I’m not.) 

(Un)Fortunately I told Skye directly that I would go, so I was bound to my word. How bad would it be to contemplate my place as a woman with other women reading about women? Beats staring at the wall. When the workshop started, I became a student again. I was amazed and excited by the other women: Maria Cunitz, Maria Marchina, and Proba. Robbed of the proper dactylic hexameter training, they challenged themselves with other forms of poetry: acrostic, distych, and cento.

I felt a kinship with these women, who perhaps similarly bored in their Medieval towers, sought to remedy this emptiness with challenges of the mind and Latin language. After each form was introduced, we were given a few minutes to write our own poems in the same style. I suddenly realized that I had this pent of creative energy that I was ignoring. I wrote about my school and my students, both of which I deeply miss and haven’t seen since March. 

At the end of the lecture, we had the opportunity to talk about our processes of writing the poems, and eventually read them outloud to the group. This was by far my favorite part as I was not only able to share my poems with other women, but also able to hear their amazing poems. They wrote about themselves, motherhood, cities they loved, and women they look up to. I not only amazed myself for my ability to be able to write anything, but was also thoroughly amazed by the work of the other attendees. I no longer felt alone, and this space made me feel inspired and supported by other female Latinists. 

I’m happy to say that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. Ashlie Canipe, who wrote an amazing acrostic for her own name shared her thoughts with me:  "I am beyond happy that I attended the Lupercal Writing Latin Poetry workshop led by Skye today. I consider myself a poet, I minored in Poetry Writing, AND I specialized in Greek and Latin poetry in my graduate work-- but I have not been as drawn in by a form as I was by the distych by Martha Marchina in a very long time. The experience of encountering new forms by women Latinists across millennia in a space intended for women and nonbinary Latinists of this millennium was unique: we were puzzled, awestruck, speechless, and loquacious together, and I left the hour with several resources, three somewhat-drafted Latin poems of my own, and a ton of validation regarding my skill level in reading Latin, speaking Latin, and writing Latin."

Lupercal does an amazing job providing this space for women and nonbinary people in the world of Spoken Latin. Each event I leave feeling as if I found a new friend, sometimes across the country, and sometimes across millenia. I’m happy to say that this time, it was both.  If you would like to continue to see Lupercal host events such as these, please donate here. If you would like some sassy wearable proof of your donation, take a look at our merch on Bonfire Lyla Cerulli is our NYC Lupercal Leader and a high school Latin teacher. 

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