It’s fairly typical for college campuses to have writing or literature clubs, but what makes the Pitt Poetry Collective ADDverse+Poesia standing out is its focus on showcasing BIPOC writers and providing them with a safe space, according to Carolina Hernandez, PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Creativity Secretary of ADDverse+Poesia.
“If you need to decompress, read some beautiful affirmative poems, meditate a bit, or just hang out, ADDverse is the band for you,” Hernandez said.
ADDverse+Poesia is a transnational, multilingual poetry collective that shares the stories and artwork of underrepresented communities in society – including but not limited to the LGBTQ+ community, the Black community, Indigenous and people living with disabilities.
The group currently has 32 members and meets every Thursday from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Luana Reis, Founder and President of ADDverse+Poesia, said she created the organization with the goal of creating a safe space for important conversations about society outside of the classroom.
“I started this collective out of the need to have a safe space to discuss important topics in our society such as blackness, homosexuality and diversity in general,” said Reis, a doctoral student in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures. . “I was teaching an advanced level Portuguese course at the time, and I felt the need to talk about these topics with students outside of the classroom environment.”
Reis said that as a black feminist poet, she was unable to separate intersectionality from her passion and identity, which led the club to focus on poetry, which allowed the organization to expand the number of languages it focused on.
“As a black feminist poet and researcher of contemporary black Brazilian poetry, I cannot separate my life experiences, my research interests, and my teaching,” Reis said. “We met once a week to read, discuss, translate and write poems in Portuguese. Then we started including poems in Spanish because a lot of my students were also Spanish majors.
Hernandez said what she loves most about the organization is the community that ADDverse has to offer.
“ADDverse is such a wonderful and welcoming space, especially for Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ students,” Hernandez said. “My favorite part was the strong sense of community – how supportive everyone is of each other – and learning to read and translate black, queer and Indigenous poetry, of course.”
Darrelstan Ferguson, Board Member, PhD candidate in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, said he loves the diversity that unites the ADDverse community and allows it to connect with other communities.
“I like the diversity of our organization. We are racially, culturally, linguistically, sexually diverse and more. Through this, we have been able to connect with equally diverse poets and scholars around the world, who have given us incredible talks every academic year,” Ferguson said. “We drew our strength from our diversity and our common love for poetry.
Reis said the organization works with a variety of languages and members of the Pitt campus, including students and faculty.
“Today, ADDverse primarily works with English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, but we also have members who speak Tagalog and Arabic,” Reis said. “We translated a poem into Tagalog this year. We have participation from undergraduates, graduate students and faculty from the University of Pittsburgh – and people from the community.
Hernandez said ADDverse has allowed her to find comfort and enjoyment outside of the pressures of academia.
“As a graduate student, ADDverse was a lifeline for me,” Hernandez said. “It’s easy to get caught up in the pressures of higher education. It has therefore been a joy to regularly meet with friends to discuss our shared passion for poetry, share our weekly challenges and achievements, and celebrate the work of marginalized artists and scholars.
Reis said the organization is seeking more funding to expand programming.
“What I would like to accomplish with ADDverse is to have more financial support to create an arts festival,” said Reis. “To bring together incredible artists committed to social justice to help us build a powerful space in which the beautiful diversity of our society is valued, celebrated and respected.”
Reis also said that if he receives more financial support, ADDverse would like to release a collection of the band’s work.
“We would like to publish a multilingual poetry anthology to disseminate the poems written by the band members,” Reis said.
Hernandez said the organization strongly emphasizes that poetry is not a luxury, but a necessity.
“Our ADDverse motto is, ‘Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence,’ which is a quote from the work of Audre Lorde“Hernandez said. “That rings really true for all of us in the band.”
Ferguson said the group would like more members of the community to attend its meetings so that the love of ADDverse poetry can spread to a wider group of people.
“We would love for anyone reading this to seriously consider attending at least one of our meetings,” Ferguson said. “We know that poetry isn’t for everyone, but we aim to show the opposite – that poetry is for everyone because it suits our every whim and fancy. We can make poetry what we want it to be by expressing ourselves in the magic of words.