Testimonials — See what our participants are saying about USPiM.


US Poets in Mexico was meaningful for me in ways I hadn’t expected. Being in Oaxaca was in every way a sensual emersion of colors, tastes, smells, language, landscape, architecture, graphic design, deep history and edgy modernity. Against that backdrop of place, we shared a week-long conversation about poetry through lectures, workshops and readings held in wonderful venues. I was especially engaged by lectures about the history of Mexican poetry, which is entwined with the country’s political and artistic movements, and a portal into Mexico’s passions. Conference organizers, faculty and fellow participants were the kind of people you want to travel with - smart, funny, resourceful and capable of awe. The USPiM experience touched more than just the poem center of my brain: I came back to the snowy Northeast excited about writing, printmaking and returning to Oaxaca! (Jan. 2016 Oaxaca)
— Deborah, PA
USPiM presented me with the invaluable opportunity to learn from fabulous poets who are also effective teachers and to be inspired to create new work in the context of Mexico’s rich culture and language. A unique experience! (Jan. 2016, Oaxaca)
— Sharon L., MA
We had a great time at the conference. Anselm was a terrific instructor, very smart. He laid a large quantity of thought and poetic challenge on us in five days. Catherine was a great discovery for me. I bought all of her books afterward. Anselm’s too, of course. Ron Silliman is one of the great guru’s and philosophers of contemporary poetry. His talks were lively and provocative. Andrei is a force of nature. You two (the front office) did a great job putting this together, too. We’re delighted that you’re going to do it again in Oaxaca, and will sign up at once when it becomes possible. (2014 Oaxaca)
— Roger, NY
It’s easy to fall in love with Oaxaca. The culture is rich with artists, artisans, archaeological sites, museums. The food delicious, and healthy too. Add simultaneous cultural and poetry immersion—extraordinary! I chose to spend workshop time in translation class each day. Wonderful support from teacher and fellow participants. Kudos to Sheila Lanham. She made a long distance into a short one. (2014 Oaxaca)
— M. Schnabel, FL
USPiM was an extraordinary opportunity for me to work with phenomenal writers in an inspiring environment. Before the conference, I had been struggling as a poet because I felt as if I kept writing the same poem over and over again. My workshops helped me reconsider my writing process, find new material, and even draft new poems—poems that I now consider my strongest. I can’t image how I wrote so much since I spent so much blissful time climbing pyramids, drinking wine in the town square, and attending readings. I loved that USPiM collaborates with local literary organizations and helps poets make connections across borders. I loved participating in the urban life of this gorgeous colonial city. Somehow this program fosters almost instant camaraderie among writers of diverse backgrounds and balances time for writing, exploring, and workshopping so you can take advantage of all Mérida has to offer. (2013 Merida)
— Elizabeth, Virginia
The US Poets in Mexico Program is a magical experience. Sheila Lanham has created something very special. She recruits both US and Mexican poets who are not only talented and well respected, but also inspirational and caring. Add a dedicated and “amiable” participant group and drop this eclectic mix of writers in lovely Merida and something quite delicious emerges. I could go on and on about how wonderful it was – but it would be best if you discover this program for yourself. Sign up now! You won’t regret it! (2010 Merida, 2011 Tulum, 2013 Merida)
— Alice Jennings, TX - 2013 MFA Candidate Translation Award
USPIM Tulum was a wonderful experience—renewing, refreshing and reinvigorating. It’s more than merely what you’d expect in a workshop, it’s what you hope for! (2011 Tulum)
— Jennifer, NJ
U.S. Poets in Mexico is a great vehicle for learning and applying the craft of poetry, for learning and experiencing Mexico, and having your horizons broadened about the vital work of translation. A well-organized week, with authors who are flexible towards whatever you’d like to get out of your work. (2011 Tulum)
— Sean, Portland
The experience was one of the best of my professional career. I would do it again tomorrow in a hearbeat. My passport is ready and I can be packed at a moment’s notice... Mérida is beautiful and the weather, despite the cold snap, was perfect for me at 70 degrees. The Hotel Caribe is a wonderful old building, located in the center of the city. Beautiful and convenient. ESAY was an inspiring location for classes – a funky art school carved out of Mérida’s original (1913) train station. The readings at the Mérida English Language Library were fine. One of the most enjoyable parts of the program was meeting so many talented and creative participants. I think that the Pyramid publication supports this. I hope to keep in touch with several because they were so interesting and productive... I was very pleased with the workshops I attended. As I mentioned at the outset, this was one of the best professional development activities that I have ever participated in. Worth every penny. I hope I will be able to participate in a future USPiM workshop sometime soon – it was really my kind of workshop and experience. Don, MI (2010 Merida)
— Don, MI
 
USPiM was an amazing experience. The faculty represented a diverse array of approaches to the craft of writing, and I discovered an instant community among the participants that spanned languages, geographical regions, and generations. Our conversations resonated long after we departed and many continue even now. Many thanks to all those who made the conference possible. (2014 Oaxaca)
— Leah S., 2014 Fellowship Award Recipient
US Poets in Mexico was amazing. Not only were the poetry workshop leaders and speakers outstanding and accessible, the participants were dedicated poets—many of them published writers and MFA candidates—open to new ideas and cultural exchange. The spirit of the workshop was collaborative, supportive, and stimulating. To be in a bilingual setting, with options for language study and field trips to places of historical and environmental significance and beauty, in the company of talented writers, was an immense pleasure. I came home with new poems and new friends, and feeling that I’d fallen in love with a place I can’t wait to visit again. (2013 Merida; 2014 Oaxaca)
— Ann H., IN
The first US Poets in Mexico workshop in Mérida, January 2009, was one of the most satisfying experiences of my literary life. The atmosphere was absolutely collegial—not a hint of hierarchy. “Faculty” and “participants” interacted as equals, and discussions were as open as one could wish for. Ditto for the social side of things: day trips, dinners, conversations with local poets and artists...no complaints here. The 2010 workshops should be equally wonderful, and there is a 100% chance of my return participation. (2009, 2010, 2013 Merida and 2011 Tulum)
— Marc, New York
Having a week to spend with other poets was a dream, and we were in a very magical place . Poetry seems to be an integral part of the Mexican people’s culture, and I greatly appreciated being exposed to that. I also loved listening to all the wonderful poetry that people are writing. Jerome Rothenberg and the other poets offered knowledge and kindness. I felt that I was sitting at the foot of Olympia and taking it all in. Thank you. (2011 Tulum)
— Mary, MN 2011 Fellowship Award Recipient
Merida, the capital of Yucatan, is one of my favorite cities in Mexico, so I jumped at the chance to attend the first U.S. Poets in Mexico workshops in January 2009. The teaching staff listed was also compelling, featuring some of the best contemporary U.S. and Mexican poets. But there were added features that I hadn’t realized I would also come to savor: the friendliness of all those who attended, students and staff; the late night dinners and drinks; the helpfulness, the encouragement, the new ideas and new viewpoints; the vibrant atmosphere that being among talented peers can create. I’ve been to other writing workshops, but USPiM now tops my list of inspirational settings for poets who want to learn, have fun, and experience a beautiful city. (2009 Merida, 2013 Merida)
— James, CA
Sheila Lanham’s organization of the workshop was professional and her welcome warm. Our mornings were brilliant, working in intimate groups with legendary poets. Young local poets joined the American visitors, enlivening our perspectives. Evening readings on the library patio paired some of the finest contemporary poets of Mexico and the USA, trading English, Spanish, and Mayan, forms, visions and passion. Magnificent! All levels of bilingualism (0 → total) were honored, and through the afternoon Spanish lessons and the wordplay in workshops my language skills expanded, in a magic-realist landscape (art institute housed in a deco train station, bomb-bright colors of the heladería, rioting jackdaws, cumbias in the street and a world beat disco, pyramids [13 doors facing East carved with flowers, 9 doors facing West adorned with skulls and owls], lagoon of mangroves [pygmy kingfisher (turquoise) diving and 10,000 (tangelo) flamingos rising]) new ways and means of poetry brewed…I returned home with enough assignments, reading suggestions and inspiration to last years, as well as an extended community of poet friends. I’ll return to a USPiM workshop asap. (2009 Merida)
— Cynthia, CA
If you are looking for inspiration, cultural exchange, a warm vibrant setting to meet new friends and surround yourself with poetry, the USPiM program should be your first destination. I enjoyed all aspects of my experience there including the well-organized program of classes each day followed by fun nightly gatherings to hear staff and students share their work. There were ample opportunities to get to know students and faculty in an intimate and non-intimidating atmosphere. In addition, Merida is a magical place, its cuisine, music and art are added treasures to this experience. I highly recommend this program to poets of all levels. Go, you will not be disappointed! (2009 Merida)
— Teresa, WA
 
US Poets in Mexico surpassed my hopes and expectations. The program offers poets a fine and unique opportunity to study with fine poets at various stages of their development. I welcomed the chance to experience Mexico as a student and in my capacity as poet/comrade of other like-minded poets each interested in admiring and absorbing Mexican culture as possibly only artists can (do). The readings were interesting. The translation workshop with Claire Sullivan was one of the best poetry education experiences of my life! My brief introduction to texts by poets writing in Indigenous languages has stayed with me...I managed to come away from US Poets in Mexico with a new book based on my experience of the Fiesta de los Muertos. (2014 Oacaca)
— Michele S., NY
Hats off to Sheila Lanham for her thoughtful planning and for taking such good care of us poets at US POETS in Mexico, Merida, 2013. Colonial Merida, Mayan culture all around, the gracious Mexican lifestyle, workshops in an old train station turned art school, the relaxed pacing, and a new immersion in poetry every day — it made for a wonderful week. It was great to study with three master poets and to gather in the evenings for outdoor readings against the fresco of books in the Merida English Language Library. Thanks especially for Ambar and Maruch who brought us the living Mayan language, stories, history and songs. And just when we needed it, a break to the seashore at Celestun: flamingoes, mangroves, all manner of birds and breezes. It’s lovely to swim with poets. (2013 Merida)
— Terry, Michigan
USPiM not only allowed me to work with one of my favorite poets for a week, it offered me a community in which I, and my non-poet husband, immediately felt welcome—something that travelers don’t always have. I got more out of being in Mexico with a group of individuals whose combined knowledge gave me more insight into place, culture, and language than I ever would have alone. The conference also helped me connect new experiences with my writing, to view cultural exchange through the lens of poetry. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to attend the conference, especially since it came at the perfect time—just when I was feeling like I’d exhausted my creativity from the fall semester. The conference, the people, the writers all recharged me and reminded me of my purpose, my drive as a poet. I can’t thank them enough.
— Emilia Phillips, VA - 2013 Fellowship Recipient
USPiM was full of met expectations and welcome surprises as I was struggling to take a step forward in my writing. I expected to learn a great deal from the wonderful faculty, and I did. I wanted to work hard, and I found a great deal of motivation and support for that. The most unexpected surprise, for me, was the level of accomplishment of each participant and the warm support and many kindnesses that emanated from the large group of poets gathered together. I hope to make this week a regular part of my winter holiday. (2013 Merida)
— Kirstin