NEIL DE LA FLOR | My love of (or fascination with) poetry
by Herb Sosa
Have you ever been at a loss for words? Maybe searched for
people that think & express themselves in ways you can relate to,
or make you think? Did you think you had to leave the comfort of
your beach chair and fly up north to find some Queer culture?
Neil de La Flor is changing all that, one word at a time.
Reading Queer programs the annual RQ Literary Festival, which
features local, national and international queer writers, the RQ
Writing Academy, a series of creative writing workshops led by
queer writers and artists, and Queer Screens: LGBTQ Film Series
in collaboration with O Cinema. Executive Director de La Flor
recently opened up to Ambiente.
What inspires you most to write?
When do you first remember putting down your thoughts on
paper, and why?
Kindergarten! But, it wasn't until my 11th grade American History
Class at Cooper City High School that I became conscious of my
love of (or fascination with) poetry. My friend Sage sat on the other
side of the room. She would draw graphic images for me and then
hold them up when the teacher wasn't looking. She would usually
draw men with disproportionate body parts and outrageous
muscles. I was like, 'wow'. I would write poems based on her
drawings. I didn't know it then, but I was writing ekphrastic poems,
which are poems that are vivid descriptions of works of art. It was
fun. It made us laugh. I remember writing poetry (on and off) ever
Tell us about the literary scene in South Florida, especially
I don't like to speak for the scene, but I'm a part of a seemingly
ever expanding and differentiating literary scene that is dynamic,
wondrous and wild. We have Reading Queer, O Miami, The
Writer's Room at the Betsy Hotel. We have the writing programs
at FIU and the University of Miami. We have Michael Hettich at
MDC Wolfson Campus. We have the Miami Book Fair. TransArt.
Bookleggers. There is so much literary culture blossoming that
I sometimes miss what's going on. It's exciting and, most
importantly, more and more inclusive of diverse points of views and writing styles.
How did Reading Queer start? Why?
I started Reading Queer on a wing and a prayer. Actually, I've always wanted to say that. I started it with my former thesis advisor,
collaborator and friend Maureen Seaton and fellow writer Paula Kolek. We applied for a Knight Arts Challenge grant and won. We then
applied for a Miami Foundation/National LGBT Task Force GLBT Community Fund grant and won. Then we took off running.
We wanted to create an organization that promoted queer literary culture in South Florida. We wanted to create a safe space for
queer-identified writers to come together and create. We also wanted to create an organization that nurtured local queer writers,
especially those writers who never thought they were writers or didn't know that they had that talent in them. We envisioned a series of
writing workshops spread over a two week period.
Instead, we grew into an organization that programs and produces major cultural events that re-imagines traditional literary readings as
innovative and dynamic live performances.
What makes for a memorable piece of writing?
Tears. Laughter. Preferably together. Memorable writing surprises me with innovative content and form. Those works that make you go,
Can one learn to write well, or must you be born with it?
It's all a learning process. I don't believe in gifts. I believe
some of us just have better access to them. The writing
workshops are just one way that I like to crack open our
inherent creative capacities.
3 things you can live without.
Water. Food. Friends.
Your favorite author, and why.
Like gifts, I don't believe in favorites. I admire the wildly
complex writings of graphic novelist Alison Bechdel.
I love her book, Fun Home. I admire complexity and
layers. Finding surprise in the most mundane things.
Tears and laughter. Preferably together.
What is the greatest poem you have yet to write about,
Whitney Houston and/or fried chicken. Preferably in the
LOVE: will keep us together.
MIAMI: oh my gawd.
SUCCESS: overrated .
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|Gracias|Thank You Celebrating 6 Years of
Somewhere between the Big Bang and the Big Gulp,
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us, the universe lives benignly unaware of our prayers and promises.
Somewhere between the edge of the cosmos and the comic book store,
the universe lives in the smile of a boy and/or a girl standing on the southwest
corner of 42nd Street beneath the bearded sky. In a blizzard. In awe of the
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Somewhere between heaven and hell, the universe lives free of sin
Between Ganesha and Goliath, the universe lives in an elephant’s memory
Between the belly button and the Achilles Heel, the universe lives with the
secret that no one, not even God, can remove obstacles that do not exist
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Between the real universe and the imagined universe, humans live in a
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Between you and me, the universe lives in the Well-Beings that reside within
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And even in the womb sealed tight from the light of the blue moon.