Both Ashland and its sister city, Guanajuato, Mexico, are home to many poets and poetry lovers. To celebrate the two cities’ friendship and the vibrant poetry of the Hispanic community, Ashland’s Amigo Club is hosting its fourth annual Spanish language poetry recital from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 5, at the Schneider Museum of Art. 

The event is open to the public, and Amigo Club president Betzabé Turner says the more, the merrier. “We’d love to see lots of people there. The museum is a perfect venue and the event is fun and welcoming,” she said. All the poems will be read in Spanish, but Turner says that visitors don’t have to understand Spanish to enjoy the poetry. “The energy is infectious and you can feel the beauty and soul of the language,” she said. 

Participants will include Guanajuato dignitaries, local Spanish students and members of the Hispanic community. “I am excited about the mix of people reciting poems,” said Turner. “Hispanic doesn’t just mean people from Mexico. There will be people from Mexico, but also people from Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, Columbia, Panama and so many more places,” said Turner. “Spanish-speaking countries are incredibly diverse.” 

While some poets, including Guanajuato University professor and poet Francisco Licea, will recite their original work, others will share poems by well-known poets from their home countries, such as Gabriela Mistral, Rubén Darío, García Lorca and Pablo Neruda. Turner says it is a treat to see and hear people connecting to their home through poetry. “Whether it is a poem they have memorized in childhood or a poem they chose for this occasion, it is lovely to see so many people reciting a poem that gives them joy,” she said. 

The Amigo Club is made up of locals who support the Guanajuato Sister City program and the Amistad Exchange Program between Southern Oregon University and the University of Guanajuato. The similarities between the two cities, including well-regarded universities, a mountain setting, strong cultural legacies and acclaimed theatrical performances, inspired the idea of seeking a Sister City alliance. 

Since 1968, more than a thousand students and university staff have participated in exchange programs between the two cities, and American and Mexican citizens of all ages have traveled back and forth between Ashland and Guanajuato on trips coordinated by the Amigo Club. “Our communities are so connected now, and we have such a close relationship with Guanajuato. It’s a very special relationship,” said Turner. 

Each year Ashland sends two “princesses” to a major festival in Guanajuato, and a delegation from Mexico, including the festival’s queen, participates in Ashland’s Fourth of July Parade. Many of the delegation will be at the poetry event. “Now is already such a festive time. It’s wonderful the way everyone participates, not just coming to the event but really with their hearts and the poetry that connects us all,” said Turner. 

For more information about the event and the Amigo Club, visit AshlandAmigoClub.org or call Turner at 541-482-3095.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Angela Decker at decker4@gmail.com.