Aurora Levins Morales
- Artistic River Residencies Adaptations: Living with Change
- Type of work
- Writer and Historian
Aurora Levins Morales is an internationally known Puerto Rican Jewish feminist poet and essayist whose work explores issues of identity, social justice, and the interwoven social and natural histories of our landscapes and our bodies. Raised in a house full of books on an abandoned coffee farm in the mountains of Western Puerto Rico, by an ecologist father and an artist-intellectual mother, Aurora began writing as a child and never stopped. She’s the author of six books, and her work has appeared in dozens of anthologies, been incorporated into posters, theater performances, Jewish shabbat services, and bathroom stall graffiti. Her writing is both intimate and global, personal and analytical, drawing from the Latin American tradition of testimonio. She likes best to write sequences of short prose poetry sections that amplify, argue with and enrich each other, allowing her to fully express the complexity of her themes. It’s a form of writing that undermines monolithic dominant narratives, a style she learned from Latin American leftist journalists and essayists of the 1960s and 70s and US feminists of the same period. Her current project tells the water stories of the Mississippi River and the Caribbean.
Morales was in residence in 2005 (Pre-Katrina) and returned as an Adaptations resident in 2018. During her Adaptations residency she worked to produce a prose poetry book and podcast series exploring the connections between the ecological and social histories of the Mississippi River and the Caribbean Sea, as well as the shared experiences of New Orleans and Puerto Rico of hurricane devastation and disaster capitalism, drawing from community story circles, and extending into visions for just and resilient futures.
“For me, the time at the Studio was a turning point in a lifetime of writing. In the midst of struggling with the perpetual self-doubts and uneven leaps forward of every artist’s life, I came to a place of clear certainty about the power and trustworthiness of what I do. I had a writer’s birthday. The green, shaded, owl-crossed pond, and the long, wide, sunlit elevation of the levee, have become touchstone images for a kind of inner balance I found there. The river that haunted my imagination now flows across my desk, leaving rich deposits of poetry I know I will work for years.”