“Different Projects Guided By the Same Theme”
By Courtney McNamara
Poetry itself can often be a source of inspiration, a figurative set of words that, when interpreted by an individual, serves as a supply of strength. Certain poems carry themes of hope, courage, and vitality but are typically masked by intricate language and flowery verses. Sometimes it can be hard to find the practicality in these beautifully written works of art. Enzo Surin is a poet, but he is also the author of an inspirational column filled with “words of encouragement, empowerment and practical suggestions for living a meaningful and more fulfilling life”. Put all of these columns together, and you have A Different Kind of Love, a book filled with doses of self-help that will not leave you scratching your head, but can prove to be quite soothing. Surin explains that although the two forms of writing are different, his mission behind sharing his writing with the world remains the same.
Haitian-born poet Enzo Surin was not a native English speaker. After learning Creole and French, the process of learning the English language was one that came with a forced urgency. To anyone who has had to learn a new tongue, it is usually less daunting to focus on written words as opposed to those which come out of your own mouth. Surin discovered the safety of expression through the written word, a great support for the transition to the unfamiliar melody of English. As a young boy, Enzo branched out to use his creative skill as a social mechanism, engaging his American friends by including them as characters in his original plays. Writing had a practical use; through his projects he also was able to reflect upon the tumultuous environment of his neighborhood at the time. Beyond these coping mechanisms, Enzo’s writing matured when he became engrossed in his own introspective thoughts.
Surin was able to pinpoint his first poem, which came to fruition after a series of thoughts about the movement of rain across the trunk of a tree. The comparisons to tears, the anthropomorphic qualities given to the tree were all distinctions from his past forms of writing. Yet throughout all of these stages of writing, there cannot be a finished product unless the author is truly compelled to write about a particular subject.
Enzo described this feeling of compulsion as when a subject “grabs me, and I can’t shake it, often losing sleep over it.” Growing up in New York City, the subway often served as a moving, breathing body of inspiration. Surin first had his book of poetry, Higher Ground, published in 2006. He cites attention to the “plight of the human condition” as one of the purposes of his writing, fitting in with the “resilience” of his mother-nation of Haiti.
However, his latest book steers away from his first love of poetry, based on another project he had been working on. A Different Kind of Love was recently published as an eBook and contains more practical ideas for anyone who wants to live a more fulfilling life. Enzo created an opportunity for his words to reach an audience beyond those who already appreciated his poetry, and did it at a time that fit with the somewhat dismal state of the US economy. In his efforts to truly spread his message, Enzo made the book readily available electronically and at a controlled price. Enzo’s mission to help others does not end with his own published works.
Many idealistic Americans can’t understand why there is still such a high illiteracy rate in this nation, and more importantly why there is not more being done to address this issue. The practical reality is that many of these educational resources are costly, often impeding the efforts of literacy initiatives. As a firm believer in the power of poetry as a way to engage students in their own education, Enzo Surin created INKp.a.l.s , or Ink Partnerships Affecting Literacy. This online resource is available to students and teachers who wish to incorporate poetry as a more discernable method of instruction. The best part? It’s free. Check out http://www.enzosurinink.org/literacy/ to contribute your own writing assignments, or be challenged by the thought-provoking ideas of others.
From his own poetic writings, to his practical words of encouragement, and his endeavor to support the literacy of writers of all ability levels, Enzo Surin’s body of work includes a wide range of projects. However, his mission, whether reflected figuratively in the words of his poems, literally in his encouraging doses of inspiration, or inherently in the idea behind INKpals, reads the same: to help others “get over”.
To learn more about this author and his project, please visit www.enzosurin.com
Enzo Silon Surin is a Haitian-born poet, writer, playwright, speaker, advocate and the author of Higher Ground (Finishing Line Press, 2006), a collection of poems on urban renewal, which was nominated for the Massachusetts Book Award. He is also the author of A Different Kind of Love, an eBook of inspirational writing. Surin’s poem, Events on Paper Smear, won the Boston Mayor’s Poetry and Prose Competition. His poems have also appeared in Reverie: Midwest African American Literature, Freshwater, The Caribbean Writer, Soundings East, among other literary journals.
Surin lives in Massachusetts, where he founded and heads the literacy initiative INKp.a.l.s, a project aimed at using poetry as a tool to increase literacy and affect social change. He also co-founded and serves as editor of The Bunker Hill Bridge: a literary journal of Bunker Hill Community College. Surin is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at Lesley University.
– Bio from www.enzosurin.com