Filmmaker Joyce Lee and the Center for the Art of Translation created “Poetry Inside Out,” a 30-minute video that explores growing up bilingual in the Bay Area. Lee collaborated with writers, teachers, and students participating in a creative writing and literary translation program founded by the Center. The film offers a glimpse into several students’ lives and the insightful poetry they write–expressing their feelings and opinions. It also demonstrates that students can thrive and be masters of two or more languages when given resources and encouragement.
Lee’s life experiences gave her special insight into the students she was filming. She attended public schools as a child in the Pacific Northwest, and writes, “Speaking no English when I first attended elementary school, I was placed in a full English immersion program…. After years of public school with a handful of Asian American students who followed the same course of education that I did, I noticed that we all had one thing in common: we learned to be embarrassed about our native culture.”
Joyce Lee is an award-winning independent filmmaker and writer with a fine arts background in painting and drawing. Her debut film, Foreign Talk, was one of the few films that tackled racial tensions between African Americans and Asians after the Los Angeles riots of 1992 and received recognition for its cutting-edge form and content.
The Center for the Art of Translation, founded in 2000, promotes international literature and translation through the arts, education, and community outreach, sponsoring TWO LINES, a journal of literary translation, and Poetry Inside Out. The latter is the first imaginative writing program in Bay Area schools in which translation plays an essential part.
Photo credit: Debra St. John