Graduate student and Ohio State alumna to present poetry readings with focus on immigration

“More Salt Than Diamond,” a collection of poems by Aline Mello, will have its Columbus book launch at Two Dollar Radio Headquarters Wednesday. Credit: Courtesy of Aline Mello

The Columbus launch of “More Salt Than Diamond,” a collection of poems by Aline Mello, will feature an evening of poetry reading, food and conversation.

Mello, a master’s student in creative writing, will celebrate the launch of her new book, “More Salt Than Diamond,” Wednesday at Two Dollar Radio Headquarters, located at 1124 Parsons Ave. Beginning at 8 pm, the event will feature readings by Mello and Ruth Awad, a poet and 2009 Ohio State alumna, as well as a conversation between the two, according to the event brite page.

“More Salt than Diamond” explores themes of immigration, being undocumented, the body, eating disorders and a search for belonging, Mello said. The poems in Mello’s book are a reflection and interpretation of her own experiences de ella and provided her an outlet for expression, she said.

“I needed something, like some sort of creative outlet, to make me feel present in my body and in the world and to make me feel connected to something,” Mello said. “I didn’t really think I was writing a book. I was just writing poems because it helped me.”

During her struggles with depression, Mello said she wrote constantly as a way to work through her grief. These poems make up much of her book of her.

“I don’t think people need to make their grief useful or beautiful, but it’s really nice when you’re able to do it,” she said. “It makes it feel like the heaviness was useful, like the heaviness was beautiful and like I can do something with it instead of just carrying it around with me.”

Mello is an immigrant from Brazil, according to her website, and she said immigration is one of the main themes throughout her work. Mello said she hopes her poems by Ella will contribute to breaking false narratives around immigrants.

“I am trying to add to immigrant voices. I’m never a representation of immigrants, but I can add my own perspectives and stories to it,” Mello said. “I want it to be as diverse as possible so that immigrants aren’t just this monolith or, you know, this ‘good immigrant, bad immigrant’ sort of narrative that we’re sold our whole lives.”

During the book launch, Awad said she will read poems, including some from her 2017 book “Set to Music a Wildfire.” Ella’s Awad’s poetry also has main themes of immigration and diaspora, she said.

“Given the subject matter, especially with my first book — which largely focuses on my father’s experiences while growing up in Tripoli, Lebanon, during the Lebanese Civil War — I think that we have a lot of common ground as far as exploring those topics in poetry,” Awad said.

Unlike Mello, Awad was born in the US, but she said growing up in a predominantly white town meant she had to navigate tension.

“My first book was kind of a way for me to bridge that gap between my father’s world, what he has grown up in and what he experienced and then, you know, the privilege of learning about it through story instead of firsthand experience,” Awad said.

For those who may be struggling with their own grief and hardship, Mello said she hopes her book can offer encouragement to begin facing those challenges.

“I hope people feel maybe empowered or encouraged to face some of their own heaviness and pain struggles,” she said. “I think sometimes when I see a poem about something that I haven’t addressed yet, I’m like, ‘Oh, if they can do it, I can do it.’ So I really do hope that it’s like an invitation for readers to also explore some parts of themselves that they might think they can’t explore.”

Doors for the event will open at 7:30 pm Registration for the event is free but required in advance through Eventbrite. Proof of vaccination is required for entry, and masks and social distancing will be encouraged. Mello’s book “More Salt Than Diamond” will be available for purchase at the event.

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