In the middle of Miami’s pulsing nightlife, in the heart of Wynwood, you’d hardly expect to find a poet. But then Diana Pirgareu is an unexpected person.
In a city of immigrants, Pirgaru is different. Different accent, different background, different story of coming to Miami.
Pirgaru stands in Roku Winewood, an intimate outdoor wine bar and garden. She recites her work as the crowd sips wine, transported by her words.
She opens up her set with a poem about her brother.
“Wiping my tears/which I don’t have/asking myself/did we think victory great?/did we learn about freedom at home?/did our tv screens tell us the truth?/did we have to divide this earth at all?/did we have to terrorise our own kids in exchange for peace?”
Pirgaru started a poetry club called Barefoot Poets. She dreamed of creating a community and finding a place where people can showcase their art.
“I’ve been in it since the start in June and it means a lot to me,” said Andy Diaz, a member of Barefoot Poets and a friend of Pirgaru’s. “It gives me a chance to escape the monotony of routine with a unique event and an opportunity to share my view of the world in a way that I couldn’t share in the same way anywhere else.”
Barefoot Poets began with 10 members. Pirgaru’s effort to expand the community in Miami has given like-minded people a place to come together. Today, more than 21 poets are regulars, continuing to show up every month.
Usually, the group meets at the Center for Subtropical Affairs, 7145 NW First St. in West Little River, though its most recent gathering was in Wynwood. To keep up with scheduled events, follow Barefoot Poets on Instagram.
“She’s very involved in writing about leaving her hometown and her work is very nostalgic and a longing for perhaps missing her relatives and loved ones,” said Oscar Fuentes, a friend and published author.
Pirgaru was born in the Republic of Moldova, a small country between Ukraine and Romania. Her childhood is filled with fond memories of her seven siblings, inspiring grandfather and her unfaltering desire to create. Her love for poetry was always present, but the support of those around her was not.
“My literature teacher would say ‘Let’s invite Diana to the front’ and she would ask me to read and then she would make fun of me,” Piragru said. “She would make all the kids laugh at me.”
As a 20-year-old in Moldova, she applied for a spot in a green card lottery. To her surprise, she won.
“I was in the University,” Pirgaru said. “I was studying literature. Like one year before graduating, they called me and told me. ‘You have to leave in 6 months’.”
Although she faced countless discouraging situations, she continued to chase her passion. Her new life was set in motion as she arrived in the United States on Thanksgiving day 2016. Only speaking Romanian, Pirgaru was faced head on with a language barrier. Her upbringing seemed to contradict the new lifestyle she had slipped into.
“It’s a very hard culture,” Pirgaru said, as she explained growing up in Moldova. “I don’t know how to put it in words… It’s tough. Parents have to work and as long as you’re fed and have clothes they don’t really question how you’re doing.”
Pirgaru persisted and obtained her first job in the States.
“I was making cookies in a bakery,” Pirgaru said. “It was a Romanian bakery. My boss would call me stupid every day because I didn’t speak English.”
The ridicule made her more determined. She began studying the language. Five years later she has two published books: Sell Your Second-Hand Soul and The Ceremony of Leaving Someone You Love and one more in the works.
“When I moved here, I was like, ‘I will never be able to write in English’,” Pirgaru said. “I thought English didn’t have depth. And it’s not true.”