The End of Poetry Week

Semana Poética VIII is history. It was tiring, but also a lot of fun. There were some excellent readings, memorable conversations, new friendships... overall I feel really good about it. We had poets with tremendously different works and backgrounds together here at Dickinson... They met us, one another, met with our students... There was one moment on Wednesday night that captured this organized chaos beautifully. Isabel Pérez Montalbán (Spain) and Lev Rubinstein (Russia) had just finished their reading in front of a big audience (over 150 people, that's a lot for a poetry reading). Neither Isabel nor Lev speak English. A student asks a question directed at both of them. The interpreters jump in. There was a funny moment, the poets huddled at the ends of a long table with their interpreters. Muffled mumbling. Smiles. Spanish. English. Russian. English. Back and forth... For many students simply hearing a language they don't understand is a new experience. To sit through a reading, following the translations in the printed booklet or up on the big screen I'm sure gets some of them thinking about language. They've opened up the possibility of learning not taking language for granted. That is, to consider (again, always...) that language needs to be challenged. More importantly: how we use language must always be challenged. Is that really what me mean? Can we say it better? More precisely? Is there any thought there or is it just mumbo jumbo? Does this person know what he/she is talking about? We finished Thursday night with a big paella. (Thank you, Mike, Chris, Tsveti, and Dan!) I made it for close to sixty and there were not more than 45 guests, but they didn't leave anything behind. Nothin'. I guess they like it. In any case, we had lots of fun.

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