Representing nations through poetry

Today, I followed a link to a web site that I rather enjoy — the United Nations of Poetry. Serendipitously I found the link and learned that it presents a catalog of international poets. I noticed, however, that some nations are missing from the list. For example, Germany is not represented. Consider including German language poets Durs Grünbein, Michael Hofmann and Sarah Kirsch. Also notably missing are Polish and Russian poets. Vera Pavlova makes a good addition to the United Nations of Poetry representing Russia. For Poland, Eugeniusz Tkaczszyn-Dycki might make a good contribution. And last, but not least, add Greek poet Dimitris Varos to the list of poetry dignitaries. One thing that is unique to the United Nations of Poetry is the inclusion of poets from America representing the indigenous peoples.

Why is this important? I think C. S. Lewis wrote that literature “irrigates the deserts that our lives.” Along that line of thinking, to know and understand the inner life of a nation or culture is to explore the fertile literature of their poets and writers. Film tends to present caricatures and stereotypes of Germans, Russians and Americans, but literature plumbs the depth of cultural nuances. For example, you might miss the significance of the shamrock and the lily in a film about two brothers in North Ireland. In a novel, the weight of those two images will elucidate the drama between the two siblings, and a reader will come to realize that the tensions between two brothers are often the same between nations.

Literary Reading at Posana Café

Later this week, a literary reading featuring Catherine Reid and Valerie Neiman. February 18, 2012, at Posana Cafe, at 7:30 p.m.

Catherine Reid is the author of COYOTE: SEEKING THE HUNTER IN OUR MIDST, as well as essays in such journals as GEORGIA REVIEW, MASSACHUSETTS REVIEW, FOURTH GENRE, and BELLEVUE LITERARY REVIEW. Currently, she directs the undergraduate creative writing program at Warren Wilson College, where she also teaches creative nonfiction and environmental writing.

Jane Alison calls  Valerie Nieman‘s third novel, Blood Clay “both a tense, plot-driven story about complicated issues of race and guilt, and a meditation on solitude, history, and ways of living.”

A former newspaper reporter, Nieman is also the author of a collection of short stories, Fidelities, and a poetry collection,Wake Wake Wake. She teaches at the John C. Campbell Folk School and serves as poetry editor of Prime Number magazine.

From an email from Mark Prudowsky and Katherine Soniat

Juniper Bends Literary Reading

This week the Juniper Bends reading series continues this Friday, February 10th, at 7:00 p.m. at Downtown Books and News. The event features readings by: Kate Zambreno, Katherine Soniat, Jesse Rice-Evans and Adam Jernigan. Visit the Facebook event page for more details. (link)