Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tidbits from a Poetry Reading at the Lannan Center: Meena Alexander and Ishion Hutchinson

Georgetown University’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice hosts a wide range of poets and events. Last week I heard Meena Alexander and Ishion Hutchinson read poetry.

Here are a few highlights from the question and answer period:

In response to a question about living in the US, away from his native Jamaica, Hutchinson said that being here gives him the “necessary distance” to understand his home and be riskier in his writing. While he may take the risk to be nostalgic, he added that it’s ok to be a bit dreamy.  He rightly asked, “poets really are dreamy, right?”

About first coming to the US from India, Alexander noted that the US is “built on layers of migration and one could be a part of that. At the same time, it was hard to encounter the idea of race.”

Regarding writing in another language, Hutchinson said that when something is untranslatable, he looks for “sound and texture. Even if a word means what it should, you look for accidents of sound.”

And my favorite quote of the evening, Alexander described poetry as a “dance with the unsayable.”

Click on the Lannan Center’s calendar for upcoming events.


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