And it was at that age that poetry arrived in search of me

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I am glad that we at least are doing something for World Poetry Day. UNESCO UK does not seem to have done much to promote it, disappointingly.

We do, largely, have a rather anglo-centric view of poetry in this country, one that could perhaps be challenged on such a day. Our minds might be opened to, and by such poets as Pablo Neruda, Czeslaw Milosz, Wisława SzymborskaMahmoud Darwish, Yehuda Amichai, and so on.

These last are the only two poets in the above list not to have received a Nobel prize. One was Israeli, the other Palestinian, and both had their work appreciated by ‘the other side’ as it were. Here are extracts:

From Leaves of Olives by Mahmoud Darwish

 The six stanzas of the poem repeat the cry “Write down: I am an Arab”.

Write down
I am an Arab
And I work with comrades in a stone quarry
And my children are eight in number.
For them I hack out
a loaf of bread
a school exercise-book
from the rocks
rather than begging for alms
at your door
rather than making myself small
at your doorsteps.
Does this bother you?

Write down
I am an Arab…

This next extract is from Yehuda Amichai’s poem, Wildpeace, which was requested – by both sides - to be read, if memory serves, at the Olso Peace Accord ceremony.

And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation
To the next, as in a relay race
The baton never falls.

Let it come
like wildflowers,
suddenly, because the field
must have it: wildpeace

This evening, at our Marsden Write Out Loud night, I give a short talk about Neruda, whose line, quoted on our logo and on this heading, so accurately summarises what we are about at Write Out Loud: supporting those for whom poetry has arrived in search of them, to help it stay.

Write Out Loud has always had strong international inclinations. We spent a lot of time crowd-translating poems between French and English on one of our series of five years of Write Out Loud-organised poetry events in Bordeaux, and we worked with refugees and asylum-seekers in Bolton, with the help of  Nicky Burrows.


◄ Julian Stannard at Portsmouth's Tongues and Grooves

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 4th May 2012 19:26

The translation into English is one of the
challenges that face foreign poetry. Does it
"travel"? Is the plight of humanity and its
attitudes towards life really the same wherever
you may go in this world? I'm not sure and
for every Neruda there must be many whose
work seems disconnected with our own lives.
Even across the Channel (that close!), the mindset can appear from another world on occasion. And then in Italy there is the taste
for extravagant visual and verbal effect
that is at odds with our pared-down, often
reflective style.
But UK poetry has to benefit from any effort to
embrace its fellows and if you don't try,
you'll never know.

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Nichola Burrows

Wed 21st Mar 2012 21:16

.... And it found me. Hope you have an amazing night julian, i really wish i could be there. What we did with brass was astounding.... But it wasnt us really, we just gave people the tools to be able to express themselves. Poetry crosses the boundaries of culture and time.

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Freda Davis

Wed 21st Mar 2012 20:12

I hope the night goes well Julian

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