This past weekend I was delighted to perform my poetry at the Walt Whitman Birthplace as part of the first event for the “Walking with Whitman” poetry series, hosted by George Wallace, 2011-2012 WWBA Writer-in-Residence.
First, George Wallace introduced Leslie Bai, adjunct professor of English at C.W. Post, director of Asian Student Services and assistant director of the Korea Center, who spoke to the challenges of the translation process, and gave an excellent presentation of translated classic Chinese poems on neglected and deserted women by such writers as Li Bai, Tu Fu, and Bai Juyi. Leslie Bai has translated these poems with the poet and professor John Digby. Along with Leslie’s presentation, dancer Alanna Chan performed a lovely, classic Chinese sword dance and ribbon dance.
Joan Digby gave a beautiful reading in the voice of one of these neglected women. It was wonderful to see the collaborative efforts of John and Joan, Leslie and Alanna, in giving these poets voice.
After a wine and cheese intermission, George Wallace introduced me, and I read multicultural poems from A Field Guide to the Muses, and some of my most recent unpublished work. It was a pleasure to read my poetry at such a great event. I believe translation is an art unto itself, and Leslie and John have done wonderful work on that front. Thanks to George Wallace for putting together an important event and inviting me to be part of it.