April 25, 2009
"World Poetry Day": Comparative Literature’s contribution to Rutgers Day on 4/25 was a huge success. It started at 1pm, and went on in two installments for an hour-and-a half. People strolled by and stayed to hear poetry read on a makeshift stage at the center of a group of tables. They sat in the heat, or stood on the periphery, with their bikes, strollers, drinks, plants, and listened to verse in original languages followed by translation. It was very moving. Global this and global that, but the real pulse of global connection is in literature and in the sounds of languages one can't understand, followed by a translation that one craves but knows is inadequate. Some of our readers made the translation a lovely teaching moment.
Our readers were faculty, graduate students, undergrads, mostly from Comp Lit but also English, Spanish and Portuguese, and Jewish Studies. Elin acted as impromptu m.c., gathering people to listen to poetry in Dutch (Maria), Russian (Sergey), Quechua (Neil), Romanian (Monica). French (Sandie, Elin), Russian (Sergey), Italian in trans (Lauren), Portuguese (César), Spanish (Ben, Yolanda, Estela Lamat, Candice Amich, undergrad Ronald Green), Hebrew and Yiddish (undergrads Leah Weiss, Shir Amar and Emily Bernstein), and Sinhalese (Nimanthi Rajasingham) and original poems by many (Estela, Lauren, Sergey, Candice, Michael Leong, and Ronald). With a minute’s rehearsal and wearing caps, Sandie and Elin, were Didi and Gogo, performing a poetic "canter" in French, then English from Waiting For Godot.
It was a great Comp Lit and multiple program team effort. We are indebted to César for his vision, to Marilyn for super decor, and to Lauren for her connections with Penguin. Our table was covered by a striking monogrammed tablecloth that Marilyn spent literally hours and days specifying and ordering. We had free books to give away courtesy of Penguin, red and black balloons, baskets of free candies and chips and very popular red bag clips that say "Rutgers Comparative Literature." These were grabbed by the handsful (who knew?). Marilyn, Elin, César, and Jorge Marcone, handled the booth most of the morning.