Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by Refugees: 2018 Poetry that Goes Beyond Refugee/Citizen Binaries and Illuminates Exile as a Forced/Creative Space, is edited by Jehan Bseiso and Becky Thompson, and it features original and translated poetry by refugee artists, poets, and survivors, recent immigrants, as well as longtime exiles. The lecture will take place on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 7:00pm in Rockefeller Hall 200. From their first call for submissions at a café in Beirut to offering poetry workshops in refugee camps, Becky Thompson and her co-editor Jehan Bseiso sought a range of voices to avoid monolithic, one-dimensional representations of refugees. In this lecture, Becky will reflect on lessons learned from offering those poetry workshops in the camps, what working across languages requires, and how poet-activists need to stay loose in the knees as state policies change. Contributing poets Gbenga Adesina, Zeina Azzam, and Sholeh Wolpé, will also read from Making Mirrors, and they will reflect on the various meanings of displacement in their life and art. Mootacem Mhiri, lecturer in Arabic at Vassar, who translated two poems by expatriate Eritrean poet and novelist Abu Bakr Khaal in this border-crossing anthology, will host and participate in this poetry reading.
As the refugee crisis fades from the front page of newspapers, Making Mirrors comes as a plea against historical amnesia and inertia; this collection of poems is an antidote that reaches beyond despair to renewed action. Additionally, the poets and poems featured in the reading hail from diverse backgrounds linguistically and culturally. The expansive physical geography of their nationalities, stretching from the US to Africa (Nigeria and Eritrea), all the way to Asia (Iran), and the Middle East (Palestinian Diaspora), mirrors the complexity of the mental and emotional worlds that bring people together and inspire poetry readings.
Sponsored by the Africana Studies Program, the Dean of Faculty’s Office, the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education, the Engaged Pluralism Initiative, and the departments of English, Art, Film, French and Francophone Studies, German Studies, Italian, and Russian Studies.
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