Feb 10, 2015 by Haley Patterson
On February 10, the Dahlonega campus of UNG hosted its first International Poetry Reading in the Library’s Special Collections Room 382. This event was a nice deviation from the norm, a twist on the classic open mike night. Some readers presented their own poetry, while others read their favorites. There were a total of six languages represented at the event- Russian, French, Arabic, Albanian, Chinese, and, of course, English. The night served as a reminder of the inherent beauty and uniqueness of all languages. While the linguistic differences were evident, they did not impede the general sentiment of the night or hinder the audience’s comprehension, as the speakers revealed the tone and theme of their poem in English prior to its recitation. Even without the benefit of such an explanation, the audience was well aware of the prevailing themes of the poems as being those endemic to human nature, unchangeable by the vehicle of language- curiosity, mortality, friendship, etc.
The speakers ranged in linguistic expertise, from students of French 1001 to professors from UNG with a Ph.D. in their respective fields. It was thrilling to hear the Langston Hughes poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” so relevant in UNG’s celebration of Black History month. The poem, one of the more familiar shared at the event, states, “I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.” Another poem, Arabic, related the modern Egyptian crisis and political turmoil. Some might ask why it benefits anyone to listen to words which they cannot comprehend, but surely it is evident that instances such as these remind us of the truly interconnected world, and help us to appreciate the literature that can serve to unite it further. As the last piece, a Chinese proverb, so aptly states, “You have no reason to ask me these things.” The event was counted a success by all, and plans are being made for another International Poetry Night soon. I highly recommend going, not only to language majors, but to all students and faculty who appreciate world literature.