Southern Oregon University’s third annual International Poetry Night took place Mar. 1, showcasing powerful and controversial poetry and literature from around the world. The poems were read in the six languages offered at SOU: Chinese, German, Japanese, Spanish, French and American Sign Language, and then translated into English. Somali, Russian, and Arabic poems were added bonuses to the night. This year’s theme, “Poetry of Protest,” packed a powerful punch.
Maria Paz Moreno is a professor of Spanish literature at Cincinnati University and has taught courses at the graduate level for SOU at the Summer Language Institute for Spanish Teachers in Guanajuato, Mexico. Moreno translated her poem “Carta de amor a mi país” (Love letter to my country) to English especially for the poetry reading and allowed it to be read in public for the first time.
The opening stanza reads,
“To Baltasar Garzón
I come from a country
where the dead sleep on the curbsides.
Their sleep is long, unsettled,
because they remember everything and
are still waiting.
Silence is more painful to them than the
shot that killed them.”
Anne Connor, Associate Professor of Foreign Languages, discovered the poem and requested permission to present the very political piece.
“Her poem talks about coming from a country where justice has not been served and is dedicated to the Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón,” said Connor.
Garzón has recently been in the headlines because of a series of court cases against him. The most recent conviction for using illegal wiretapping barred him from practicing law and stripped him of the title of judge for eleven years. He has also been tried for crimes against humanity and abuses of power.
Another gripping poem was authored in Japanese by Hideko Tamura, a survivor of the attack on Hiroshima. The opening stanza is a chilling one,
“On one sunny day,
I lost my universe.”
The last stanza wraps up the poem and highlights the importance of the human connection that we all share.
“On one sunny day, began a search for Life and
the conditions that must be
On being a Human, anywhere, any time.”
If you would like more information or copies of the poems, please contact Sarah Conway at firstname.lastname@example.org.