April 12, 2016

Friday, October 8, 2010

Poetry Friday: Dodge Festival

This Poetry Friday, I'm driving up to the 13th Biennial Dodge Poetry Festival. It's my tenth visit to the event.

I attended the very first Dodge Festival in 1996, as a high school senior. Galway Kinnell reading in a church-- the early morning light and early fall cold -- filled me up. I also heard Sonia Sanchez read and wore a black cape like hers for months afterwards.

Even though the festival is changing venues -- moving from rural northwestern NJ to the city of Newark -- some things are not changing. The Dodge program continues to invite nationally recognized voices like Billy Collins and Kay Ryan, as well as international poets who are less familiar to American readers.

Dodge has introduced me to poets Taha Muhammad Ali and Ko Un. I love hearing the poets read in their native tongue, followed by the translation in English.

My goal today and tomorrow is to go hear poets who are new to me. On my must-see list is Iraqi-American poet Dunya Mikhail. Here is her poem, "The War Works Hard," a powerfully ironic ode to war.

The War Works Hard

by Dunya Mikhail
translated by Elizabeth Winslow

How magnificent the war is!
How eager
and efficient!
Early in the morning
it wakes up the sirens
and dispatches ambulances
to various places
swings corpses through the air
rolls stretchers to the wounded
summons rain
from the eyes of mothers
digs into the earth
dislodging many things
from under the ruins...
Some are lifeless and glistening
others are pale and still throbbing...
It produces the most questions
in the minds of children
entertains the gods
by shooting fireworks and missiles
into the sky

Read the rest of the poem at The Academy of American Poets. Or you can listen to Mikhail read the poem in English at NPR.

Dodge is going to livestream some of the events. Visit their website to find out how to attend the festival from home!

Thanks to Carol at Carol's Corner for hosting the Poetry Friday round up today. Wander over there for more poetry posts. I apologize in advance for not visiting and commenting today -- but I'll make it up to you with some Dodge-related posts when I return.


Amy L V said...

What a devastating poem. What truth. Safe and good travels to you today - I hope that your festival is wonderful. A.

Tabatha said...

That poem is a keeper, Laura. Have a great time at Dodge. I will check out their web site.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

That poem by Mikhail is heartbreaking. Thanks so much for sharing it. I am envious of you being there! It is one of my dreams to make it there and hear new and old poets live. I'll be watching the streaming! Enjoy yourself for all of us.

Mary Lee said...

Yes, very ironic indeed. Can't wait to hear more about the festival!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Tabatha! It was a thrill to hear her read the poem today. She read another one I liked using the metaphor of geometry for the complications of parent/child relationships.

Author Amok said...

It was a great festival. Different vibe in Newark. Andromeda -- I hope you make it there someday. If it stays in Newark, it's easy to take a train there from most places.

My favorite readings were Dorianne Laux and Kay Ryan. Both extremely personable and personal, open about their writing processes. Loved it!