Poetry Reading Comments on War in Iraq

Posted: March 29, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Tomorrow, the English Department’s Creative Writing Program presents its second “Poetry in a Time of War,” a reading marking the two-year anniversary of the war in Iraq. The first event was held in conjunction with readings all over the country in opposition to the war. This year, a diverse group of poets, including two of George Mason’s faculty, will share their experiences through the language of poetry. The readings begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Johnson Center Cinema on the Fairfax Campus.

Kakahama Askary grew up in Northern Iraq. A certified Imam, or Muslim leader, from Al-Azhar University, he went on to obtain degrees in law, political science, and international relations from the Institute of Arab Researchers and Studies in Cairo, Egypt. Now a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at James Madison University, Askary has focused his career and life on working for justice and peace. He will read Iraqi poems in Arabic, while his wife, Christi Kramer, will read the English translation.

Kramer, who is a graduate of the Mason MFA program in poetry, will also read from her own work, an ethnography in poetry of Iraqi Kurds exiled and living as refugees in Harrisonburg, Va. She believes that the stories we tell are who we are, and in the telling, listening, and retelling, we may find a grace for healing and remembrance, which moves to peace.

Susan Tichy teaches in the graduate writing program at Mason, and her poems have been widely published in the United States and Britain. Known for strong sensuality as well as a political edge, her poems have been recognized with awards from the National Poetry Series and the National Endowment for the Arts. An antiwar activist in the Vietnam era and combat veteran widow, Tichy has recently published her third collection of poems on Vietnam, titled Bone Pagoda.

Rei Berroa will read poems in English and Spanish at the event. Originally from the Dominican Republic, he has been teaching Spanish literature at Mason for 21 years, and has written 10 books of poems and literary criticism. Currently faculty advisor to Mason’s Hispanic Culture Review, he is organizer of the annual Poetry Marathon in Arlington, Va., a two-day festival featuring Spanish-speaking poets.

E. Ethelbert Miller is the chairman of the board for the Institute for Policy Studies and director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University. His memoir, Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer, was chosen by the Washington, D.C., Public Library for its “One Book/One City” program in 2003. Miller has recently published a collection of poems titled How We Sleep on the Nights We Don’t Make Love.

A reception with a question-and-answer session follows the readings. For more information, contact Melissa Tuckey at 703-503-4543.

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