Tricounty News

Poets Ravi Shankar and Tina Chang to give reading at CSB

Poets Ravi Shankar and Tina Chang will read selections from their latest work, Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at room 204B, Gorecki Dining and Conference Center, College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph. The presentation, sponsored by the Literary Arts Institute at CSB, is free and open to the public. Shankar, Chang and Nathalie Handal edited the book, which is a compilation of hundreds of poets from various parts of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, America and elsewhere. Seeking a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., the three editors-who are poets and teachers of Asian-American descent-hoped to "share an alternate vision of the new century in which words, not weapons, could define our civilization," according to a starred review in Publishers Weekly magazine. The collection includes over 400 unique voices. Some poets in the book, such as Bei Dao, Mahmoud Darwish, Nazim Hikmet, Taha Muhammad Ali, Michael Ondaatje and Li-Young Lee, are acclaimed worldwide and may help draw attention to other poets unknown in the U.S. Both Shankar and Chang are noted poets in their own right. Shankar is a poet-in-residence at Central Connecticut State University, and the founding editor of the online journal of the arts, Drunken Boat. His first book, Instrumentality, was published in 2004 by World Press, and his work has appeared in The Paris Review, Poets and Writers, Time Out New York and Gulf Coast. Chang received a master's degree in poetry from Columbia University, and is the author of the poetry collection, Half-Lit Houses, which was a finalist for the Asian American Literary Award. Her poems have appeared in American Poet, McSweeney's, Ploughshares, Quarterly West and Sonora Review, and she currently teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, N.Y., and Hunter College, New York City. The LAI was founded in 1997 to foster creative writing, publishing and interaction between students and writers. The LAI brings nationally recognized authors to the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University campuses, promotes literary events, holds conferences, supports publications and encourages the artistry of fine letterpress. With its local and national partners, such as Graywolf Press, the LAI is able to bring writers and their work together with readers on campus, in Minnesota and beyond. Shankar and Chang will also give a free reading at 7 p.m. Friday, April 17 at Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis. That event is sponsored by the Loft Literary Center.