Poetry Touches the Hearts of Everyone: A Report from “The Poetry of Many Tongues”

Last month Skyline College Library’s Third annual poetry reading in international languages began in the zoom chat with a flood of greetings by more than thirty participants in their native languages, setting the stage for an inspiring lineup of passionate readings by students and faculty lasting into the early evening. 

“Buenas tardes! | “Kumusta?! | “Oi, Boa tarde! | “Xin Chào! | “Naimbag a malem! | “Namaskar!”,Sziasztok! | “Guten Nachmittag! Ich freue mich hier zu sein! | “Ciao!, Guten Tag!| “Dober vecer! | “Mahalo!” | “Nyob zoo! | “Oi gente tudo bom? | “Ba’ax ka wa’alik | “Salu!” 

Joined by faculty from both Skyline and Cañada Colleges, Skyline and College of San Mateo students, encouraged by their English and language professors, also participated by reading original poems or works by poets they admired. Some of the readings included: 

  • World languages professor Luciana Castro read poems by her mother, the poet Abagail Castro, in Portuguese.
  • Skyline College librarian Mary Torres-Volken conveyed poet Pablo Neruda’s “La Muerta” dramatically in American sign language. 
  • Guest poet Nooshan Shekarabi was unable to join the virtual session but sent a recording of her own poem in Farsi titled “Love Over Fear.” Prof. Shekarabi is Professor of Political Science and chair of the Department of Political Science at Santiago Canyon College. 
  • Canada College ESOL professor and Mayan native Gerardo Pacheco Matus read his original poem, “How not to become a ghost.”
  • College of San Mateo student Daniel Abera read “A friend of my heart,” a poem he’d composed in his native Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia.
  • Alexandra Szabo, an international student from Hungary, read a poem in Hungarian by Attila Jozsef. 
  • Soon to be published poet/Skyline student Giti Abbasi read her original love poem in Farsi.
  • Skyline student Yesika Wong Sanchez read “Eternity”/”Eternidad” by Cuban poet Dulce María Loynaz y del Castillo.
  • Fulbright scholar Ryan Domingo read a poem by the Alex Stabag in Ilocano, one of the languages spoken in the Philippines. 
  • Biology faculty Simantini Karve and event host and librarian Pia Walawalkar read the poem “Kanna “ by Marathi poet Kusumagraj.
  • Pia Walawalkar and Chemistry faculty member Susanne Schubert read in German and English from poems by Franz Xaver Kappus and Rainer Maria Rilke.
  • Poet Aileen Cassinetto read an anaga poem about homeland and homecomings in Tagalog. 

Throughout the session, participants and listeners together enjoyed powerful, inspirational, passionate and sometimes very dark poetry on the themes of love, life, death and migration. It was clear from the session that poetry touches the hearts of everyone, transcending language barriers and bringing us together.

Thank you to our event hosts for once again actively and positively affirming the rich diversity of our college community through poetry. You can visit the Library’s Poetry Research Guide for help locating poems or exploring your passion for poetry.

Article by Jessica Silveer-Sharp

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