The first Poetry for Peace reading was held on January 28, 2003 at St. Lawrence University’s Richard F. Brush Art Gallery. The event was held to open the New York State Peace Conference, and was organized by Dr. Marina Llorente from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Poets, students, professors, staff, and members of the North Country community read poems in 13 different languages (English, Italian, French, Spanish, Navajo, Arabic, Hebrew, Swahili, and Vietnamese).
The theme was the need for peace in the world, every poem read acknowledged the unique revolutionary power of poetry. Due to the success of this first event, monthly Poetry for Peace readings open to the public have been held continuously since the spring semester of 2003. The readings have been hosted by the Brush Art Gallery, the former Pub, Herring-Cole, the Winston Room in the Student Center, and TAUNY on Main Street in Canton.
The readings have been hosted by the Brush Art Gallery, the former Pub, Herring-Cole, and the Winston Room in the Student Center. We follow the same format each month. When they arrive, readers fill out a sign-up sheet with their names, and the title of the poem they wish to read, and the name of the poet. When their name is called, they come forward and read their poem, offering a brief introduction if they choose to do so. The readings are First Year Cup-eligible events and have been always well attended by first year students. Each reading lasts one hour.
Since we encourage the reading of poems in foreign languages and their respective translations in English, participation of the students and professors from the department of Modern Languages and Literatures has been always a strong aspect of the readings. One of the most popular monthly readings is in April when the event is part of the celebration of Foreign Languages Week. Poems in all the languages taught at SLU are read by students in our Arabic, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swahili, Japanese and Chinese classes.
During the spring 2006 semester, students in the upper level Spanish seminar Poetry, Music and Ethics coordinated the poetry readings with the collaboration of students and professors from two other poetry classes, Techniques of Poetry from the English Dept. and Performing Poetry from the Speech & Theatre Dept. These performances included music and visual aids, powerfully enriching both the readings and the themes the students chose: social justice, love, war, poverty and the respect for the Earth.
The last couple of years the Poetry for Peace reading series have been successfully coordinated by Dr. Marina Llorente from the Modern Languages Department and Dr. Sarah Barber from the English Department who has been regularly inviting students in her poetry classes to participate in the readings.