MCC La Guagua Community Poetry Festival Voices and Translations on WCAP

Right now we wanna welcome in
our first guests this morning. And they are here to talk
about a poetry festival that’s taking place here
in the Mill City of Lowell. And we welcome in from Middlesex Community
College our good friend, David Kalivas. Good morning, David. How are you, sir?>>Good morning.
And how are you doing?>>I am doing fantastic. Pull that microphone nice and
tight to you, if you could. You too, as well.>>Okay, there we go, good morning.>>Willy Ramirez is here as well. Hi Willy, how are you, sir?>>Hi, good morning.>>Good to have both of
you here this morning. How are things?>>Great, couldn’t be better. It’s always a pleasure to come on and
chitchat with you, Ted.>>Yeah, you and I haven’t touched base in
a while, where have they been hiding you? They’re actually making you work?>>Well, they try.>>Now, if Middlesex bumps a professor
from the radio appearances, do you guys throw up and protest? Throw up your hands in protest or
do you behave->>I never bumped, I come back whenever I want to.>>[LAUGH] Yes, you most certainly are. Willy, how long have you been
with Middlesex Community College?>>I have been with Middlesex for
four years now. First three year as a program advisor. And now as a full-time faculty member.>>A full and what do you teach?>>I teach English.>>You’re an English teacher, David. You’re a history teacher,
if I remember, right?>>So I teach history, yes. I teach world history, in fact and I also I’m Director of
the Commonwealth Honors Program. And so I should put a plug in for
the Commonwealth Honors Program.>>Please do [LAUGH].>>Anyone wants to send their students,
their children, their nieces, nephews, grandchildren to Middlesex get the first
two years of a baccalaureate experience in our honor’s program then off
they go to the four-year college or university for
just a mere 12K for two years. Isn’t that great? And a quality program, but we’re here today to talk about
our new humanity center.>>Yeah,
let’s talk a little bit about that. What’s the deal with that?>>So we have community partners that we
have come together with in conjunction with the grants from
the National Endowment for the Humanities and the MaSH Humanities
out in the Western Mass. And we have put together this humanity
center that is our attempt to further along our journey in
the community here in Lowell. And to engage with community members on
a variety of levels from the National Park to the variety of ethnic organizations,
social organizations, cultural organizations to develop
humanity programs between the college and these community groups. And to really try and
create a rich opportunity for members of the City of Lowell and greater
Lowell of course, but for people in Lowell to come together in the community at our
Lowell campus around whether it’s literary programs, poetry programs, documentaries,
a host of things, but to really develop a pubic outreach center and
that’s what this new humanity center is.>>When was it formed?>>So, brand new. It’s still being formed as we speak.>>[LAUGH] So
this is kinda your kickoff event, right?>>This is our launching event. So we’re calling in Willy. We’ll talk more about that. It’s the La Guagua community,
our festival, poetry festival, excuse me. And that’ll be on April 21st and
22nd at our Lowell Federal Building. The Bradford Morse Federal Building
right there on Merrimack Street across from our city building. And it really is designed as
a kickoff to get the word out about our new public humanity center. We’re going to have
a reception on Friday night. The public is welcome as well as
a full day of activities on Saturday. And this is really an opportunity for us to engage around a topic most
people think, wow, a poetry festival. What’s that all about?>>Mm-hm.>>And really, it is an essential part. As you know, all of our literature started
this poetry thousands of years ago and continues today. And so it’s an opportunity for
community expression. And I think Willy maybe you can talk
a bit more about what that means.>>Yeah, and I wanted to bring you in,
Willy because as David said, poetry goes back to our day,
the ancient Greeks, right?>>Yeah. There you go.
>>Our early ancestors. But it seems to be kind of an art
that has really changed and evolved a little bit or
a lot, I should say. Some folks will tell you that the only
real poets today are musicians or rappers. Talk a little bit about poetry with
young folks in your generation.>>I think poetry it’s still a living art. Even though we tend to say well, poetry is
dead because nobody likes poetry nowadays. But I don’t think this
is totally accurate. I think there is a living community
of poets who are willing to share their works. And also talk about how
they view society from their poetic perspective of the world. So I think this is a great event that,
that is meaningful for a lot of people.>>Do you write poetry?>>I do write poetry.>>Okay, cuz you said the way a poet
has a unique perspective on the world. Talk a little bit about that cuz you
poets do kinda look at the world differently from mathematicians or
other like specialty fields.>>Well, if you think about where
the poet comes from when he or she writes poetry, I think,
we view the world. We have a cultural perspective and
a social perspective about the world. And I think we use poetry as a medium
to express those feelings and emotions that we get from the world. So I think it’s a way of
expressing our political, social, and cultural views that we experience.>>When I studied poetry
in my English classes and Literature classes, it was always
poets from an era long gone by. Are there poets today? Are there folks who are writing
poetry today that 100 years from now, 200 years from now,
maybe 1,000 years from now, people are gonna be learning
about in classrooms?>>I think we are. And I think this festival
is a great example of that. We are hosting 22 poets from
different parts of the world. And already some of these poets even
though they’re relatively young poets, they are well-known. And I think these are strong emerging
poets that we’re gonna be reading for a long time.>>It’s 7:24 here on 980 WCAP we’re
chatting with David Kalivas and Willy Ramirez from
Middlesex Community College. They’re here to talk about
MCC’s new humanity center, which is hosting La Guagua Community
Poetry Festival: Voices in Translation. A unique two-day event, Friday,
Saturday, April 21st and 22nd at Middlesex Community College’s
Federal Building on the Lowell campus. There’s actually a reception honoring-
>>Rhina, poet and translator. Rhina Espaillat.>>She’s gonna be here in Lowell for
this event?>>We’re opening Friday night,
5 PM to 7:30 PM. And what we’re gonna do in that
reception is honor the life and work of Rhina Espaillat,
which is a local writer and that they will be delivering a speech
on the importance of translation. Which is another important topic and
activity that we should continue.>>So, this is gonna be a really
unique event in that sense. So we’re going to have many of the poems
read in the language of the poet. And then read in English. And then we’re gonna take all of these and we’re publishing it with Loom Press,
the local press. An anthology of all the poems in both
English and in hence, voices and translation. So we’re gonna hear the voices of
the poets both in their languages and in English. And in that sense it’s really
a multicultural international flavor, if you would. And we’re really hoping to engage
our many communities along this way.>>She’s probably a very fascinating
person to talk to because, as you said, she kinda does poetry in English and
in Spanish. And I bet it’s completely different. And I’m just gonna, in my experience,
being able to speak Greek. And we did a show a couple weeks ago
about some of my dad’s famous sayings.>>Okay.
>>And they don’t translate the same in English. And I imagine poetry, probably the same. The way you write something or
the way words come together to create a flow in poetry,
you translate it to another language, you might have a whole different meaning,
right?>>That’s correct. Rhina Espaillat,
who is the person we’re honoring, says, the first thing everyone should know about
translation is that it is impossible.>>[LAUGH]
>>It is only an attempt to translate from one language to another but
we do our best and we should. Yeah, and to get the rhymes
is almost impossible, right?>>Yes, yes. Well, according to her, what we want
to keep from the original is the music. The structure, it changes. The lines change. Some of the sentence structure,
the verse structure changes. But what we want to keep
is the music of the poem.>>Makes sense, indeed. All right, so we have a kickoff reception
honoring Rhina on Friday night. That’s 5 PM, correct?>>Yes, correct.>>Correct.
>>And then the poetry festival itself, the La Guagua Poetry Festival
is all day Saturday?>>9 to roughly-
>>8:30 to 4:30. 8:30 to 9 we’ll have
a little breakfast and->>Then the proceedings begin at 9, 9 o’clock.>>Okay.
So you’ll have to forgive me, I took six years of Spanish,
four in high school, two in college.>>What is La Guagua?>>What is La Guagua? I have to end the interview
with that question there.>>Good, good. I’m glad that you are giving me
the opportunity to talk a little bit about La Guagua. As David said, we’re using this festival
to inaugurate the public humanity center. And now, what is La Guagua? La Guagua is-
>>He says it so much nicer than you and I do, Ted, right?>>Of course, he does. Yeah, absolutely.>>La Guagua.
>>La Guagua. Yeah, absolutely.>>La Guagua, it’s a reading group that emerges from
Middlesex in a group of students. Mostly first generation students
who were excited about learning, about in American literature. So the purpose of the group
is to promote literature and the culture literature of Latin America. And we use La Guagua, which means
a school bus in English as a symbol to invite people to come and
travel the world through literature.>>That’s clever.>>Yes.>>So La Guagua is a school bus.>>It’s a school bus. And the idea is that, let’s all get on this bus and
travel the world through literature. Even though we focus on
Spanish literature and our meetings are in Spanish,
we do explore works from different cultures such as Lolita,
which is a novel, Blindness which is another
novel from a Portuguese writer. Then number of other writers
that are not from Latin America.>>All right, well, Willy Ramirez,
thank you so much for taking the time to join us. It was a pleasure to meet you. And Dave Kalivas, it was a pleasure
to see you again, my friend.>>It’s nice to see you too and good luck
to all of us, and to your listeners, come on to the La Guagua Community
Poetry Festival on April 21st and 22nd. Join us and hopefully join us as we
do more public humanities programs. And remember, in the words of Constantine
Cavafy, a Greek poet to my liking, Middlesex is on a new journey with
this center and this poetry festival. So, come and join us. Thank you, Ted.

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