Poems2Go is celebrating National Poetry Month internationally. P2G has found a home away from home at Jindal Global University in Sonipat, India, just outside of Delhi. Above are pictures of me with students of Professor Nandini Dhar at a talk discussing Literary Citizenship: Promoting Poetry in the Public Sphere. Also there’s me with Professor Dhar, and me with Sonam Tsering, a Tibetan student we had the pleasure of meeting with and learning his story; how he came to India, inspiring me to write my very first ghazal as tribute to studying in India. The ghazal originated outside of Arabia, matured in Persia, but was adopted and adored by India, in particular the Urdu poets.
When my husband, Michael, received notice that he would be teaching at JGU as a Fullbright/Nehru Scholar we were excited for the opportunity of travelling to another country. Excited, but admittedly (speaking for myself) also a little apprehensive. India is very far from home. Knowing Michael would be busy with his teaching I had to consider how I would spend my time, except it wasn’t too hard to consider. Given one month of free time and space to create is a gift. Writers relish this sort of freedom. I was lucky, but I didn’t realize how lucky until I started to feel a connection here, and to feel that India doesn’t feel so far away anymore.
Before coming to JGU, I searched through their English faculty list and course schedule. I was surprised to recognize Dr. Nandini Dhar’s name. I had read her poetry. She studied, taught, and has been published in the U.S.. When I was a reader for Sugar House Review, I read her submission. I remember the poems she submitted. For me, this was one of those miraculous “it’s a small world” moments. I contacted Prof. Dhar, and we decided we’d meet for chai when I arrived and go from there. These last few weeks, I’ve sat in on two of her comparative literature classes, Gender Conflicts, and Culinary Fiction. Through literature and through listening to the students, I learned a great deal more about Indian culture than I ever could have in a tourist’s travel book. When a student would say hello to me on campus, I felt I belonged. And when several students showed up for my discussion about Poems2Go and poetry in the public sphere, I was happy to share my knowledge, and talk poetry. I’m grateful to Prof. Dhar for the opportunity, and to the students for engaging with me. These are bright, young individuals who have opportunities to make a difference in whatever is close to their hearts.
I’m thrilled that Poems2Go will now be distributed at JGU. It really is a small world, and poetry gives us the forum to build empathy, to bridge the gaps of understanding between people of all backgrounds.