Thursday, September 22, 2011

Civility & poetry & Wyoming

Civility Matters!

So does poetry.

Naomi Shihab Nye is "surprised by how kind people are when reciting and listening to poetry." She specifically is referring to secondary students, such as the ones she taught today at Casper's Star Lane Academy. "During nearly 40 years of working with kids, sometimes in very rough situations, I've never seen kids bully each other over their words."

Naomi Nye was in Casper Thursday night during the last stop on her "Civility Matters: Potlucks and Poetry" tour sponsored by the Wyoming Humanities Council. "Civility Matters" is a program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its goal is to "creatively engages the public in considering the meaning of civility, both in the context of our national democratic commitment to freedom of expression and in the context of an increasingly global world."

The award-winning Palestinian-American poet started her tour in Jackson and then moved on to Riverton for a potluck at the Native American Center at CWC. At each stop, people are invited to bring picnic dinners and enjoy an evening with Nye, who describes herself as a "wandering poet." Nye, the daughter of a Palestinian father and American mother, has appeared on NPR's A Prairie Home Companion and several times with Bill Moyers on his PBS poetry specials. 

Writing of all types is just one of the creative disciplines used to nurture public dialogue. "Writing is a grass-roots effort -- it belongs to everyone," Nye said.

Throw some food into the mix -- that adds to the community atmosphere.

Nye liked how her Wyoming hosts made her feel so much at home by putting food and poetry together. That's what you'd see in the Middle East," she said. Inhibitions are eased and pretty soon people are talking to each other.

"Civility is a matter of interest in another person and another person's perspective," she said.

Thursday night's event with Nye marked the beginning of the Casper College Literary Conference, which continues through Saturday. FMI:

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