Readings From Seven Nations

Political language, like poetry, is rarely proclaimed without purpose.

When President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, his words were unwavering: “Now, this isn't just me — this is for Obama, for Ronald Reagan, for the president. And this was done, very importantly, for security.”

The banned countries include: Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. 

Trump continued by stating: "It was done for the security of our nation, the security of our citizens, so that people come in who aren't going to do us harm. And that's why it was done.”

The aftermath of Trump’s executive order has brought individuals from all walks of life together, and a number of them are using poetry as a form of protest.

On Monday, April 3rd from 6:30 to 8:30pm, Duluth's Poet Laureate, Ellie Schoenfeld, will be hosting an open mic reading celebrating the poetry of writers from the countries impacted by Trump’s travel ban.  

As the Poet Laureate, Schoenfeld will be hosting five events. The Seven Nations Poets event is the first of five.

“Like so many great ideas, there is that quote, ‘good writers borrow, great writers steal.’ I completely stole this—I did ask permission if it was okay—from some folks over in Eau Claire, Wisconsin who did this. I thought that it was completely brilliant,” Schoenfeld said.

The event will take place at the Kathryn A. Martin Library's 4th floor Rotunda. It is free and open to the public.

“In this time, where there's so much talk about borders and closing off, poetry is completely the opposite of that. Poetry is about opening,” Schoenfeld said.

The Library and the UMD Department of English are co-hosting this event with the Duluth Poet Laureate Project in recognition of National Poetry Month.

“The library sees this as supporting first of all, poetry because April is National Poetry Month, and then just expanding our awareness of people who have similar experiences that we do,” Charlene Brown, from Access & Collection Services said.

“I think that poetry is something where people speak from their heart of hearts. You know, you maybe write poetry when you’re grief stricken, or when you’re filled with joy,” Brown said. “So, when you read other people’s poetry, you sort of walk in their shoes for a little while, and you can expand your empathy for those people because they are sharing their experience and you are receiving it,” she continued.

Both Schoenfeld and Brown are hoping for a good turn out. They have reached out to students, staff and members of the community. 

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