Sunday March 20, 2016 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM EDT
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Institute of Policy Studies Conference Room 
1301 Connecticut Ave NW​
Washington, DC 20036

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Split This Rock 
Split This Rock 

Found in Translation: A Workshop with Sholeh Wolpé 

Words are only music in a language you don’t understand. Meaning changes when you dont know the culture from which a poem comes from. We often hear the phrase Lost in Translation” because it is easy to fail a poem, its music and meaning in the act of moving it from one language and culture to another. Hence, a good translation is often a re-creation. But what if we took a poem in its original form and let it inspire us? Take us to a place we might otherwise never go? 

In this workshop we will examine a beautiful and musical poem by the iconic 20th Century Iranian poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. You will listen to a recording of her reading (in Persian) and follow the poem in transliteration along with its word-by-word translation. You will then be asked to write a creative translation based on your take on where the poem carries you. How does your world intersect with Forughs? Can you mimic the music or cadence of her poem? 

Preregistration is required for this event. The registration fee is $20.

About Sholeh Wolpé
Sholeh Wolpé is a poet and playwright. She is the recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize. Wolpé’s nine books include, Keeping Time With Blue HyacinthsRooftops of Tehran, Sin—Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad, and The Forbidden: Poems from Iran and Its Exiles. Wolpé’s modern translation of Conference of the Birds by the 12th century Iranian mystic poet, Attarwill be released by W.W. Norton in 2017. A collection of her poems translated into Spanish will be published both in Spain and Mexico in 2016.

About Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 is a book arts and cultural festival organized for January through March 2016, throughout the Washington, D.C. area. Exhibits, programs, and events will commemorate the 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s historic bookselling street, and celebrate the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, to stand in solidarity with the people of Iraq, who have endured so much; and with people at home and abroad who are unable to make their voices heard. Book sellers, who survived the bombing, rebuilt their stores and are once again in business. They sell works by Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Jews, children's books, and progressive publications from around the world. 

The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project began as a call from San Francisco poet Beau Beausoleil in 2007 for writers, and it quickly moved on to incorporate artists, artist books and printmakers all who are responding to bear witness to a tragic loss of a center of literacy and humanity in Iraq. Al-Mutanabbi Street was a street of booksellers, printers, and readers, a street where people still felt “safe” among all the words and books. This is the project’s starting point: where language, thought, and reality reside; where memory, ideas, and even dreams wait patiently in their black ink. 

Project Partners:
George Mason University’s School of Art and George Mason University Libraries, Split This Rock, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, McLean Project for the Arts, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at The George Washington University, Busboys and Poets, Georgetown University, Cultural DC, Smithsonian Libraries, Brentwood Arts Exchange, Northern Virginia Community College, George Mason University Student Media and Fourth Estate Newspaper. 

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 is made possible in part by grants from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. Additional support received from the College of Visual and Performing Arts at George Mason University. Busboys and Poets is also a major sponsor. The Jerusalem Fund is a co-sponsor of our translation workshops.

To learn more, visit the festival website