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Poetry event celebrates Brockton’s cultural diversity

Jessica Nguyen, who writes in Vietnamese, will read her poetry at the “Voices of Diversity – Voices of America” event to be held at Brockton Public Library on Saturday, Nov. 6.Brockton Public Library

Celebrating what organizers call their city’s artistic revival, “Voices of Diversity — Voices of America” will present 10 poets representing different language groups in a public program at Brockton Public Library.

Brockton Poet Laureate Philip Hasouris said the free event celebrates the city’s “culture and diversity featuring poets reciting their original poetry in their native language, honoring their ancestors and translating it to English.” It will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Main Library, 304 Main St.

The poets range from teenagers to people in their 70s. The languages they will recite in are Arabic, Cantonese, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Irish Gaelic, Russian, American Sign Language, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The poets will follow their recitations by delivering their poems in English.

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The participating poets include students, professors, and other local poets. In addition to the readings, Bridgewater State University’s West African Drumming Ensemble “Khakatay” will perform.

Hasouris said the program reveals the city of Brockton as “the center of an artistic awakening. We are building a lighthouse, a beacon for our city to shine.”

“Come, hear and see the threads of a city weave a tapestry of our diversity, our journey to celebrate our heritage,” Hasouris wrote in his public invitation for the free event.

“Voices of Diversity — Voices of America” will be hosted by professor Mark Walsh, who teaches English literature and philosophy at Brockton’s Massasoit Community College. Walsh seconded Hasouris’s notion that Brockton is experiencing an artistic revival.

Jean-Dany Joachim, who writes in Haitian Creole, will read his poetry at the “Voices of Diversity – Voices of America” event at Brockton Public Library.Handout

“We have been working hard over the last few years to combine our efforts and create events and happenings that bring the citizens of Brockton together to celebrate the love of language and the city’s vibrant and diverse artistic communities,” Walsh said.

Noting an “outpouring of support” for the recent selection of Hasouris as the city’s poet laureate, Walsh called Voices of Diversity a “next step” in deepening connections among the city’s communities.

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“It’s been great,” he said, “to see momentum gathering.”

Voices of Diversity will begin with remarks from Hasouris, Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan, and the city’s library director, Paul Engle.

After the first five readings, Khakatay will perform traditional rhythms used for rituals and celebrations drawn from the heritage repertoire of the West African countries of Guinea, Senegal, Mali, and Côte d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast). The Bridgewater State University ensemble is directed by Jeremy Banchiere.

Tom Daley, whose poetry has appeared in many literary reviews, will begin the readings with his poems written in Irish Gaelic.

Christina Liu, a faculty member at Boston Architectural College whose parents escaped China’s Cultural Revolution, writes in Cantonese.

Zahara Swansan, a professor of Arabic and English as a Second Language at Massasoit Community College, will read from work influenced by Arab culture and the Lebanese Civil War.

Philip Nikolayev is a Russian-American bilingual poet and polyglot who translates poetry from many languages, including Russian, French, Hindi, Urdu, and Sanskrit.

Jean-Dany Joachim writes in Haitian Creole and teaches at Bunker Hill Community College.

Following the drum music interlude, Soteris Constantinou, a student of the Marie Philip High School for the Deaf in Framingham, will sign her poems in American Sign Language.

Adelene Fistedis Ellenberg, the daughter of a Greek immigrant, will read poems written in Greek.

Jessica Tran Nguyen will read her poems written in Vietnamese.

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Ally Brioso, the host of the Brockton Library Poetry Series, draws on her background in the Latino countries of El Salvador and the Dominican Republic and will read in Spanish.

The final reader, Joseph Policape, a writer, minister, and counselor who was born in Haiti, will read his poetry in French.

Hasouris summed up the event’s meaning as “a reawakening to connect with our heritage, grandparents, fathers, mothers’ language.” The “Diverse Voices” program, he said, “will celebrate our diversity, trumpet our ethnicity, and rejoice in being American.”

Robert Knox can be contacted at rc.knox2@gmail.com.