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Professor's poetry heard around the world

Posted Apr. 17, 2012

Kent State University at Ashtabula professor Roger Craik likes to share his poetry with the world. He recently returned from a two-week trip to Al Ain University in the United Arab Emirates.

Roger Craik reads for the classThere he shared some of his poetry and expertise to the students of Al Ain. This was his second trip to this university. Craik already has a well-documented past for sharing his poetry and knowledge to that region of the world.

Professor Craik had an opportunity to share a few photos and answer some questions about his trip.

 What poems did you read?
I read only recent poems, poems I had never read in public before. I remember how the older Elvis Presley said when interviewed, "well, honey, there's only so many times you can sing Heartbreak Hotel..."

How was the translation received?
The translation was done by Dr. Saddik Gohar, of the AAU English department. The format was as follows: I would read the poem in English, and then Saddik would read the translation in Arabic. There were screens behind us with the English and Arabic versions. Roger Craik hands out diplomasIt was extraordinarily well received. There was at least 20 minutes of questions and answer after the reading. In fact, the university students are continuing to study my translated poems as part of their classes.

What else did you do while at the university?
I taught a poetry writing class over four sessions while I was there. No knowledge of poetry was expected in the students before taking the class. I then handed out diplomas for those who completed it.

Why is an experience like this important to you?
I think that travel broadens the mind not only in the going, but also in the returning. One views America with different eyes, and, of course, one hears different viewpoints.

Did the trip inspire any new poems?
Not yet, but one of the most memorable experiences was on the (12-hour) flight to Dubai. Roger Craik answers students questionsFor over two hours I could see the snow-covered mountains of eastern Turkey, and then, in sunset, all of the rivers, lakes, and ox-bow lakes in Iraq, illuminated gold by the setting sun. And flashing once only as the plane flew over. I might sometime get that into a poem, but I'm not sure now. I did read a poem I wrote while in the Emirates last year, about a copy of a Zane Grey novel I found in my host's house, in the expatriate housing complex.