D’Youville Hosts an Evening with Poets Olga Karman and Jorge Guitart
Buffalo, New York – October 04, 2017 – On September 19, a diverse audience that included students, faculty, alumni, and former D’Youville College President Sister Denise Roche gathered in Madonna Hall for an evening of poetry with Olga Karman and Jorge Guitart. Poetas: A Poetry Reading was presented by Friends Of Hispanic Arts and co-sponsored by D’Youville’s Liberal Arts Department and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The event coincided with the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15.
Both Karman and Guitart were born in Havana and left their homeland following the Cuban Revolution. Although their styles are distinct, their poetry evokes a shared experience of being an immigrant and an intellectual in the United States.
Guitart was the first to take the podium that evening. A master of satire and wordplay, he delighted the audience by reading a blend of old and new poems, including selections from Foreigner's Notebook (1993) and The Empress of Frozen Custard & Ninety-Nine Other Poems (2009). Karman read several short poems, including “Crossing Brooklyn Bridge,” whose final lines offered a terse and emotional tribute to the Statue of Liberty. She also shared excerpts from her colorful memoir, Scatter My Ashes Over Havana (2006). Disillusioned with Fidel Castro, Karman left Cuba when she was 20. Four decades later, after earning her doctorate from Harvard and establishing her career as a writer and educator, she used her poet’s voice to turn her dramatic life story into a book of lyrical prose.
Since 1973, Guitart has been a professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University at Buffalo, where he teaches courses in Spanish and applied linguistics. Karman, now retired from the classroom, was a fixture on the D’Youville campus for more than 25 years. In addition to teaching from 1980 to 2007, she served as the College’s community affairs liaison. Following the Poetas reading in Madonna Hall, the former D’Youville professor remarked, “It was good to be home.”
Poetas: A Poetry Reading is one of several events being presented this fall by Friends of Hispanic Arts (FOHA), a local not-for-profit organization dedicated to enriching students and communities in the vibrant music, dance, and history of Hispanic cultures. To learn about two upcoming events in November, visit FOHA’s Facebook page.
Western New Yorkers will have another chance to hear Jorge Guitart and Olga Karman read their poetry on Friday, October 13, when the duo will appear at the Burchfield Penney Art Center as part of an evening of Cuban cinema and culture.
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