From Elsewhere: Poetry and National Borders

The second in a series of seven podcasts on the theme of “Poetry and Politics” featuring recordings of conversations with poets moderated by Institute Director Irena Grudsinska Gross at Boston University between 2004 and 2007. This podcast is a recording of an April 2005 reading and conversation with Polish poet Piotr Sommer and American poet Rosanna Warren. Sommer is also a translator of contemporary English-language poetry (Frank O’Hara, Charles Reznikoff, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Derek Mahon, Seamus Heaney) into Polish. He reads poems from Continued, his (then) new book of poetry in English translation. Rosanna Warren is Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She reads some of her newer poems as well as a selection from her book Departure.

Warren acknowledges the need for a national myth to create a national literature –  yet she rebels against nationalism. She says there is “Another Republic” (referring to the anthology of European and Latin American poetry edited by Charles Simic and Mark Strand) where she longs to be a citizen, implying there is a way in which poetry, for all its embeddedness in culture, transcends national borders. Sommer adds that it transcends such categories as “classical” as well. He makes the point that English is a language without a nationality, so that his point may be particularly true of poetry in English.

Profile of Piotr Sommer at

Profile of Rosanna Warren at


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