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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Poetry across cultures

Hedy Habra (left) and Dasha Nisula
Courtesy of the authors
Hedy Habra and Dasha Nisula
Hedy Habra (left) and Dasha Nisula

Or Did You Ever See the Other Side? is Hedy Habra’s fourth poetry collection. Her poems focus on the feminine and are inspired by contemporary and surrealist women artists from different ethnic and national backgrounds. Dasha Nisula is the author of four books of poetry, mostly translations from Slavic languages. She’s a member of the American Literary Translation Association, and her new book is Rhythm and Free Verse Across the Slavic Belt.

A conversation with Hedy Habra and Dasha Nisula

Habra talks about her newest poetry collection: “All the poems are inspired by works of art. Music, installations, and sculptures, but mostly paintings. Most of the artists were women. Although there is a range of different concerns, there are many feminine things throughout. All the titles are questions, and they all start with ‘Or’ …”

Front covers of the books by Hedy Habra and Dasha Nisula
Front covers of the books by Hedy Habra and Dasha Nisula

Nisula’s poetry collection is not her own poetry, but a collection of translations. She says, “The focus is on American influence in Eastern Europe.” Influences include the free verse of Walt Whitman and jazz music by African Americans. Nisula does write her own poetry, but she has concentrated more on bringing the work of European artists to an American audience.

Habra and Nisula will read at Kazoo Books, 2413 Parkview Avenue in Kalamazoo, at 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 23.

“We’ve been good friends and have known each other for decades at Western Michigan University,” Habra says about the duo reading together. Both poets have long taught languages and literature at WMU.

Hedy Habra is of Lebanese heritage but was born and raised in Heliopolis, Egypt. She has lived in both countries and is a poet, artist, and essayist. Dasha Nisula’s roots lie in Croatia. She has published in the United States and abroad since 1989, covering Slavic literature from the Medieval period to the end of the twentieth century.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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