Next Wednesday, February 2, MoMA will present another iteration of Modern Poets, our long-running series of readings and performances in which poets and writers reflect upon modern and contemporary art and culture. This program is presented in conjunction with the exhibition On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century, which explores the transformation of drawing, the potential of mark making, and line and gesture through diverse mediums. Taking the concept of the political line as a point of departure, we have invited a group of international poets selected by Chilean-born poet Cecilia Vicuña—who will also read from her own collection of poems—to share their reflections on this extended notion, as it relates to them personally or to the world more universally.
Informed by a unique international perspective of the demarcations of the political line within their own lives, each poet will reflect on the limits and confrontations that this “line” imposes through the medium of language. After she published her second poetry book in 1995, Dunya Mikhail, the first contemporary Iraqi woman poet to be translated from Arabic into English, was forced into exile by the threat of Saddam Hussein’s regime. She writes candidly and directly in a manner of confronting this reality. Los Angeles–based poet, novelist, playwright, and visual artist Will Alexander will read two poems—one about the political condition of Albania and the other a sustained meditation on the nature of world art—from his book The Stratospheric Canticles. Albanian-born Luljeta Lleshanaku, who grew up under Enver Hoxha’s Stalinist dictatorship, explores issues of memory and her conflicted relationship with the political history of her country. Since she will read her poems in their original language, poet and author Henry Israeli, who has long worked with Lleshanaku, will translate them into English for the evening’s program.
Through the diverse voices of these international poets, Modern Poets: The Political Line will offer new poetic perspectives on the meaning and power behind drawn lines, as they take form both literally and metaphorically. We hope that you can join us!