NEA Arts Magazine

Connecting Lines Across Borders

NEA Forms Partnership To Release New Bilingual Poetry Anthology

12writers.jpg

Pedro Serrano, Diane Thiel, and Elsa Cross in front of a bookshelf

Pedro Serrano, Diane Thiel, and Elsa Cross are three of the poets featured in the two-volume bilingual poetry anthology, Connecting Lines. Photo: Liz Stark.

The Cultural Institute of Mexico in Washington, DC and the NEA celebrated the release of the two-volume bilingual poetry anthology Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico and Líneas Conectadas: nueva poesía de los Estados Unidos with a reading by several of the anthology's featured writers. Mexican poets Elsa Cross and Pedro Serrano and U.S. poet Diane Thiel joined Chairman Dana Gioia for the reading at which each poet recited his or her work in both Spanish and English. The April 19 event was the first stop on a reading tour to Texas, New Mexico, and California.

Cover of Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico Cover of Lineas Conectadas: nueva poesia de los Estados Unidos

 

The idea for the anthology germinated in 2003 at a meeting involving the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and Mexico's arts and humanities council. The NEA, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico partnered to bring the project to fruition. Published by Sarabande Books, each volume contains the work of 50 poets from the postwar generation writing in diverse styles. U.S. poets whose work appears in the anthology include former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove and Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa.

April Lindner was the editor tasked with choosing the work for Lineas Conectadas, the U.S. volume of the anthology. She explains, "I chose poems I imagined would travel well - that describe a thin slice of contemporary American life in the rich specificity that magically makes the local universal."

Chairman Gioia affirmed that the anthologies illustrate illustrate the deep connection that has always existed between the two nations. In his introduction to Lineas Conectadas, he notes, "As a Mexican-American born and raised in a Southern California neighborhood where about half the population spoke Spanish, I observed, even as a child, the complex but essentially familial link being formed between Mexico and the U.S."

Hernán Lara Zavala, the Mexican author who conceived the project with Gioia, considers the anthologies an important vehicle for building understanding between the two neighbors. "Culture has the advantage of being inclusive, tolerant, generous, spontaneous, democratic, and vital and perhaps is the best medium to bring together two nations as different as Mexico and the U.S. ... allowing both countries to be better understood through the fine sensibility and keen perception of poetry."