Heather Derr-Smith, poet, founder, and director of Cuvaj se/Take care is traveling through Bosnia-Herzegovina facilitating poetry & creative writing workshops with students in Tuzla, Gracanica, Trebinje, Bihac, Mostar, Banja Luka, and Doboj, funded by the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia-Herzegovina and American Corners.
You can read more about the workshops and read student work here:
Tuzla, May 13, 2019
Students gathered with Heather Derr-Smith to share work by Jericho Brown from his new book The Tradition published by Copper Canyon Press. We read the title poem and discussed racism and white supremacy in the United States. Students made flower crowns in honor of Jericho Brown and in memory of black men killed by the police in the United States. Students wrote their own lines of poetry on the ribbons in elegy or praise, or both.
Next we spent time with a young Bosnian poet, Selma Asotic, studying in the U.S. at Boston University. Everyone melted for her poems. You can read her work at Strane: http://strane.ba/author/selmaasotic/ and with The Borders Project, also at Strane: http://strane.ba/the-borders-project-selma-asotic-nacija/
We spent a long time with Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky. Students understood it so deeply, living in a country still recovering from a devastating war and genocide “You must speak not only of great devastation–” writes Ilya in the poem “Eulogy” https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/02/18/deaf-republic
You can oder Deaf Republic at Graywolf Press
In the last hour of workshop we read Rocket Fantastic by Gabriel Calvocoressi published by Persea Books. We studied the Bandleader’s mysterious pronoun, which Gabby says is pronounced “as an intake of breath when the body is full of its possibilities”
and then students made quilt blocks which Heather Derr-Smith will embroider as a quilted wall hanging for the American Corner in Tuzla.
We had a great time together and students wrote and shared work and promised to stay connected. Tuzla is proud of its reputation as a place where all ethnic groups and religions come together as one supportive and interconnected community.