‘Poets Against the War’ continues its tradition

Feb. 13 in Budig Theater the department of literature and language will present the one-year anniversary of “Poets Against the War,” featuring poet, Vietnam veteran and NKU alumnus R.L. Barth.

Associate professor John Alberti said the event had an interesting beginning.

Originally, First Lady Laura Bush wanted to start a program honoring some of America’s great poets, likeWalt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes, at a national symposium on Feb. 12, 2003.

“When several of the invited poets turned down the invitation in protest of the upcoming war,” Alberti said, “it was cancelled.”

NKU and many other universities around the country took part in the National Day of Poetry Against the War by sponsoring a poetry reading on Feb. 12 in response to Bush’s cancellation.

“We had to rush to set up our event at NKU,” said Alberti, “but we managed to it done and were pleased and moved at the results.”

Alberti admits that he, as well as some others in the department, was apprehensive about the overall response from students.

But, those involved received only positive reactions throughout the whole process, he said.

“The poems were so moving and the readings were so heartfelt that the spirit didn’t seem argumentative, even though the convictions expressed were strong,” said Alberti.

Professor Robert Wallace also felt that last year’s event was a positive experience for the university.

“Students and faculty with whom I have spoken so far seem supportive of this event as the kind of thing that should occur on a college campus,” he said.

“Many who attended last year’s event are very appreciative that they will have an opportunity to do so again this year.”

According to Wallace, this year’s event is different because of our involvement in Iraq during the past 10 months.

“Whereas last year this nation was only threatening war on the nation of Iraq,” Wallace said, “we are now actively engaging in a preemptive war in which more than five hundred young American soldiers and untold thousands of Iraqi citizens of all ages have been killed.”

Alberti also said that it will be interesting to see how the war will affect the turnout this year.

“This year, we’re especially interested in how the war has affected and is affecting the NKU community,” he said.

The program will run from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. and students are encouraged to come read a poem – original or someone else’s – or just listen to others.

There will be a sign-up sheet in the back of the theater to determine the order of presenters.