Daily Video

March 20, 2009

Poet Creates Identity in Verse

Poet, playwright and editor Nathalie Handal has lived in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Arab world. She uses poetry to weave together her memories and experiences and move forward as a person in the world.

“I’ve had a transient life, and so poetry and the word has been important because that’s what I’ve gone back to, because that has stayed. So I’ve gone back to poetry for my memories, for what I’ve left behind,” she said when she spoke at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.


“I’m always struck by the way poetry addresses our shared humanity. It makes us, you know, go to that place of dialogue. It sort of unifies us in a very important way.” – Poet Nathalie Handal

“When I came to the U.S., they asked me what accent I had. And I said, ‘I think it’s kind of French.’ They’re like, ‘No, no, no, it sounds Spanish. ‘I’m like, ‘OK, that’s fine. ‘You know, my parents live in Latin America now. If you want it to be Spanish, that’s OK, but I come from Bethlehem. They’re like, ‘Oh, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. ‘And I’m like, ‘No, Palestine. ‘They’re like, ‘Oh, Pakistan. ‘” – Poet Nathalie Handal

Warm Up Questions

1. What is identity?

2. How do poets reflect their culture?

Discussion Questions

1. What did this poet say about the role of poetry?

2. What did you like about her poem?

3. What was the poet trying to communicate?

4. How might this poet or poem influence your writing?

Additional Resources

Transcript of this interview

The Poetry Foundation

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