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Poet Celebrates Family Picnics and ‘Great Melting Pot’ of Language

Poet Gregory Djanikian, director of the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania, reads a poem about how immigrants "might contribute to the great melting pot of the English language."

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    My name is Gregory Djanikian, and I was born in Alexandria, Egypt, of Armenian parentage, and came to this country when I was 8 years old. I spent my boyhood in a small town in Pennsylvania, Williamsport, home of the little league, and my acculturation to this country occurred in some ways on the baseball fields of that town.

    Now I live near Philadelphia, a city which saw the founding of this nation. I'd like to read a poem called "Immigrant Picnic," which describes a July Fourth get-together of my immigrant family, who, with American families across the nation, contribute to the celebration of independence.

    The poem also describes how we might contribute to that great melting pot that is the English language, that, for many of us who have come from different countries, our difficulties with American idioms often lead to unexpected syntactic constructions and surprising turns of phrase which enrich the language and by which we all are enriched.