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Well-traveled Poet Finds Consistency in Words

Poet, playwright and editor Nathalie Handal has lived in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Arab world. She talks with Jeffery Brown about how she has ensconced her memory and transient experiences in poetry.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And finally tonight, from our ongoing coverage of poets and poetry, Nathalie Handal, a writer and editor who brings poetry from different parts of the world to an American audience. She spoke to us last month while in Washington, D.C., for the Kennedy Center's Arabesque festival.

    NATHALIE HANDAL, writer and editor: My name is Nathalie Handal. I'm a poet, playwright, and writer, and editor of different anthologies.

    I'm from Bethlehem. And I've lived in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the United States, and the Arab 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.

    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.

    I'm a co-editor for "Language for a New Century," which I co-edited with Tina Chang and Ravi Shankar. We brought together more than 400 voices, different languages, and all these voices sort of echo something of my own personal experience and has been very important in how I move forward, not only as a writer, but as a person in the world.