Stoneleigh-Burnham School is pleased to welcome Diana Alvarez and Jeff Diteman to its annual Poetry Festival on April 19, 2018. Alvarez and Diteman are area poets, translators, educators, and performers who have agreed to come and work together to share their love of language.

April is National Poetry Month, a celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. To mark Poetry Month, SBS will hold its annual Poetry Festival and celebrating student poetry with a poetry contest.

The festival will begin at 7 p.m. in the Capen Room, immediately following Formal Dinner. The event is free and open to the public.

SBS students are encouraged to submit original poetry to the contest; submissions are due by April 15, and selected speakers will be notified by April 16, said English Department Chair Jacob Steward.

He added, “The twist this year is that, unlike years past, we have a challenge for our poets: multi-lingual poetry. To honor our guests, and in recognition of the wide array of languages spoken in our school, we encourage poets to look for opportunities in their work to explore multiple languages. This year we want you to take advantage of this chance to discover what you can create when multiple languages come together.”

Steward continued, “Remember that the only language common to all of us is English, but don’t be afraid to share ideas (and words) with us that we don’t know. Explore the notion of identity, language, and the struggle to be who you are when you have to use a language that isn’t fully your own. As the people of Georgia (საქართველო) say, ‘The number of languages you speak is the number of people you are.’ By that standard, there are quite a lot of us here at SBS. Let’s see how many of us can speak at the Poetry Festival.”

Steward thanked English teacher Celine Nader for her work bringing Alvarez and Diteman to SBS for this event.

Diana Alvarez, currently of Northampton, calls herself a “Xicana singer/guitarist, poet, composer, and video/sound artist.” She has been published in several journals, as well as in her own chapbook, Consultations with Bruja Juana. In addition to her poetry, she has had success as a singer/songwriter, performer, and educator. A noteworthy accomplishment is her Xicanx Ritual Opera: Quiero Volver (meaning “I want to return”). Click here for a short excerpt. In all of her work, multilinguality, multi-ethnic, and multi-identity considerations are front and center.

Jeff Diteman, currently of Amherst, bills himself as a writer, translator, and artist. His writing credits are varied, as he is currently working toward a PhD in comparative literature, has translated Pablo Martín Sánchez’s novel The Anarchist Who Shared My Name into English (due to release soon), has already published other translations of prose and poetry, and writes his own original prose, poetry, essays, and fiction. Click here for an example of his unique approach to translation. For him, language is clearly on his mind all of the time, and his insights into its potential and the considerations of expression and translation should prove to be profound and fascinating.