Highschool, college and adult participants gathered with Heather Derr-Smith on May 21st at the United World College American Corner in Mostar. Writers and scholars and students and composers were all present to share poems and fiction by Jericho Brown, Ilya Kaminsky, Amila Kahrovic Posavljak, Selma Asotic, Maggie Smith, Adrienne Rich and more. Everyone read work, discussed, and wrote lines inspired by the pieces we read. It was a moving time, refelcting on generational trauma, forms of resistance, and healing.
Cuvaj se’s Heather Derr-Smith went to Northern Bosnia next for workshops at the American Corner in Bihac. Floods were once again threatening the region, but luckily the waters receded and the Una river flowed its magnificent blue. Students read work by Jericho brown, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, and Ilya Kaminsky; Maggie Smith’s poem “Good Bones” and for Ramadan, US-Pakistani-Kashmiri poet, Fatimah Asghar, Iranian-American poet Kaveh Akbar, Adonis, Bosnian poets, Selma Asotic, and fiction by Faruk Sehic, “Quiet Flows the Una” Amila Kahrovic-Posavljak’s “Smrtova Djeca” and Velid Beganovic Borjen’s “Residue in Public Tea and Coffee Cups” and for the finale, a poem by Adrienne Rich.
Students made flower crowns, wrote lines of poems on colored ribbons of childhood memories, wrote lines from Faruk Sehic’s work which Derr-Smith will embroider into a quilt for him, and wrote lines of poems about water and rivers and floods on deep blue ribbons that were draped around the classroom and from the stacks of books.
On may 15th, Heather Derr-Smith from Cuvaj se met with an intergenerational group of writers, students and artists at the American Corner in Trebinje. There were students from Middle School to adulthood and the time together was very moving. Work was shared from U.S. poets addressing gun violence and war and identity, Jericho Brown, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, and Ilya Kaminsky, as well as US-Romanian poet Alina Stefanescue, US-Albanian poet and translator Ani Gjika, Tara Skurtu, and Bosnian writers Selma Asotic, and poets with the Border’s Project at Strane. Students wrote nd shared their own works as well. They made poems of healing for a loved one, the earth, themselves inspired by bark and fruits and seeds Derr-Smith found at a medicinal market. Each person wrote their own healing poem and shared with the group. Many of the writers chose to write a healing poem for Heather Derr-Smith. Which felt like a blessing.
Heather Derr-Smith met with students at the Gymnasium in Gracanica, Bosnia for poetry workshops on May 14, 2019. It was a great group of young people so excited to share poetry and literature and to perform their parody of Hamlet which was hilarious. They were so full of joy. Derr-Smith presented work by Jericho Brown, Ilya Kaminsky, and Gabrielle Calvocoressi as well as work by Selma Asotic, Amila Kahrovic-Posavljak, and Ani Gjika, and Velid Beganovic-Borjen. Students made quilt blocks with messages of thanks or quotes from things they had read during the semester for their teacher. Derr-Smith will embroider there messages on a quilt to send to Ljela Djulic.
Students met at the American Corner for poetry workshops with Heather Derr-Smith on May 13, 2019. Students read work by Jericho Brown, Ilya Kaminsky and Gabrielle Calvocoressi as well as Bosnian writers, Selma Asotic, Amila Kahrovic-Posavljak and Velid Beganovic-Borjen.