On October 7, 2013, a special poetry evening was held at the United Macedonian Diaspora’s office in Washington, D.C. featuring Dr. Natasha Garrett and Nola Garrett. Prior to the poetry readings, UMD President Metodija A. Koloski provided the audience with a briefing about the 4th UMD Global Conference held in Macedonia this past summer.
“I am delighted to have had such a pleasant discussion about the 2013 UMD Global Conference and its outcomes. It was a great informational opportunity for the UMD members from DC/VA/MD who were unable to attend the Conference in Macedonia,” said UMD’s D.C./Virginia/Maryland Representative Zhikica Pagovski. “The poetry evening was a unique promotion of Macedonian literature and national heritage. We were excited to host Nola and Natasha who are outstanding literature scholars and poets.”
For close to a decade, Natasha and Nola Garrett have been working together on translating Macedonian poetry. Dr. Natasha Garrett moved to the U.S. from Macedonia in 1993. Her Macedonian translations have appeared in Arts and Letters and Christian Century.
“Poetry translation is a form of cultural advocacy, because it presents to a wider audience an aspect of Macedonian arts and culture than would otherwise not be available. It certainly opened up a cross-cultural conversation between my mother-in-law and myself,” stated Dr. Natasha Garrett. “I am interested in writing about what it feels like to live between cultures, and how challenging such life can be, even when it’s voluntary.”
Natasha Garrett’s mother-in-law, Nola Garrett is Faculty Emerita of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania where she taught literature and writing. Her poems, Macedonian poetry translations, and essays have appeared in Able Muse, FIELD, Georgia Review, Imagination and Place, Poet Lore, and the Tampa Review. Regarding the cooperation with her daughter-in-law, Nola Garrett noted: “This translation began a dozen years ago with a phone call from my son, Chan, saying ‘Mom, I’ve met a girl, and she makes stuffed peppers that taste just like yours!'”
Here is one of the poems Natasha read during the poetry evening:
Where are you from?
I used to be from letters and phone calls Now I am mostly from keyboards, Missed weddings, Green customs declaration forms.
I am a pendulum Swinging in 6-hour intervals. On my two-dial watch My future is my past is my future again Mine is the language of postcards and luggage tags, Of apple pies and roasted pepper spreads.
I live on the Avenue of Mispronunciation, I am Huckleberry Finn Written in Cyrillic.
By Natasha Garrett