Friday, November 14, 2008

The word for wine in our language is "shut up"

I spent several hours yesterday evening in the company of Alan and Zanah, two young Kurdish musicians from northern Iraq. They are studying English as a new language at SLU and violin with Marc Thayer of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, thanks to Marc's persistence.

I learned from them that Marc teaches regularly in the Kurdish areas of Iraq and has bloomed as something of a culture hero there, in a culture that highly values teachers. In fact, when I asked them last night whether they were tempted to stay here, Alan said without hesitation, "No. My country needs me. My country needs teachers. I must take what I learn here and go home to help to rebuild my country."

I am profiling these two admirable young men in the Symphony's Playbill magazine, but I'll bottleg it here once I have worked up my notes, which were scrawled over beer and "finger chips" (fries) at The Tap Room.

We also agreed on a number of projects we will pursue together. I insist that they both start blogs. I want them to find a great Kurdish poet who has not been translated into English and to translate this poet together with me. I want to see them performing regularly around town - violin duet on Kurdish traditional and European classical music - as the Suli Duo. And we must record them.

I also hope to see them next Friday, Nov. 21 at the Poetry Scores Art Invitational at Hoffman LaChance.

No comments: