The Milwaukee Public Library is proud to be one of six public library systems in the nation to participate in Poetic Voices of the Muslim World, a National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures initiative in cooperation with Poets House, City Lore, and the American Library Association. NEH developed Bridging Cultures to engage the power of the humanities to promote understanding and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad.
Poetic Voices of the Muslim World offers an 18-panel traveling exhibit and related programming that use scholarly interpretation and performance of oral and literary Muslim poetic traditions. It highlights these traditions from four major language areas — Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu — and introduces poetry from Asia, Africa and diaspora communities in the United States, providing new ways for Americans to discover how poetry plays a central role in the intellectual, spiritual, social and political aspects of these cultures.
Past Program Podcasts
Song of the Reed: Rumi with Dr. Jawid Mojaddedi and a performance by Amir Vahab
The Worlds of the Ghazal performance by Kiran Ahluwalia
Sunday, November 3 at 1 p.m.
Marquette University, Varsity Theatre
Islam and the Blues with Dr. Sylviane Diouf
Through images and recordings, award-winning historian Sylviane A. Diouf of the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture illustrates how the blues, which originated in the American South, may have evolved from the techniques of the recitation of the Qur'an and the call to prayer in West Africa. She plays early blues recordings side by side with African recordings of the call to prayer and invites audiences to catch the similarities.
Wednesday, November 6 at 6 p.m.
Kids Club (ages 6-12): Arabic Calligraphy
Arabic calligraphy is not only beautiful decoration but also a form of artistic expression. Learn about Arabic calligraphy and Arabic numerals, practice writing, and leave with a beautiful memento.
Sunday, November 17 at 2 p.m.
Central Library, Centennial Hall
Yemeni Women’s Poetic Traditions with Dr. Najwa Adra
Dr. Najwa Adra is a cultural anthropologist who traveled to Yemen to explore and record women’s songs, short poems, and rhyming proverbs from rural areas to illustrate the ways in which poetry is integrated into village life. She describes how verse is used by women as a socially acceptable way to express their feelings and opinions, even expressing how they feel about prospective suitors for marriage. She also discusses the impact that economic and social change along with recently imported conservative interpretations of Islam have had on these traditions.
Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities, conducted in cooperation with the American Library Association. Major support for the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf was provided by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support for the arts and media components was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
Poetic Voices of the Muslim World is presented by Poets House and City Lore, in partnership with the American Library Association and the Milwaukee Public Library along with the public libraries in Los Angeles, Jacksonville, Washington D.C., Detroit and Queens, NY.