Award Winning Poet Speaks on Experiences
Candace Williamson, Tower Staff
April 20, 2012
Filed under News
Recognized as one of the “100 Most Powerful Arab Women,” Nathalie Handal came to Catholic on Wednesday to read some of her poetry and speak about her experiences while living in Latin America, Arabia, Europe, the Caribbean, and various other countries. Her poems are known for the foreign phrases she uses in French, Creole and others languages that she has developed over time. She is an award winning poet whose most recent book Poet in Andalucia has been acknowledged by multiple major publications.
Handal opened with a fragmented poem called “Broken Music” which she explained is a reflection on the importance of our human connection with fragments. “Fragments are whole” and indeed not broken at all, says Handal. Several of her poems follow a fragmented format for this reason.
The other poems she read related to her ethnic background, her family’s home of Bethlehem, Israel, her expectations, fears, and even her thoughts on love. She connected each poem with a story or her inspiration for writing the piece. The event was insightful and inspiring, and left the audience with a desire to dig deeper into poetry and literature.
She spoke with ease, recited with grace, and followed the program with an open invitation to the audience to ask questions. At this point, the audience got a better feel for what kind of person Handal is; a woman with an easy going, humble disposition—something that some found surprising considering all of her accomplishments.
Handal spoke in particular about treasuring her childhood home in her heart, especially as she travels and moves all over the world. Hadal suggested that if one forgets her native tongue, forgets her native customs, the only thing that remains the same between countries is the food. She attributes her success and drive as a result of knowing that the words she puts on paper will always remain.
Handal closed the program with a life lesson and a story; she said that while interviewing a Pulitzer Prize winner she learned that it is okay to say, “I do not know.” She encouraged everyone in the room that it is okay not to have a comeback or response to every question; it’s okay to not know. At the end of the event she greeted anyone who wanted to personally meet her with a warm hug and a kind word.