It makes a world of difference when the technology to host meetings with participants from around the globe is up to date. Which was evident at the second event of a new series of group readings at the Cornwall Library last weekend, when more than 20 writers from different countries including those as far away as Japan, Brazil, and Southern Africa came together on Zoom to celebrate International Poetry Day in a long-distance format. They were helped enormously by a new camera and sound system the library had purchased recently.

The three-hour session gave local luminaries such as Jane Bevans, Deirdre Fischer, Dolores Hayden, Kathleen Hulser, Nick Jacobs, and Robert Murphy the opportunity to read examples of their work to an eclectic audience that had congregated in cyberspace. And in return applaud the presentations from afar.

The event has been envisioned and was curated and hosted by C.C. Arshagra, a multi-talented musician, visual artist, and poet who lives in Cornwall Bridge. He calls his idea “Artists Without Borders” and sees his initiative as a celebration of free speech around the world, especially in those regions, where it is “being muted.” There was a poet from Zimbabwe for example, “who gave an illustration of what it’s like for a mother to feed her child. And to deal with difficult conditions, with repressive and fearful conditions,” said Arshagra, like making sure to have water and food.

As the series goes forward he would like to put Cornwall on the map with sessions as often as two times a year. This way he can “at least make a larger number of people in the world aware that there is a monumental online poetry community. A community that is expanding and growing daily, as more and more people from around the world are interacting globally than ever before.”

—Juergen Kalwa

📸: Juergen Kalwa