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Pictured is Channa Newman, Ph.D. Submitted photo.

Channa Newman, Ph.D., professor of French and cultural studies and chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, recently visited the Czech Embassy in Paris for a poetry reading celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Prague Writers' Festival. Newman has been involved with the festival for nearly two decades and was instrumental in bringing the festival to Point Park University in 2013, its first engagement in the U.S.

The event in Paris, as with all literary events, was highlighted by everyone's appreciation of literature and its significance as an expression of both individuals and cultures, Newman said.

Pictured is Channa Newman at the Czech Embassy in Paris. Submitted photo.
Pictured is the interior of the Czech Embassy in Paris.

"The Prague Writers' Festival is international, and, in its 30-year history has featured great writers – poets, playwrights, novelists – many of whom are Nobel laureates, including Harold Pinter, Derek Walcott, Wole Soyinka, Svetlana Alexeivich and others, as well as public intellectuals and feminists, like Germaine Greer, whom I interviewed in Prague a couple of years ago," she said. "The festival also features lesser-known writers, many from Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The aim is to introduce them to western countries and translate them into more languages."

Newman has met many poets and authors through her affiliation with the festival, such as Iraqi poet Yousuf Saadi and Dominican-American author Junot Diaz.

"I have assigned Saadi's poems to my students, as I am currently teaching a course on Poetry and Architecture in Global Perspective," she said. "I remain in touch with some of the writers and am able to assist in inviting them to campus."

In Europe, Newman said, there is great admiration for poetry and poets.

"Streets are often named after poets in France and in the Czech Republic," she said. "This is an important indication that poets still have status in some parts of the world."

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