Saturday, May 9, 2009

Poet and Professor--and Prague

In my eagerness to announce to the world that the Hampshire College campus had earned the rating of "moderate dinginess," I somehow neglected to post mention of yet another laudatory news report* on a colleague.

Kristin Palpini, "From Russia with love: Renowned poet brings her passion for literature to Hampshire College," Amherst Bulletin, 10 April:
Hampshire College professor Polina Barskova discovered poetry at age 8 while waiting for her mother in a grocery store parking lot in Russia's Leningrad.

The words poured from her - a poem about fairy tales that came to the child from the "magic voices of the night itself," Barskova recalls.

And the words kept coming.

At age 9, Barskova had a poem, "Young Children of Lenin," published in the Leningrad newspaper.
. . . .
Some called her a prodigy.

Standing in her office in Amherst one day last month, pulling off layers of winter outerwear, Barskova, now 33, reflected on that. "Prodigy is more of an ironic title, right? I began writing early, so some people thought I am some kind of circus freak,' like a talking seal," she said, "but it's still my craft and my vocation." (read the rest)
Polina and I share an interest in the literature, history, and politics of Central and Eastern Europe, and supervise student examinations together. We are about to embark on a new collaboration, leading a study trip to Prague and Kraków from late May through mid-June. The course enrolled students from Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Emerson Colleges, and is being offered in collaboration with the Dartmore Institute for Central European Studies, a leader in study-abroad programs in that part of the world (and one of the best-kept secrets in the field).

I plan to report regularly here about our activities, and we expect that our students will also be blogging from Prague.

(* see also the reports on recent accomplishments by Rachel Rubinstein, Salman Hameed, and the team working on the Darwin anniversary celebrations)

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