where the writers are
Laureating Poetry in a dramatic fashion
Orphan of Zhao

As poetry is an incredibly language and culture-based art form, I would think that location would be most easily identifiable based on the poems themselves.  I recently helped the National Center for Performing Arts (aka:  The Egg) here in Beijing with a translation of the Orphan of Zhao* opera.  And like song lyrics everywhere, the language is often very poetic and while not all the subtlety and beauty was lost in translation, it very rarely makes the transition well. 

Personally I would be honored to be a poet laureate anywhere, though as a native English speaker, it would probably be best if it were somewhere in the anglo-stratosphere.  (Although I did just write a very rather long Mandarin poem in the kuaiban style that I'll be performing in front of a live audience in a couple weeks, so who knows, maybe I could make it as a Chinese poet, too, ha!)

But this is why I am naturally more drawn to performance art.  Reading amazing poetry on a piece of paper (or on a computer screen) is significantly less interesting than being present at a wonderful performance of poetry read aloud.  Shakespeare is the most obvious example I can think of, as the language seems tedious and confused on paper, and yet on stage... its breathtaking.  I've attended a variety of live readings in my time, from the coffeehouse open mic nights to the Broadway stage, and certainly a good poem is good regardless of the ability of the poet to read the poem aloud in an engaging way.  But if its read aloud with emotion and passion, well, its fantastic. 

So really, I'd focus less on location, and more on communication (poetry has no power if people cannot understand it).  And perhaps I'm being too literal, but this is my blog, so I'm allowed to, ha ;)

*Orphan of Zhao is an amazing peking opera piece, gory beyond belief, emotional, political and of course involves almost every character possible commiting suicide

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Orphan of Zhao

I was in Beijing for the world premiere of the western opera Orphan of Zhao at the NCPA.  One correction, it is based on an ancient story, often depicted in traditional Peking Opera, but the June 2011 performance was composed in the western style of opera, i.e. think Puccini.  It is a powerful story of persecution and sacrifice.  This was the public "art" face of China's new commitment to western style arts, while at tbe same time the long awaited release of artist Ai Wei Wei took place without public comment or official acknowledgement.

I wonder if one can be a poet laureate if freedom of expression is not a shared value? 

Kelly