I'm here this time thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to attend a two-week institute on Islamic Art and Poetry. I arrived yesterday afternoon, checked in to my dorm room (yes, dorm room!), then headed to City Lore for the welcome reception.
The institute is for teachers. About 1/3 are from the metropolitan area, while the rest of us hail from across the US. There are a lot of English teachers, but quite a few art teachers, a couple elementary school teachers, and, of course, yours truly representing the very first theater teacher to attend this institute.
This morning we met at the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies (part of NYU, on the southwest side of Washington Square Park) for formal introductions and the first lecture.
Dr. Bruce Lawrence and Dr. Rafey Habib talked about the Qur'an and about the issues of translation. They are collaborating on a new translation of the Qur'an. I have not heard from a book's translator before, and it was really interesting to consider some of the issues they are dealing with, including:
- Do you translate the word "Allah"? (as in, "In the name of Allah" vs. "In the name of God")
- The Islamic God is all things, including genders. So, when you write about a genderless (trans-gender, where "trans" is beyond) diety, what English pronouns do you use?
- How do you maintain the poetic aspects of the writing when you're translating into a language with significantly less rhyming words than the original?
We broke at noon, and a teacher from St. Paul, Brittany, and I walked down a few blocks to each grab a bahn mi for lunch (so many dining options!). Then back to the center for a lecture from Mitra Dejkameh on the art of calligraphy. She brought materials for us to give it a whirl, so we played with reeds, ink, and watercolors after the formal part of her presentation.
Brittany; Sean, an English teacher from a private school in St. Louis; and I walked around for a while. Brittany's never been to New York before, so she was interesting in seeing, well, anything. After I led them to Pop-Bar for a mid-afternoon gelato treat (they did not require much persuasion), we wandered through Soho and Chinatown before parting ways. I walked back up to Union Square, and picked up a sandwich from Grey Dog Cafe for dinner and a mini berry tart from Le Pain Quotidient for dessert (again, super excited about the dining options!), then headed back to my sparse dorm room at Founder's Hall to blog and work on my reading for tomorrow's classes.
|My dorm room at Founder's Hall. I can see sky from my window!|
|My calligraphy from today. The blue watercolor was a mistake - the ink wasn't dry enough to obey. |
It says "Water House" in Persian in four different directions.
|Mmm... gelato on a stick....|
* Three times in one year is a little excessive, isn't it? Especially when it'll actually be four times once I come back in October with Jason for a little opera?