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Local poetry featured at Art Reach's Wellspring Literary Series

In a well-lit room Monday night, about 35 people sat in varying rows of chairs at the Art Reach Center of Mid Michigan, listening to poetry ranging from the middle ages to the present.

Mount Pleasant residents Ronnie Apter and Mark Herman were the guests of the evening, prefaced by a few poems read by Vulcan graduate Nathan Drew Emerson.

“There’s a lot of nature involved (in my work)," said Emerson, a creative writing graduate.

Listening to music inspires Emerson to write.

Assistant English Professor Robert Fanning began the evening with “I Love You Sweatheart” by Tom Lux in honor of the Valentine’s Day holiday. This was accompanied by laughter because of the comical nature of the poem.

“I started the series because I thought it’d be great to bring some prominent poets and writers to Mount Pleasant.” Fanning said. “Also, it’s a chance for CMU students to share their work.”

Apter and Herman have been working together since 1975 and have completed 61 poetry translations. Apter was a professor at CMU until she retired in 2008. In 2003, she won the President's Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity.

Their performance consisted of translations of poems, operas and some original poems, Herman said.

All of the opera libretti, or musical text, are intended to be passionately sung, Herman said. Libretti can also be translated to words of the opera or opera lyrics.

The two performers read work from the 12th century to the 20th century, and some original poems from the 21st century as well.

“Poetry we get to choose based on creative use of language, thought and wit,” Apter said.

The evening consisted of a combination of readings from personal and translated poems of well-known authors, as well as singing of translated work.

Each poem or opera was prefaced with a short biography of the writer, history and sometimes purpose of the piece.

“A professor teaching a French class when I was in college didn’t like any of the translations, so he asked me to do some.” Apter said, “That got me thinking about it.”

Herman said his favorite translation is whatever he and Apter are working on at the time.

Apter said Mozart’s "The Magic Flute” was her favorite translation.