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For all this world-at-the-keystrokes opportunity, how often do we truly go somewhere foreign? Not physically, just moving the mind from its sometimes small, selfish place—how often do we give over to the meditation of listening?

Wise, sweet, cunning: The poet Taha Muhammad Ali is pictured in the center shot. From left to right, visiting poets Peter Cole and Adina Hoffman; Ali; local poets Glenis Redmond and Laura Hope-Gill.

Two very different opportunities for this sortof thing happen this week.

Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole will be in town as part of UNCA’s new Writers on the Line series.

Hoffman has written the first-ever English biography on a Palestinian poet: My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century. Cole recently earned a MacArthur Genius Fellowship: He translates poetry from Muslim Spain, translates the poetry of Taha Muhammad Ali (the subject of Hoffman’s book) and writes poetry himself.

Hoffman will be at UNCA’s intimate Laurel Forum at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8; Cole will be there at 7 p.m. Monday. The events are free.

UNCA associate professor Rick Chess sent this information, and Chess is a man who knows poetry. When he says you ought to go, you ought to go.

Learn about the life of Taha Muhammad Ali, who runs a souvenir shop in Nazareth.

“From Adina Hoffman’s extraordinary book, I have not only learned about the life of that wise, sweet, cunning, superbly gifted and totally original Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, but I have learned—more than ever before—about Jewish and Arab history in Palestine,” writes National Book Award-winner Gerald Stern. “The book is heartbreaking, riveting, and beautifully written.”

I can tell you the facts, the who-what-when, but can’t quite explain the why, except that hearing these people might temporarily break one’s self-centered spell.

Friday, too, brings this chance, when Black Mountain College + Arts Center holds an evening celebrating BMC women. Laura Hope-Gill, Glenis Redmond, Landon Godfrey and Katherine Soniat will read poetry by BMC poets Hilda Morley, M.C. Richards, Jane Mayhall and others, and will read their own works inspired by the current exhibition The Shape of Imagination: Women of Black Mountain College.

And singers Cathy Riley and Linda Metzner will sing a composition written by BMC student Patsy Lynch. Organizers believe it will be the first performance of the song in more than 60 years.

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