By Jonah Grinkewitz

No matter which language you speak, Mars looks the same - and can inspire art.

"From the Earth to Mars in a Rocket of Languages," an event at Old Dominion University's Michael and Kimthanh Lê Planetarium at 5 p.m. Sept. 30, will showcase how people across cultures interpret the red planet.

Close to 20 local and international poets - from Cameroon, Quebec, France, Spain, India, Italy and more - will read their poems about Mars in their native languages.

Local poets - including several ODU faculty members - will read at the Planetarium and international poets will be Zoomed in to read their works among the constellations of the Planetarium walls. Translations of their poems will be displayed as they read.

Open to the public, the free event is organized by Peter Schulman, Eminent Scholar and professor of world languages and cultures at ODU, and Justin Mason, director of the Planetarium.

"I hope to show how our planet can be connected through languages rather than divided by them," Schulman said. "By having poets from around the world read their poems about Mars in their respective languages and merge with our local ones here in Norfolk, we can show how linked we can be as we look toward far-off planets like Mars ... and how not so far off it may seem within the dreamy confines of the stars and planets at the Planetarium."

The event is a precursor to "Mars Fest," the second public arts festival from Oct. 14 to 16 at ODU, where a large-scale sculpture of the planet created by UK-based artist Luke Jerram will be displayed on 43rd Street outside the Barry Art Museum.

Here is a full lineup of the poets set to speak at the Planetarium:

  • Virginia Beauregard D., Quebec
  • Muriel Bisso, Cameroon
  • Maria Borio, Italy
  • Naina Dey, India
  • Lourdes Duran, Spain
  • Maelle Dupon, France (Occitan)
  • Joanna Eleftheriou, Greece/CNU/ODU (Norfolk)
  • Laura Ilea, Romania/Montreal
  • Michiko Kaneyasu, Japan/ODU (Norfolk)
  • Margaret Konkol, ODU/Norfolk
  • Blaise Ndala, Democratic Republic of Congo/Montreal
  • Renée Olander, ODU/Norfolk
  • Nathan Owens, ODU/Norfolk (Latin)
  • Angele Paoli, France (Corsica)
  • Diane Regimbald, Quebec/Montreal
  • Nathan Richardson, Norfolk
  • Noah Renn, Norfolk
  • Gabriella Toletti, Uruguay/ODU/Norfolk
  • Thom Yuill, ODU/Norfolk
  • Ren Zhongtang, China/ODU/Norfolk

For more information, please email Peter Schulman at

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