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"Persistent Voices" At The National Academy Of Sciences

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Making you think - and feel - at the National Academy of Science's Keck Center Thursday night during "Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS."
Richard Sawdon Smith
Making you think - and feel - at the National Academy of Science's Keck Center Thursday night during "Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS."

By Stephanie Kaye

A new book featuring the poetry of writers who died from AIDS is the subject of a reading and discussion at the National Academy of Sciences tomorrow [Thursday] night. The event is based on the book "Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS."

JD Talasek runs the cultural programs at the NAS. He says "Persistent Voices" is introducing poets who have died of AIDS to a new generation of readers while memorializing their work.

"It takes an entire lifetime for a career to be built," he says. "This epidemic, especially in the 80s, cut people's lives short."

Just a young boy in the 80s, Philip Clark is now one of the book's editors.

"I think a lot of people are intimidated: both by poetry, and by the idea of a collection by writers who died from AIDS," says Clark. "They think it's going to be a grim kind of read."

Clark and Talasek say the works cover a range of topics.

"There's some really fun poems, some beautiful love poetry in there. It really has a diversity of voices within the book."

It took Clark four years to track down some of the writers, in part because of misdiagnoses early on in the epidemic and because some writers didn't admit they had the disease.

"In the course of that time, four poets who are in 'Persistent Voices' passed away from AIDS," says Clark. "The epidemic is not over, and it's not through affecting the world's artistic communities."

The event will take place at the National Academy of Sciences' Keck Center in downtown D.C.

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