Classics professor leads national program

Stephanie Allen

Grand Valley Classics Department professor and co-founder Diane Rayor was selected to lead a series of events at the Grand Rapids Public Library, including a lecture on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

The “Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: Poetry-Drama-Dialogue” program is funded by the National Endowment for Humanities and brings awareness of ancient Greek poetry and drama to 100 communities across the U.S.

“I wanted Grand Rapids to be on the map, in terms of this project,” Rayor said. “I really believe in the outreach of this. It’s introducing the ideas presented in Greek literature, in mythology, in drama, to a boarder audience.”

Rayor will lead a reading group Wednesdays in March that is open to all Grand Rapids community members, but said spots are filling quickly. Although the reading group’s target audience is “adults in the urban community” who have never studied Ancient Greek literature before, GVSU students are welcome to attend.

A reading discussion on April 18 at 6:30 p.m. also features a staged-reading performance by professional actors from the Aquila Theatre and is a rare experience that students should take advantage of, Rayor said.

“Even those this isn’t a full-blown play, it’s just staged readings, you’re going to have some of the premier interpreters in ancient literature coming to Grand Rapids to share that material,” said Charles Pazdernik, chair of GVSU’s classics department.

Pazdernik said Rayor is a perfect fit for this position because of her work translating Greek dramas, which is what the program focuses on.

“Translation is all about taking something that’s inaccessible and making it accessible,” Pazdernik said. “And so the idea behind this project, which is to take these plays and this literature available not only in the academic environment and the university, but also to the community at large, is itself a kind of translation.”

For more information about what “Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: Poetry-Drama-Dialogue” is doing in Grand Rapids and around the country, visit their website at or the library’s website

[email protected]