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The Poetry Book Project

Under the Big Tree is a bilingual book of poetry and is free to use in homes, classrooms, community libraries, school theatres, or even village festivals. It came to life thanks to an ETHER collaboration of Professor Maggie Kubanyiova with an artist and poet Sophie Herxheimer and a Slovak-based Romani translator Anna Koptova. Sophie's original poems and paintings are a creative response to Maggie's fieldwork in Slovakia, accompanied by Anna's Romani translations. Šuňiben kamibnaha is an invitation. It means listening with love. This kind of affective engagement with others refrains from judgment and revels in life. Šuňiben kamibnaha has informed our collaborative encounters and it is our hope that it will inform yours as you encounter the book's voices.

Poems do not have to make sense, they operate within different rules to prose, they make sounds, hopefully music, that perhaps have flavour rather than direction. In this way, I hope that the poems will stand for people who may be subject to prejudice, but who may reward consideration and attention. I aim for them to speak, but not to preach, perhaps to elicit poems (or at least some mystery or confusion) in return. We are all poems, with our extraordinary potential to encapsulate paradox, doubt and certainty, the clean and the dirty, in our minds and in our bodies.

Sophie Herxheimer, 2023

Image (c) Robin Christian

The book comes with an additional pack of educational resources. To request these or for more information about the project, please contact Prof Maggie Kubanyiova (