Centuries before a fat, sassy baby with wings and a tiny bow and arrow became an icon of romance, Greeks were writing about love darts and Cupid-like characters.
"Those ancient Greek poets were the first to use these (symbols)," said Richard Dauenhauer, a Juneau poet and scholar. "They are the source of many of our Valentine's Day images."
Richard and Nora Marks Dauenhauer are the featured poets Tuesday night at "Between the Lines," the monthly poetry series sponsored by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Goldtown Nickelodeon Theater. An open mike for local writers to share their own love-themed poetry will follow the Dauenhauers' reading.
The theme this month is the poetry of love. The Dauenhauers will read their original poetry as well as selections by E.E. Cummings, Shakespeare and others. Dauenhauer said he plans to read from the works of John Donne, an English poet and contemporary of Shakespeare.
"I'll read some of his lesser-known works," he said. "They're a little more risqu."
Richard Dauenhauer reads classical Greek and will share translations of 2,000-year-old Greek love poetry. He said English poets in Elizabethan times were inspired by some of these same Greek writers, and their use of the images and ideas introduced the symbols to English literature and Western art.
He said Nora Dauenhauer will read some of her original poems that touch upon other aspects of love.
"Love poems can be spiritual as well as erotic - about ancestors, kids and family. She has a whole range of poems like that," Dauenhauer said.
Respected linguists and award-winning writers, the Dauenhauers have volumes of original work and translations to their credit. Nora Marks Dauenhauer has published two collections of poetry and prose, "Life Woven With Song" and "The Droning Shaman." She received the Governor's Award for the Arts in 1989 and in 1991 she was the winner of the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award.
For many year the couple researched language and cultural studies for the Sealaska Heritage Foundation, and they produced a 900-page tome titled "Haa Kusteeyi, Our Culture: Tlingit Life Stories," part of a series on Tlingit oral literature.
The Dauenhauers will read for about 45 minutes and an open mike will follow. Admission is $5.