If you focus on the similarities people share instead of the differences, it's simple to see why mankind's considered a family.

Take the Soviet poet Olzhas Suleimenov. His hometown, a city of 700,000, sits in a handsome valley surrounded by high mountains. It's a university town, with an interesting interplay between the general population and scholarship.A major concern in Suleimenov's home is the effect of nearby nuclear testing. Who suffers from it? Why did the government choose to test so close to a major population? Who's responsible for the tragedies?

If Utahns find all this eerie and familiar, the parallels have not been missed by Suleimenov and his cohorts, either. For such reasons the poet will be in St. George on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 2 p.m. to meet with Utahns in the City Hall there.

For more information about travel arrangements for the event or anything else about the appearance, call 581-0412 or 582-1275.

Suleimenov (pronounced Soo-lee-men-off) has lived through the horrors of state terrorism and the wonders of a popular uprising where each citizen - man, woman and child - displayed the bravery of the greatest soldiers. Such experience give his poetry a resonance and grandeur despite its conversational tone and popular style.

As for the poet himself, Emma Lou Thayne, who is helping draw attention to Suleimenov's American tour, describes him as "A great bear of a man (who) would seem more a benevolent descendent of Genghis Khan than a poet. He is both."

According to Russian literature texts, Suleimenov's poems are "close to prose and rich in alliterations and the musical elements . . . in the Turkish languages."

His poems also draw life from the concerns of the common people. He takes their voice, mixes it with the feelings of his heart, and gives his poems back to them, as can be seen in the opening lines of a poem that ends both tragically and beautifully:

What do you know, clouds

are massed above the towns,

there's no way through just now.

I ride above the clouds.

Next week, one of the Soviet Union's most gifted will be riding above the clouds to Utah.