Archive for the Behind the scenes Category

Poetry afterparty 17 June . . .

Poetry International volunteer Jeroen dancing at the afterparty in the theatre bar last night.

Interview with Correen Dekker

Correen Dekker © Sarah Ream

Could you tell us about your role in the 42nd Poetry International Festival? What will be different about the festival this year compared to previous festivals?

As one of the two programmers, I am responsible for the content of the festival programme, but my role also involves thinking in broader terms about the form and structure of the festival and the type of events that we organise. Working in this context, it is fascinating to see the impressions of the public regarding the new scheduling of the festival events. This year, the frequency of events increases during the week of the festival, with the highest concentration at the weekend, including a large variety of programmes during the day. I think that we have reflected the festival theme in our events more than during previous festivals. The festival poets too, will be extremely busy this year: they have been actively involved in the planning of the events and be appearing multiple times during the festival.

I first began working at Poetry International as an intern. One of my responsibilities then was to organise a translation workshop for poets: they concentrated on translating the work of one festival poet into their own languages, and interpreted and discussed the meaning, syntax and metaphors, and unravelled a poem in detail. To translate poetry requires such an intense reading, and I definitely find that interesting. That is also the reason why we decided to launch the project ‘Met andere woorden’ (In other words) this year – to give an introduction to translation – and, indirectly, to reading poetry too – to large groups of Dutch people. And, for the first time, we have also organised a translation symposium, at which professional and aspiring translators can meet and exchange ideas.

Tell us a little more about the festival theme, Chaos and Order, and how it relates to your work.

The theme has seemed very relevant in the weeks preceding the festival, which are always chaotic in terms of work, and this year is no exception. I think that we all feel the tension of the unknown aspects of a new schedule; nobody knows exactly what to expect. However, the choice of theme this year stemmed from our interest in various forms of social engagement and our curiosity about how poetry reacts to these. I think it is impossible not to see chaos in newspaper reports and not to recognise various attempts to impose and find order, from events on the world stage to the frustration people feel in cities – places that are constantly ‘event-inducing’, so to speak, and are thus becoming more and more uninhabitable.

Which events, workshops or sessions are you are most looking forward to?

So many, for various reasons: Les Murray being interviewed by none other than Robert Hass is a unique event that I do not want to miss. But I am also looking forward to hearing more about the work of Eugène Savitzkaya, Øyvind Rimbereid and others. Furthermore, I am curious to see how panelists will reflect on the ways in which the Internet affects the development of poetry in the ‘This is me’ event. I personally think that the Internet provides many opportunities for the dissemination of great poetry, but, at the same time, I ask myself whether my impressions are one-sided because of the language barrier and whether there is more I am unintentionally missing. So I am keen to hear what the festival poets think about this.

Correen Dekker is a programmer for the Poetry International Festival.

The countdown to the official opening

© Mònica Colominas

Yesterday, the staff of Poetry International and of the Rotterdam City Theatre worked on preparations before the official opening this evening. Here are some of our colleagues working on the final details.





© Mònica Colominas




Connecting to the world . . .






© Mònica Colominas


. . . more connecting . . .







© Mònica Colominas


. . . backstage explanations before the opening we all are looking forward to tonight!

Interview with Renske Brandhoff

Could you tell us about your role in the 42nd Poetry International Festival? What are the biggest challenges you will face before or during the festival? What are your favourite tasks, and your least favourite?

During my internship at Poetry International, I have helped organise educational projects, of which the biggest is a translation project called ‘Met andere woorden’ (In other words). For this project, people were able to sign up to translate poems by the festival poets at home or in school. During the festival, they will be able to meet the poet whose poems they translated. Since so many poets are coming to Rotterdam, this is quite a challenge to coordinate. Furthermore, I will be coordinating the different festival programmes that will take place in the foyer and in the garden of Café Floor, making sure there everyone turns up at the right place at the right time and that there are enough chairs to sit on and so on. It is definitely going to be a busy week, with so many different programmes in the foyer. It’s my very first festival, so I’m not quite sure yet how it will all work out but I’m really looking forward to it!

© Renske Brandhoff

Which events, workshops or sessions are you are most looking forward to?

The influence of the internet on our daily lives is still growing, and that is both making our world smaller and bigger at the same time. I’m looking forward to the ‘This is me’ event about how the digital world influences poets and their work and how they work with the internet themselves. That’s definitely going to be interesting. Also, many events are related to the city of Rotterdam, which I think is wonderful, and I would like to see some of those events as well.

What does this year’s theme Chaos and Order mean to you in terms of poetry, the festival and your work?

That’s a hard question. I grew up in a small place, so for me, working in Rotterdam automatically implies some sort of chaos, especially at the Poetry International office . . . The different festival events have made me realise that poetry embodies and examines many kinds of chaos or order. I really appreciate the fact that poetry can make you aware of these kinds of things and perhaps make you look at the world in a slightly different way.

Which poet or poets are you most looking forward to see at the festival?

Truong Tran, Øyvind Rimbereid, Daljit Nagra and Robert Hass.

Renske Brandhoff is a production intern at Poetry International.