Posts tagged Poetry International

Poetry International Festival videos and audio recordings

The festival ended last night, but you can relive (or discover) the five days of international poetry in Rotterdam via our Poetry International Vimeo channel, where we’ve uploaded subtitled recordings of poetry readings as well as interviews, and on Poetry International Web, which has audio recordings of the poets reading. We’ll be uploading more audio and videos from the festival in the coming weeks.

Interview with Øyvind Rimbereid

Interview with Øyvind Rimbereid from Poetry International on Vimeo.

Daljit Nagra at the festival: Interview and reading

 

Interview with Daljit Nagra from Poetry International on Vimeo.

 

Daljit Nagra: ‘SINGH SONG!’ from Poetry International on Vimeo.

Hotels and balloons

9 a.m., Thursday, June 16.  It’s raining warmly in Rotterdam.  I’m sitting in tranquil Dudok, the café two blocks from Hotel Atlanta where poets and PIW editors are housed. Some years back, Israeli poet Nurit Zarchi wrote of her desire to remain at the Atlanta, apparently for its tranquility and and in order to experience the eternal promise involved in travel:

Let’s say that I have chosen to live in this hotel,
to be reflected in the mirrors trapped in front of me,
the sun shining on green apples that might be made of wax
and a platoon of coffee mugs
in this quiet-filled space,
chosen to pass door after door with sinking steps
in the hallway of  other people’s sleep on the other side of the wall.
A faucet or a clock speaks its own language,
so I prefer to live in this hotel.
A toothbrush and a water kettle pretend to be family,
letting me read
until the windows whiten behind the screen,
and cars waken earlier than seagulls.
It’s clear that it’s me
who insists taking me home to my room
where the solitary daughters of the deep
sit on suitcases tattooed with all the world’s promises.

A still from the short film Nach grauen Tagen

Speaking of tranquility, I loved the film Nach grauen Tagen by Ralf Schmerberg which played at the festival’s international opening. Based on (translated into film from, it may be said), an Ingeborg Bachmann poem, it is a vision of family life taken to the nth degree of chaos (a theme of the festival). At its center is a harassed mother (in shirt and underpants), who finds respite only when her head is encased in a balloon in which, if I am not mistaken, a few lines of poetry are recited. Outside the balloon is a living room filled with noise, complaints, demands of husband, another mother (in-law?), babies, rabbits, trash, etc.

Perhaps it may be said that attending the PIW poetry festival in Rotterdam is a bit like being inside a balloon.

Interview with The Itinerant Poetry Librarian

TIPL closing for the day in Romania, with a small VPL looking on! July 2010 © TIPL

PIW editor Sarah Ream interviews Sara Wingate Gray, aka The Itinerant Poetry Librarian.

What is The Itinerant Poetry Library?

The Itinerant Poetry Library (TIPL) is a non static, special collections public library of poetry. For free, for everyone, and for everywhere, or at least, everywhere we can get to. From May 2006 until September 2009 the library operated continuously and was, quite literally, carried by myself, The Itinerant Poetry Librarian, which involved hoicking the collection of physical books through 11 countries and 23 towns and cities, providing a free public poetry library service in each spot I got to.

Operating without the confines of a building of its own, but within parameters of typical library systems, including free membership for all, circulation procedures, library regulation and the overseeing of the library’s collection by a librarian in situ, the project fundamentally explores, and encourages users to explore, our perceptions of what a library might be. It’s part public library, part life-experiment and part live art, and by September 2009 The Itinerant Poetry Library had signed up over 1000 members, and collected and acquisitioned new poetry titles in each place the library had operated in, so the collection now has more than 12 languages represented and has been open in more than 200 locations worldwide.

For me, personally, the project is about facilitating people to examine and enrich their lives, their communities, their cultures, in the context of the wider world, by accessing both the library as a live art performance experience, and as a real public library experience – that is, joining the library and sitting down and reading one of the poetry items in the collection. The act of reading, and specifically the act of reading poetry, and even more specifically the act of reading poetry in translation or indeed reading any other of the library’s “lost & forgotten” poetry items facilitates this very process. And it’s this very process which enables us to grow as individuals, and to understand our shared future . . . Because, as the poet Louise Glück has written: “contact, of the most intimate sort, is what poetry can accomplish. Poems do not endure as objects but as presences. When you read anything worth remembering, you liberate a human voice; you release into the world again a companion spirit.”

TIPL lying on top of the grave of e.e. cummings, before opening the library in a Boston cemetery, September 2010 © TIPL

Running The Itinerant Poetry Library was a full-time occupation from 2006 through 2009, and as it provided little or no income (by virtue of the project’s ethos of free open access) this was sustainable only by performing radically new ways of living, such as eating out of the food-bins at the back of supermarkets, sleeping on stranger’s couches, and learning how to heft more than my own body weight in paper-based items (and all my meagre life-belongings) on my back, using public transport along the way to move me from one library location to the next. Since September 2009, the project has continued to operate on a part-time basis, as otherwise I would have wasted away and become too fragile to woman-handle the library around, and this has enabled me to spend more time reflecting on the undercurrents at play in my project, and specifically, to work towards uncovering a philosophy of the public library.

TIPL in her back garden during San Francisco operations, 2008 © TIPL

Fundamentally, my project is here to issue a clarion call, or, indeed, going back to the Doric Greek, a ‘paean’. Or if you’re not so much into that war stuff: a hymn to public libraries, in fact. Its modus operandi has been all about exploring ways of being, sustainable ways. Ways that address some of the core issues of our time: the limits of our world resources, the limits of a capitalist, market-driven, consumer-led philosophy. I think that poetry, and in particular, the public library have a very important part to play in helping us address these issues and that the public library philosophy, if it can be truly uncovered, will shine a light on how we should proceed.

This is an extract from an interview about The Itinerant Poetry Library. Read the full interview with Sara Wingate Gray, The Itinerant Poetry Librarian, on PIW.

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!

12 June 2011: Forgetting

I forgot my toothbrush. But I brought two shavers: I knew I had forgotten something and
now I know what it is. But I didn’t know I had something extra that I didn’t need. But now
I know, and the strange feeling of knowing I had forgotten something has ended. Like a
watermelon with a heavy and sharp knife! Kaaaaaaa! With the beautiful sound I jump out
from the orbicular unknown. The sound is abstracted from the chaos: there was not even
darkness . . . what a sweet chaos . . . and now the watermelon has lost one of its possibilities.
You can never cut into it as a whole and make this heavenly sound again.

That’s what I feel myself now: I was thinking and checking a lot to make sure I had
everything in my luggage. Have you seen an electron? I felt like it: moving my mind from
one point to another. Moving my body from the bedroom to living room . . .

Ok, you haven’t seen an electron. Me neither.

Anyway, now I’m like a core of the atom. Let the electron run. I don’t care. I’m enjoying my
wine under the blue sky. And I have so many options for my dear teeth.

I watch the street: this is a colourful country.

A colourful man is passing by. His honey face, green t-shirt, blue pants and grey hat.
I realise that I forget something else: a hat! It’s cold, right? A different forgetting, right? A
mellow watermelon break itself with a faint aka . . . It looks sweeter.

Many Dutch people look strong, simple and healthy. Their skin is honey-coloured, as if
made up of ocean wind, sunshine and clean air . . . warm and beefy people. Can I say they
look delicious?

Man! What are you saying? There are some people who think the muscle guys on magazine
covers are good for cooking bouillon. Are you one of them?

Yes, I am. I’m sorry. I will never cook a human being. I promise.

I’m sorry about this dark mind that also escaped from the crack in the watermelon. I have
been a human for about 40 years and I think I have already forgotten it . . . What jetlag! It’s
pulling my leg. And my legs are still weak after 10 hours’ flight . . .

Was I a tiger? Or worse: am I a lizard man?

The two shavers: what should I do with them?
My hat: made of animal skin.
A watermelon: once I invited people to eat watermelon together with the rule that there was
to be no talking so we could listen to its last possibility: to be eaten.
A flight: from one half to another half of the globe.
Something happened on the way.

© Andrew F. Jones