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In the beginning . . .

by Bas Kwakman on June 11th, 2010

The days before the festival are strange. What needs to be done is done, and it’s too late for everything else. The calm before the storm. Printing out schedules, press releases, translations, speeches, timetables for drivers, arrival times of flights, technical lists. Lots of schedules.

Everything lying on my desk was put in a box with the name Bas on it and taken with the other office equipment and papers to the Rotterdam City Theatre.

Many poets are already on their way here. They’ll be flying into Rotterdam from 20 different countries and 5 different continents. They’ve got their visas with them, letters from Poetry International, their personal schedules, their books and the names of the people picking them up at the airport. They are thinking about the poets they’ll soon meet, about the city and the audience.

There is a huge contrast between the initial introductions which will take place tomorrow, and the warm parting hugs, the type of hugs you would only give to close, old friends, as everyone says goodbye at the end of the week.

A great festival awaits. In the next week, Rotterdam will host enough poetry from around the world to last an entire year. The programme is full with new events, such as a live radio play, a theatre performance, an opera and films. And I’m very much looking forward to the events centred around our two focal points: the relationship between prose and poetry, and poetry from the USA.

But what I’m looking forward to most of all are the poems that will be recited for the first time on the stages of the Poetry International Festival; to the beautiful translations that bring the most unfamiliar languages straight into the hands of the audience; to seeing poets translating each others’ work so they can share it with friends in their home countries in their own languages.

Tomorrow is the official opening of the 41st Poetry International Festival: let the poetry begin.

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