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The festival programmer’s view

by Correen Dekker on June 16th, 2010

Correen Dekker

As a programmer, I have the chance to invite my favourite poets to the festival and I’m free to come up with fabulous plans for festival programmes. I’m responsible for turning these plans into realistic plans and then into real programmes. It’s the perfect job for someone like me, who loves poetry and enjoys being an organiser. Fortunately, I haven’t been doing this alone. Together with my fellow programmer, Liesbeth Huijer, and festival director Bas Kwakman, we made the important decisions about which programme should be when and where, and what the main topic would be. We also owe a lot to Poetry International Web editors, festival friends, poets and others, who came up with advice and suggestions, gave hints on good poetry and helped us along the way.

While devising events, my personal ambition is to acquaint the audience with poetry that’s ‘new’, to bring on stage poets they haven’t heard of yet. I’d like to programme both poetry that has been written long ago, and contemporary poetry. And in my opinion, moving borders, crossing borders, and focusing on both western as well as non-western poetry and poetic traditions is one of the most interesting parts of programming the Poetry International Festival. Bringing on stage beautiful unknown poems, whether from Kazakhstan or from Europe, from the sixth century or the twentieth, that’s what thrills me.

You can understand I’m exited about the participation of someone like the Peruvian poet, Carlos López Degregori, whose colourful poems I really admire, or having the opportunity to listen to the almost claustrophobic and questioning poetry of South-Korean poetess Kim Hyesoon. I’m really glad to have the Sudanese poet Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi between us. He’s quite young and not yet well-known in Europe, but reads in his own land for audiences of 3,000 people – something we almost can’t imagine in the Netherlands. I also hope to gain some insight into the poetry scene in Krakow on Friday, and am much looking forward to the programme on the widespread (but in the Netherlands quite unknown) Persian-Arabic love-duo Layla and Madjnun tomorrow.

At this 41st Poetry International Festival, my work is actually done. I just have to be aware of sudden changes in programmes and sudden problems to be solved. (I’m still waiting for the first hectic and unsolvable problem to come, in fact everything has gone really smoothly so far). I’m keeping an eye on the poets, seeing if they know where to be at a certain time, helping them to be there and checking if they’re enjoying themselves.  If most things go as planned, I’ll be really enjoying myself, and I really hope everyone who visits the festival does too.

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