25° Medellín International Poetry Festival
2nd World Poetry Summit for Peace and Reconciliation
July 11th to 18th, 2015
Towards a Balance
By Jairo Guzmán
A beautiful constellation of the foundational word in the heaven of the poetry of Medellín for the world has been the conjunction of ninety poets from forty countries in every continent, and crowds recovering what is taken from them by the noise of the world: the voice of poetry as an energy that joins and fructifies in the renewal of the collective soul, open to a new spring of life.
The twenty-fifth Festival, held on July 11 to 18, 2015, revealed how essential this event has become for the life of a community that has shown great proofs of resistance in the face of a tough reality imposing conflict and violence.
We celebrated twenty-five years of an experience that has meant, for the city of Medellín, the acquisition of a spiritual and cultural environment enriched by a great world chorus of poetic voices.
The Festival is already an organic part of a collective awareness which lucidly assimilates the urgency of the change required at all levels, now more than ever, when the great problems that put us to the test require a peremptory transformation of all aspects of our lives.
A great human stream attended the opening on July 11, 2015 at the Parque de los deseos, an open site where approximately six thousand people were in attendance. That great opening marked the favorable wind for this ship loaded with revelations, visions, dreams and testimonies that is poetry at the great port that is the heart of a community and the love of a city’s denizens.
There was confirmed the importance of poetry in the life of a large population of youths that significantly increased this year. This is essential and in accordance with the need to deepen the intergenerational dialogue in which new generations of poets can be heard alongside the new generations of people who, together with the poets, renew the air of the social, spiritual and cultural life, giving it a vital impetus of song and celebration as engines for peace-building coexistence.
A magical, many-faceted kaleidoscope in the midst of the collective festive mood arising from knowing one is a part of the creation of an atmosphere where words, listening and human sensitivity intermingled and became a sign of cohesion, an embracing and protective sky.
It was proved that poetry is, in reality, what is always being done for all. Poets are essential because there lies in their power the poem condensed into voice and song; but the poem remains thanks to the spiritual power and kindheartedness of a qualified crowd that consolidates it and turns it into the living language of thousands of people, into an experience that has gravitated on the collective awareness for twenty-five years.
It is very satisfying to realize that, at the Festival’s current age, there can be already observed the new generations naturally incorporated to it – to the movement of the poetic word, which is foundational every time and renewed in the face of the urgencies of a history that is in the eye of the hurricane of conflict.
The 25th Festival proved itself to be a sovereign performance of the desire for peace, standing as a song, as a choir of the world’s voices.
“Peace will burst upon the Earth like a sun” was the Festival’s motto, summing up the dream whose substance has been all this movement for peace since its creation in 1991.
This Festival has been revealed to the world like a sun of peace – so much so that the shining axis of all its activities has been the summoning of peace and reconciliation for Colombia.
This Festival in itself has been a true practice of peace. The great miracle of poetry is that it enables practicing the anticipation of what will come for a whole population, for a whole country peremptorily calling for the radical ceasing of all forms of violence and war.
Of sixty years of conflict in the face of the horror of fratricide war, the last twenty-five have been filled with the poetry of crowds, with a spirit that was not in the script of the warlords and that is the glorious path walked by a community that has become the most knowledgeable about living contemporary poetry and that is also in the vanguard of the communities contributing to the globalization of poetry actions, so as to protect itself and nobly face up to the discourse of capitalist globalization that turns everything into sellable and abhorrent matter, causing with its crises and wars the genocide of hundreds of millions.
The shining axis of this Festival was peace for Colombia, and all its activities were structured around peace as an actual, urgent and necessary experience in which the participation of poets, artists and all persons connected to urgent cultural change is essential, because an awareness tied to the cause of conflict will go on if there is no transformation of a collective consciousness affected by war.
The intervention of the 25th Festival blossomed into a relevant contribution to an atmosphere favorable to peace and reconciliation, through the articulate development of its different components, realized in 180 activities. This has been one of the Festivals most enriched by new aspects that are signs of the evolution and richness of this process which is already a protagonist, in its field, of the transformations in defense of Earth and of world peace.
From this viewpoint, let us remember each of the Festival’s aspects:
Poetry readings. 120 poetry readings were held. The Festival took place in closed and open-air venues, streets, parks, popular neighborhoods and displaced person camps, universities, libraries, theatres, union and cooperative headquarters, cultural centers, shopping malls and museums, both in the city of Medellín and its suburbs and districts of its Metropolitan Area. There were also readings in conference halls in four Colombian cities. These readings were of two types: readings by groups of three to five poets, and individual readings with dialogues or conversations between the poets and the audience.
These were the essence and the core activities that enriched the sense of a quarter-century’s trajectory of significant contribution of a renewed sensitivity, urgently present in the life of a whole community through the destiny of a war-free country, with healed wounds and facing a future sustained by a new valuation of everything that was formerly chaotic and is now worthy of new sense and meaning.
Medellín was strongly reaffirmed as a great symbol of world peace. A practice of peace where the great contribution lies in the transformation of the affected language and cultures, wounded by conflicts, violence and the excessive colonialism of propaganda, through a radiant language that detoxes a community from permanent exposure to the poison of false, hollow and harmful messages that fetter expression.
The language to which the great crowd of the Festival has access (with much reciprocity in the soul, heart and anticipation of a country that will overcome its woes) is the shining and sovereign language of world poetry, exercising its spell that enables the vision of the road of great shivers for essential transformations.
II World Poetry Summit for Peace
and Reconciliation in Colombia
It was launched on July 13 with a poetry reading attended by some five hundred people. On July 14, 15 and 16 there was full development of 30 activities. The Summit proposed an essential issue for the Havana peace dialogues: poetry, art and culture as rebuilders of a culture wounded by war.
The themes of the Summit for Peace and Reconciliation were the following: The tasks of poetry and art in the creation of peace for a new language and culture; Poetry and art: the defense of the earth and of living beings; and Poetry and the realizable impossible: global actions for transforming life.
The attending poets represented different cultures and contributed their experience in their own countries, affected by conflicts similar to the Colombian one and often overcome, as in South Africa, Ireland and El Salvador. Human rights defenders, academics, political scientists, environmentalists and cultural promoters enriched the discussions and proposals in dialogue with the Summit’s guest poets.
It was a vital and essential experience in Colombia’s current history and urgent need for a just and enduring peace.
A relevant declaration issued from this summit and the attending poets, who stated the following: “Poetry and art can transform pain and tragedy suffered into memory and strength to assert life and defeat death’s tricks. Readiness to transform the wounds inflicted on Colombia by injustice and warfare pledge us all to a reflection on this sickness, but also to recognize what we were before contracting it and what we may become after overcoming it. If we affirm unhesitatingly that poetry is a realized impossible, peace should be a realizable impossible. That realizable impossible will again put in our eyes the country they haven’t allowed to be.”
This year the Festival has provided the context for a significant number of meetings which, coherently articulated, gave great spiritual and poetical consistency to the attendance of the poets from all over the world who visited us and successfully fulfilled their mission for this year: to keep the fire of peace and reconciliation alive and burning with the uniting force of poetry.
I International Meeting of Young Poets
On July 12 and 13 there was held the I International Meeting of Young Poets within the context of the 25th Medellín International Poetry Festival.
This was an integrational experience of valuation, recognition and reaffirmation of the essential contributions which the new generations make with a new breath and oxygen giving consistency, strength and scope to the renewing fire of poetry, in the present and future world.
The convergence of 22 young poets from 13 countries, invited to the 25th Medellín International Poetry Festival, blossomed into an intermingling and consolidation of local and world poetry actions to be developed jointly. There was achieved the articulation of the world’s young poets through the World Poetry Movement, WPM.
From this meeting there arose a relevant declaration, from which we quote:
“We consider that poetry, as an extension of thought and sensitivity, can contribute to a change of light in our perception of the world and specifically in the way of assuming the world. Each participant shall contribute the experience of his or her respective country.”
Complete Declaration in Spanish
I International Meeting of Poetry
School and Workshop Directors
This was another of the relevant meetings of the 25th issue of the Festival. It was held in two sessions, on July 12 and 13, with the attendance of poets Ayo Ayoola-Amale (Nigeria), Gabriel Chávez Casazola (Bolivia), Manipiniktikinia (Tule-Kuna nation, Panama), Javier Naranjo (Colombia), Katharine Coles (United States), Jesús David Curbelo (Cuba) and Juan Manuel Roca (Colombia). Each of them gave a lecture about his or her experience with the formative projection of poetry. This event has been a great contribution benefiting the poetry workshop directors of the city of Medellín, who engaged in a constructive exchange about their experiences.
Each of the lecturing poets subsequently pledged his or her contribution to the consolidation of a World Poetry School as a training action line of the World Poetry Movement (WPM).
Another important meeting was the launching of the First World Poetry Meeting of Native Peoples – Colorful Voices for Mother Earth. There attended the poets Lindantonella Solano (Wayuu Nation, Colombia), Kalu Tayisavi (Savi Nation, Mexico), Hugo Jamioy (Kamsá Nation, Colombia), Marry A. Somby (Sami Nation, Norway), Fredy Chikangana (Yanacona Nation, Colombia), Natalio Hernández (Nahuatl Nation, Mexico), Samuel Wagan Watson (Australia), Juan Gregorio Regino (Mazatec Nation, Mexico). Launching of the World Poetry Meeting of Native Peoples – Colorful Voices for Mother Earth (Mexico, 2016).
This meeting promoted an artistic movement that will make humankind more sensitive, summoning the different poetical expressions of native peoples to “a world meeting of colorful voices”, according to the promotors. The meeting will be attended by 80 poets from 20 countries, who will read in over 30 languages. This is not a problem, according to member of the organizing committee Natalio Hernández, because “an intermingling of languages that bring us together” will be created. “(The languages) lead to the same purpose: to bring us closer to Mother Earth with voices and songs,” he added.
Press Release In Spanish
Meeting of Coordinators of the World Poetry Movement
Attended by the following poets: Umar Timol (Mauritius), Moëz Majed (Tunisia), Ayo Ayoola-Amale (Nigeria), Augusto Rodríguez (Ecuador), Oscar Saavedra Villarroel (Chile), Fernando Rendón (Colombia), Hanan Awwad (Palestine), Ataol Behramoglu (Turkey), Dinos Siotis (Greece), Mite Stefoski (Macedonia), Marko Pogačar (Croatia).
This was a very relevant meeting for the cohesion of the different world poetry projects. This event hit the mark in having the young poets and the poetry school and workshop directors explicitly join its actions, thus giving more strength, consistency and permanence to the group of global poetry actions.
We can also affirm that this event fulfilled the strategies of the world poetry movement for achieving its aims, which are the following:
- To act on the basis of poetry on the world’s peoples, in each continent and country, to vigorously help conquer peace, social justice, and the cultural, social and political transformations required by our country.
- To extend the influence and presence of the International Poetry Festivals that make up the World Poetry Movement, and extend the influence of poetry to all social classes, through a growing intervention in the life of cities and villages, with a work addressed especially to youths, teens and children.
- To employ the mass media in large scale to expand the spirit of poetry and a fair and luminous vision of the human future.
- To strengthen and found pedagogic processes on the basis of the Poetry Schools and Workshops.
- To organize poetry readings, dialogues, conferences, and film showings on the issues of poetry and social change, at the city and the country’s social and popular organizations, highlighting the environmental objectives, the defense of cultural rights and the struggle for peace and social transformation in our countries.
- To raise the aesthetic quality of the festivals that make up the World Poetry Movement.
In this 25th Medellín International Poetry Festival, pedagogic poetry actions were performed which were explicitly training in nature; these were structured around poetry creation. In this field of training actions there took place the 19th Medellín Poetry School, consisting of thirty activities: courses, workshops and conferences where different issues were approached, with poetry as the guiding thread. Also held were several creative writing workshops which yielded relevant results, materialized in texts produced by the attendees. The poets were in charge of these activities and planned, designed and executed them to be shared with those interested in knowing more about the issues approached. Addressed to students, teachers, poets, children, cultural managers, poetry creation workshop teachers, and people from underprivileged neighborhoods who have not had access to alternative forms of education and culture. The population benefiting from the School’s activities are a part of the heterogeneous population group of the Festival.
Readings and workshops of Gulliver Project
This set of activities was a unique and rewarding experience which involved the world poets visiting ten underprivileged locations in the city, where the creative writing Gulliver Project, aimed at children aged 9 to 12, is taking place.
These interventions by the poets with their poetry readings and workshops for children were an innovative success, enabling children to read their poetical creations, written during the first semester, to the community.
These interventions gave a voice to children, who showed that childhood can make a significant contribution to social transformation, through cultural and spiritual growth.
(Child participation at Summit Spanish)
Publishing, dissemination and communications line
This line of action was and is essential; its intervention in the Festival’s geographical context was prepared and started being executed ten months before the Festival. It consisted in the publication of the report of the 25th Festival, corresponding to two issues, 102 and 103, of Prometeo Poetry Magazine (which has organized the event since its creation) and the publication of the books “Lo imposible realizado” (history of the Festival’s 25 years -Spanish- and the anthology with poems by 230 poets from 155 countries, who have taken part in the festival since its creation Entre presencias visibles e invisibles -Spanish-.
This publishing action required careful work relating to the selection and translation of works by the participant poets; for this purpose, a qualified team of skilled poetry translators was created; these are usually poets with great experience in this area. This line of action also involved the conception, design, edition, manufacture and printing of all the dissemination materials, consisting of 180,000 booklets with the event’s schedule.
@poesiamedellin / @GulliverPoesia
facebook.com/festivalpoesiamed / 114.000 followers
Linkedin: Corporación Prometeo
Another aspect in this Festival line of action is the communications area, requiring great dedication with regard to the distribution of the relevant information. From this viewpoint, there must be highlighted the prior, simultaneous and later work carried out through the website, which is the convergence core of thought and poetry and where the essays and ideas of the guest poets are published.
The media coverage of the event in 17 countries is gathered here.
As may be observed, this Festival line of action has always been essential, because it is the vehicle of the call which has always been multitudinously answered.
Thus, the 25th Medellin International Poetry Festival achieved the following goals:
- Encouraging attendees to keep participating in the Festival every year, and in the ongoing activities during the year.
- Multitudinous and very qualified collective participation.
- Significant participation in pedagogic projection activities.
- Quality of the guest poets.
- Great quality of the translations from foreign languages into Spanish.
- The role of the translation readers exceeded expectations and was a positive contribution.
- Improvement in Festival reports for future dissemination and pedagogic applications.
- Improvement in the Festival’s dissemination strategies.
- Improvement in the dialogue and understanding between the world’s native people poets and poets who are not representatives of native peoples, as well as with the whole audience.
- Consolidated permanence of pedagogic activities addressed to people who said in the survey that they would continue with the ongoing training processes after the Festival.
- Internationalization of Medellín as a cultural convergence and irradiation pole, aimed at the construction of a new humanism.
- Achievement of the goal of globalization of poetry actions.
- Positioning of the city of Medellín as epicenter of the World Poetry Movement (WPM).
- WPM has been positioned as a leader, making consistent progress in the integration of world poetry projects.
Mayor of Medellin, Ministry of Culture of Colombia, Real Embassy of Norway, Zhongkun Foundation to Development of Poetry, Alta Mane Foundation Italy and Alta Mane Ginebra, Confiar Cooperativa Financiera, Municipality of Envigado, EPM, Cultures of Resistance Network, Prince Claus Fund, Ministry of Culture of Egypt, Ministry of Culture of Moldavia, Embassy of Argentina, Embassy of Mexico; Embassy of Turkey, Culture Ireland, NORLA, Ministtry of Culture of Macedonia, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Instituto de Cultura y Patrimonio de Antioquia, Embassy of Palestina, Telemedellín, Coofinep Cooperativa Financiera, among other entities.
As mentioned by Argentine poet Eduardo Dalter, who attended this edition of the Festival: “The greatest potential of the Medellín International Poetry Festival is surely that people in this populous Colombian city consider it admirably and deeply human, and feel it as their own. People of all ages rendezvousing at downtown squares, conference halls and neighborhood cultural centers in their thousands, to listen to the poets in their poems and in their impassioned speeches in favor of humanity and peace.
… An alert people, who in this sweltering July welcomed in their Festival 90 renowned poets from 40 nations, who day after day streamed through the city and the neighborhoods’ cultural centers to recite their poems, within a schedule everyone thought accurate and admirable. To build peace with poems, with examples, with crowds, is truly a good news that we must disseminate throughout the world.”
Published at August 26th, 2015