Julio 8-15, 2017
Balance of The 27th Medellin International Poetry Festival
Building the dreaming country was the emblem and the essence of the 27th International Poetry Festival of Medellin program which was held from 8 to 15 July 2017. In certain places where panic had ruled, and love had been fractured during decades of violence, and for the sake of new gestures of life, the whole community came together with a massive response that confirmed that we move forward to achieve a genuine collective deployment of peace and coexistence through the strength of the poetic word.
With the presence of 110 national and international guests, including 93 poets from 46 nations from all continents, five Alternative Nobel Prize winners, lecturers, workshop facilitators, remarkable singers, actors and musicians, 134 events were held at cultural centers, libraries, in the municipalities of Antioquia, in Nabusímaque and Pueblo Bello (native peoples in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta) and in the so-called transitional post-conflict zones in Arauquita, (Arauca), Ituango and Dabeiba (Antioquia).
The interventions were based on readings of poems, concerts, workshops, lectures, debates and discussions addressed to an increasingly more lucid audience, committed with a profound cultural renewal and the construction of social peace.
Thus, poetry shined as the anticipation of urgent social transformations, such as an active power within the human torrent that has given the best of its renovating spirit, spreading a trail of cultural self-assertion and interpersonal trust. The whole multitude became a hymn and the symbol of the advent of a freer time with the end of our fratricidal war.
Synchronized with the rhythm and progress of the decisive historical moment of the country, The Festival has reaffirmed itself as an emancipating dimension through its convening power and the magnetic strength of our united voices, passing on, in inheritance, our willingness for a change in the aftermath of a long journey of twenty-seven years, walking through a dense jungle of conflicts that have affected the entire populations whose lucidity and self-identification with the poetic word allow them to move towards a new land, the dreaming but the praiseworthy country we have experienced in advance during the Festival as a world based on coexistence in peace, with a creative and hopeful imagination. A country where language has freed itself from its burdens of violence and flows, from one human being to another, renewed and radiant with new visions. A country where social justice is finally a fact, a fulfilled promise. A country in which the healing period, caused by war, has passed. A country where songs, poems, and words may enlighten to the creation of peace, and may prevail on the foundation of a united community that has overcome the wounds of fratricide and can finally be reconciled.
The Festival was also guided by three essential axes:
Guaranteeing the presence of those who are absent: It consisted of the value of memory and the complete vindication of the dignity of the missing people in situations of armed conflict. With this commemoration, The Festival contributed to the construction of the dreaming country: this led to growing social awareness on the belief that there will be no renewal if there is no evidence of a symbolic reparation and support to overcome damages and war traumas. This topic was and will remain essential. Although there were various activities around this theme throughout the week of the Festival, a special day (July 12) was dedicated to the display of events such as poetry readings, conferences, panels and conversations that mobilized contents and many symbolic actions that honored the memory of the disappeared. On that day, a concert was performed in the Plaza Botero to commemorate the victims of enforced disappearance, with the participation of excellent musicians such as Grupo Mar es (Colombia), the Greek singer Savina Yannatou, and Spiros Manesis -piano- (Greece) Baatarkhuu Tumendemberel (Mongolia), and Saidash Begzy Oglu Mongush (Tuva). There were testimonies of relatives of disappeared and an exhibition of photographs of victims. It is important to highlight that a very significant event was held in the municipality of Carmen de Viboral, on July 9, where poets from the world and representatives of victims and their families interacted. There were acts of symbolic reparation, remembering the victims.
The Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth: At a time when we are facing devastation and the whole life of the planet at the border of the extinction, we are contributing to the formative, rapid growth and development of the population´s commitment along with the earthly powers. In this perspective, pedagogical activities such as poetry workshops, poetry readings and lectures raised awareness from the vision of the world's poets and activists who have gone further into the issue, based on knowledge and experience on an important as urgent problem to solve.
Dreaming our America: Further progress was made in the consolidation of Latin American thought through courses and conferences. Latin American thought was consolidated by strengthening self-affirmation and in view of the links from cultural identity to cultural interaction.
The Festival, as a jewel of the spiritual being of the community, was shown to be a dynamic and integrative articulation axis of the diverse edges that emanated light from the radiant marrow of its essence, which is poetry as a purifying fire.
Between those edges or contents of the Festival, the ritual dimension was revealed as the celebration of the sacred of life and the word that unites us. Musicians, playwrights, and poets made possible, with the immense support of the community, an atmosphere of high spiritual sense that refined the collective soul and contributed to the healing of the historical wound that has affected people who have been long eager for a new life freed from the tracks of war.
Another key aspect highlighted at the Festival, was its political dimension, based on the classical concept of the term, this is, politics as "the art of the possible". Consequently, The Festival was able to demonstrate, in practice, that it is possible to transform a hostile atmosphere into a new field of expressions in concert with the fundamental human rights. So, we assume Politics as a gesture of love towards the polis with precise acts of solidarity with those who have been affected by the conflicts; Politics as a set of actions that enable the community to strengthen its self-assertion in order to recover the gifts of its spirit affected by war. In this sense, The Festival has consolidated its commitment to the victims of the conflict, and has facilitated the inclusion of marginalized communities of the city, the department of Antioquia and Colombia within the process of a cultural renewal, encouraging the participation of the artists and poets who are being integrated into civil life through the actions provided for in the Peace Agreements.
Another factor that stood out was the interweaving between poetry and arts such as music and theater, as well as the dialogues between poetic and intellective reasons. These experiences made possible to show the need for spiritual reconciliation and a joint action between poets and artists from various cultural expressions, just as the interchange of forms of thought and poetic forms focused on building the state of a collective mood towards reconciliation and elucidation of the major problems we need to face, for which solutions we can make significant contributions from the Festival.
One of the essential items of our project was the intervention of some poets along with the beneficiary children and adolescents involved in the Gulliver Project, a program in which permanent formative and training activities take place in some popular neighborhoods of Medellin and its metropolitan area. There were interventions with very important effects in the zones where they took place, since the children took on an exemplary cultural leading role, reading the poems they had written during the processes that were developed with them during the first semester of the year, along with the world´s poets invited to the festival. In addition, children and adolescents planted their roots in their collective soul through symbolic actions. These innovative exercises were important because they succeeded on empowering children, teaching them to express feelings in a culturally appropriate way, protecting them from the risks they are exposed. The contributions to cultural growth were evident and exemplary.
An important aspect has been the rapprochement and participation of some social organizations that provided their headquarters to carry out activities such as workshops and conferences related to the problems that these entities address, and are at the core of the present-day context that requires deep approaches and solutions to the latent problems inherent in post-conflict settings implemented with the FARC-EP.
Another fundamental issue was the set of formative activities undertaken in the context of the 21 International School of Poetry of Medellin. This component enabled the poets of the world to intervene, with their invaluable contribution, finding out what is going on with problems of concern to Colombia and global society. There were 37 formative activities, with an equal number of poets, courses, workshops, conferences, panels and conversations, which strengthened and gave depth to the approach to the topics to be discussed during the twenty-seventh version of the Festival.
The presence of four Right Livelihood Award in peace-building, human and environmental rights was another aspect of great importance for the Festival's positive impact on the construction of the dreaming country, since their contributions enriched the contents that were mobilized, regarding the urgent need to transform society, by delving into the axes and themes that the Festival has developed in the present year of 2017.
The Festival was created as an event that gave a very important impulse to the World Poetic Movement (WPM), since with its intervention and global effect, it has become one of the most important points of convergence for the organic movement of poets, poetry festivals and poetic projects all over the world, linked to contribute on the urgent transformations of a planetary consciousness for the benefit on the protection of life on the planet and global peace.
It is necessary to emphasize the two determining factors for the purpose of constructing a state of energetic unity, a hierophany that would not forget the immediate, where the essential cannot be diluted, being this one the big commitment of the guest poets through the gestation of an atmosphere conducive to achieving peace. Their contributions were evident by deepening the collective thinking and the poetic actions as well as for the increasing number of attendees in the events scheduled. An increase in attendance was observed since last year, a very stimulating indicator because it reflects that the processes involved acquire more influence at social level, which motivates us to continue deepening in the spiritual solidarity with the communities of our society that have demonstrated with their assistance and life-giving spirit of rehabilitation and reconciliation that poetic actions aimed at the community have a real positive impact on the creation of a renewed social fabric.
The background of the 27th International Poetry Festival of Medellin was the poetic dimension of peace and reconciliation. This gesture of creating an atmosphere of peace has been the sense of The Festival since its origin and this year has also been strengthened. This opens up new paths that consolidate the purpose of creating a new awareness of the dreaming country, the country that needs to be built with actions of love for life, accompanying the victims and consolidating a stable peace with social justice.
The Festival demonstrated, through its actions, how the interaction between people can be built in a poetic way, when taken in conjunction the celebration of life, on fraternal friendship and in love. We need loving gestures towards the community members and the practice of love through a renewed language, transformed by new cultural referents, and freed from the burden of violence. It is the practice of love. The deep love that embraces diversity.In the words of the Lebanese poet, Hanane Aad:
"They are, the Colombian poets, who first embraced during the 27th International Poetry Festival of Medellin, in a new era in the life of Colombia and in their own lives and those of all their compatriots as well. I believe that the Medellin sky witnessed this year for many days, day and night, a sincere and strong aspiration towards the great values for life for the protection of the bodies and souls of all human beings in the universe. That aspiration was fulfilled in some way in Medellin between July 8 and 15, through the thousands of hands stretched out to the sky confirming their willingness to advance towards peace, beauty and hope against the horrible scents of cannons, death and cruelty. Hands celebrating the miraculous and marvelous intersection among poetry and peace as the only way towards a promising future, the illuminating horizon of serenity where creation, evolution, joy and love are possible and well deserved.
Published at September 11th, 2017