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70 Days Of Poetry At The Helm Of The World

Por: Fernando Rendón

Three decades of the International Poetry Festival of Medellin

 

Poetry In The Face Of Terror

 

For more than two centuries, Colombia has suffered endless periods of terror: 45 civil wars, genocide and assassinations, massacres, targeted assassinations of opponents, violent expropriations and the displacement of millions with enormous concentrations of power and land in a few hands, as in many nations. These events are marked by a succession of totalitarian masks. Generations of families have become owners of the State, oiling a war machine against the people who resist; and subjecting it to extreme conditions of poverty and misery, illiteracy, chronic unemployment and unsanitary conditions, as happens in many countries. Evil is universal, though remediable. A river of debris has dragged a million dead for more than half a century. Social decomposition, that is the consequence of an unjust system in a perpetual process of decay, resulted into drug trafficking sectors permeating the State, and undermining it, as happened in Medellin in 1991, when the mafia sowed bombs in the city at about the same time when the International Festival of Poetry of Medellin was founded. And the war continues.

Poetry springs from the lips of the voiceless in the midst of the conflagration; it shows the pain of the people that have been violated throughout the world.  The poetry movement which flourished in Medellin is a response to local and universal terror. Poetry calls to take to the streets and squares en masse to listen to the songs that flow in hundreds of places across the Earth, noting that the world is one: Humanity is the sister, torture and suffering is global, and poetry that contributes to mobilize the people it is also a medicine that mitigates pain. Poetry is the secret plant of the spirit spreading along the avenues, in open and closed spaces, and today within the vast territories of the digital universe. As stated by the English poet Richard Berengarten in his text "Gathering and Togethering": Medellin has reaffirmed that poetry, as something that is rooted deep in imagination, is a key element for human freedom.

 

 

Poetry Is The Expression Of A Universal Law

Nature is governed by laws. Poetry is the manifestation of the Universe and the seasons, the elements and the shapes of nature. It is immersed within the infinite expressions of all living beings. Primitive communities were guided by poetry, as it is expressed in the ancestral songs and dances, in traditional medicine and rudimentary procedures of prehistoric man.  The heart of poetry beats on people and among nations of the earth since its origins. Their original traditions and legends are preserved. The tree of mythic poetry offers us its fruits of the future. Almost 1,700 poets from 175 nations have participated in the Medellin International Poetry Festival Poetry is a core element of every culture in the world, Richard Berengarten. Poets have sung, read and expressed their poems in about one hundred languages, accompanying the Colombian people in the outcome of their heroic resistance, filled with complete confidence in peace, poetic justice and the splendor of truth. Poetry exposes that the persistent struggle for the victory of light is being waged at this time in all places, under the sky that revolves over the peoples who love peace and life.

 

 

Done The Impossible

The 1st Medellin International Poetry Festival was created with nearly non-existing resources, using the public phone booths, at a bar where a group of friends (that just appear out of nowhere) met at the end of the last century to celebrate the poetic brotherhood and the spirit of existence, in the midst of the deafening noise of the bombs and bullets. It grew up in the wilderness of the helplessness of Medellin life, in the midst of the desolation and despair that was felt in the country and the world. It refused to inherit the resignation as a result of defeat, the deleterious nihilism, the buffoonish skepticism and the competitive individualism, thereby assuming its own principle based on courage to face death with dignity, to help put an end to the extermination campaign and human annihilation. From the beginning, we disbelieved in the siren songs of doom, since poetry participates in the movement of reordering energies destined to shed the mask of chaos. As Saint-John Perse wrote:  It is not true that life can renounce itself. Poetic language is based on this certainty. Dreaming is also deciphering all forms of death and creating new life drives. Death demands self-denial and sacrifice from life. Life wisely flourishes from the fertilized fields of death.

Over three decades, poetry underwent an ongoing accumulation in Medellin, a permanent spread in the areas of the spirit. The Festival resisted financial blockades and official threats, legal prosecution, the anti-propaganda by the media and to the pressure exerted by hostile forces towards life and culture. Most of the greatest contemporary poets were present at the event. In 2011, the World Poetry Movement germinated in this city, to encourage poetry in the human spirit, allowing for dialogue, the confluence of poets and the gradual articulation of contemporary poetic projects. Dozens of Festivals from all continents were nurtured from this orbital epicenter.

During 2020, when world´s inhabitants were confined by the pandemic and public powers to remain confined to their houses, in the midst of cruelty and by the stormy human history, by reducing life expectancy further, the mutual connection between the world's poets was kindled at its highest level ever.  Thousands of virtual bonfires fanned their flames in the cave of all times.  The Festival celebrated its first 30 years with an unprecedented demonstration: between August 1 and October 10, 200 guests carried out 132 poetry readings and dialogues from 103 countries. 385,000 spectators ("an art for all"), interacted with this conjunction of plural voices, discovering the profound uniqueness of human beings in the old days, in the present and the future. By deploying the latest satellite Internet technology to organize a network of events open and accessible at global during 70 days, Medellin effectively transposed many thousands of those dreams and aspirations of individuals, ancient and modern poets (Richard Berengarten). Poets inherit and express the memory of their ancestors; they are the mirror of their soul in the present and their nostalgia for human attainment. The impossible is fulfilled, poetry displays its work.

 

 

All Poems Are One

 

Ancient anonymous poetry is part of a powerful root. The Iliad and The Odyssey did not spring from Homer's imagination. Oral tradition, cities, language and history are the work of the peoples. The great poem is written by millions of beings. The Epic of Gilgamesh - the first epic poem in literature - is the archaic voice of the mythical explorations of many peoples. Gilgamesh sought the aquatic plant ("urshanabi", the old becomes young *) to lose the fear of death. He wanted to be immortal after eight days mourning the death of his brother Enkidu. He found the thorn plant in the sea, but a snake snatched it from him. Poetry as an expression of the fight against death is the path that nature reveals to humans, the path of invincible brotherhood that proves the impact of the law of a common destiny, protected by the spirit of compromise and by a shared survival vocation against which all risks are assumed. The poems are interlinked, they complement one another, prefigure an organic being; They are made of the dreams and nightmares of all times, they are the sum of all hopes and the burning desire to transcend adversity. The older one becomes young like the Earth and the Universe, by the renewed power of its perception, by language and the renewing action of poetry.

 

 

Poetry Is The Voice Of The Ancestors And The Land

Poetry from Medellín has celebrated the original memory and the inexhaustible beginning of life. Since its foundation, the Festival has summoned and placed primitive songs, ancestral voices and the decision to protect the life of nature and the planet at the center of the people's meeting. We belong to the Earth. Life will flourish again. There will be no more parks in the city with small domestic trees lit by deceptive dim lights. The forests will house the new cities. We will not own the mountains, mountains, rivers, and oceans. We have to be there for each other as parents and their children. We are called to take care of life, since we are life. Poetry is the language of existence; our words cannot deny our only destiny. The legendary traditions of primitive peoples are a living school for humanity. They have taught us caring for the life of all that exists. 

 

 

The Voice Of Our Inheritors

Poetry cannot be taught. It is learned and shared. In more recent history, poetry reaffirms that it is possible to build a habitable universe with the hands, in the hearts, and in our reality. Earth is Mother and is a school to learn how to live again.  Poetry is the custodian of its words and of the principles of the present and the future. The Festival has attracted a wind that blows on the flames of early age, and feeds and preserves the creative spirit. From the first steps of its training, life ascends, consolidating its own paths of freedom and responsibility, developing and caring for its own language. To play is to dream, and to dream is to defend the place where we live, making the imagination, which denies the social reality of death, unfolds a new life in everyone. In the face of the barbaric threat of nuclear war and the destruction of life, maybe poetry the language of the present and future diplomacy? The world will return from its grave to its cradle. Humanity awaits the time for poetry. Poetry is awaiting the time for humanity.

Published on 21.10.2020

Última actualización: 30/10/2020