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13th World Poetry Festival opens in Caracas

Published:Wednesday | June 29, 2016 | 6:00 AMMel Cooke
Yashika Graham

The 13th World Poetry Festival opened on Sunday evening in Caracas, Venezuela, on the scale and with a diversity of verse justifying its name. A large, attentive and appreciative audience gathered in the expansive Sala Rios Reyna Teatro Teresa Carreno for a programme which flowed seamlessly through opening and closing poetry by Venezuelans Juan Calzadilla and Tarek William Saab, respectively, with numerous nationalities in-between.

A brief announcement was reserved for after an intertwining of the sung and spoken word for over 90 minutes, when the writers lined up across the stage. The tone of the music by a band and two singers was appropriate, and there was some music by poets as well.

So Maria Sharupi of Ecuador entered the stage, bounding from one leg to the next as she approached the microphone, making the bells around her waist tinkle.

Another poet accompanied herself with a drum played with one hand, alternately singing and speaking.

 

TRANSLATIONS PROVIDED

 

As each poet did their work in their language, where required, translations into Spanish were projected behind the writers. It also served as an introduction of the writers, with each person's name and nationality preceding their entry to the stage.

Among the countries identified were Uganda (represented by Juliane Okot Bitek), Palestine (Ghassan Zaqtan), Italy (Stefano Strazzabosco), China (Mindy Zhang), Northern Ireland (Lorna Shaughnessy), South Africa (Keorapetse Kgotsile) and Canada (Rita Mestokosho), along with Vietnam (Nguyen Pham Que) and Gambia (Alhaji Papa Susso).

Other nationalities are involved in the 13th World Festival of Poetry, among them Jamaica's Yashika Graham and Barbados' Winston Farrell from the English-speaking Caribbean.

The weeklong festival invokes readings at theatres, libraries, schools, parks and other venues across Caracas. Additionally, poets will be deployed by ground and air transportation to other parts of the country for readings and interaction with community members. Throughout the activities, poets from Venezuela are participating in readings along with poets from other countries.

Figures give an indication of the festival's scale - there are five continents and 39 countries represented, with 138 Venezuelan poets along with 48 from other nations. Each day has a full slate of multiple events, culminating each evening with a main event at the Teatro Bolivar in Caracas.

The festival closes officially on Saturday afternoon at the Lugar Teatro Municipal, also in Caracas.