Poetry in Motion

LAST UPDATED: 27 May, 2007 @ 08:49
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poetryweb.jpgGranada’s International Poetry festival revs into its fourth year with novel ways of promoting the event

VERSE will be reeled on wheels over the coming week as Granada’s fleet of urban buses circulate decorated with poetic sentiments. This innovative move is to promote the city’s Fourth International Poetry festival, which has also been publicised with “poetry by post,” as 100,000 residents received postcards with verses penned by the Asturian poet, Ángel González.
In addition, those navigating the city by foot will be handed poems by the celebrated Granadina, Elena Martín Vivaldi.

As the city comes alive with words, we are reminded that poetry, like all else in Granada, has been shaped and enriched by history. The anguish of civil war, the suffering of poverty, the persecution of gypsies, the legacy of Moorish rule and inspiration of beauty – both natural and manmade – all contribute to a rich poetic back catalogue.

Unfortunately, the tradition has not always been celebrated. Famously, García Lorca, the globally acclaimed Spanish poet, was persecuted for being homosexual, finally shot dead during the Civil War and left in an unmarked mass grave. A popular renaissance of García Lorca’s work is now focusing on Granada as a city of literary importance- something the festival aims to foster.

The event also coincides with the centenary of the birth of Elena Martín Vivaldi, another revered poet native to Granada. A contemporary of – but not strictly included in – the Generación de 27 (referring to the creative movement of the late 1920s), Elena Martín lived until 1998 and was known for her intense, melancholy verses. Among her most famous works are La Lluvia en el Insomnio, (Rain in Insomnia) which begins: “You rain, by night, you rain demanding my attention” and Y 14, (And 14) containing the line: “Today only shadows struggle in my mind”.

Far from being exclusively a celebration of Granada’s poetic wealth, 15 artists from 11 countries are also included. The festival opened with evocative readings from the Romanian poet Ana Blandiana and the Israeli Shlomo Avayou and continues with events involving poets from around the world, including the previous years’ winners of the Federico García Lorca International Poetry Prize.

Of course the spirit of Federico will be present throughout the festival and the highlight on May 8 will take place in la Huerta de San Vicente, the summer residence of the García Lorca family. This event will involve readings from Argentine poet, Juan Gelman accompanied by the flamenco artist, Enrique Morente – such a fusion of flamenco and poetry is highly characteristic of poetic art of this region, yet is practiced and admired all over the Hispanic world.
Gelman is considered to be one of the greatest living poets and certainly Argentina’s giant of contemporary literature. It may be unwise to remove poetry from its native language but here is a taster of Juan Gelman’s poem La Extranjera (the foreigner)

“The foreigner doesn’t know
that her blood is her house, that
all her birds
can only sing there and open
wings to her summer and pounce
reach, launch, rise,
like a thirst for the world
that you cannot turn off.”

Poetry provides an opportunity to experience language at its most creative and appealing and Granada’s finest locations will be the stage for such inspiration until May 10.
Visit www.festivaldepoesiadegranada.com for the festival programme and www.juangelman.com for works by Juan Gelman.

Lisa Tilley

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