The Gateway to Europe

21 AUGUST 2014 by Poetry International

Because the Poetry International spans many continents and languages, it’s easy to forget that it all began in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. In 1970 the first Poetry International festival took place, and to this day the Poetry International Foundation maintains offices in the city’s heart.

Recently Poetry International’s founding director Martin Mooij passed away, and in his honour we’re taking a poetic look at the city in which he was born and died, and from which Poetry International continues to publish poetry, host international events, and build networks between poets, translators, and editors around the world.

At Poetry International’s recommendation, the Turkish poet Roni Margulies was a writer in residence in Rotterdam South this year. His performance at the 2014 Poetry International Festival concluded his residency. Margulies is fascinated by the past. Themes of identity, migration, borders, language, and oppression also recur in his work. Subtle, and in clear language, he writes about major events through small observations. With eyes and ears open, this nearly photographic observer took away his impressions of Rotterdam in poetry. What strikes him about the port city? You can find out by reading the poems he wrote during his stay:

‘Ancient River’
‘Begane Grond’
‘Below Sea Level’
‘Burca, Yonca and Defne’
‘The Magpie’
‘SS Rotterdam’

You can also read the selection of poetry we’ve made from our ever-growing archives, in which Rotterdam plays a central role. We’ll be featuring the following poems all this week:

‘Rotterdam’ by Damir Šodan (Croatia)
‘Rotterdam Journal’ by Joseph Brodsky (Russia)
‘Europe in Rotterdam’ by Nuno Júdice (Portugal)
‘For Martin Mooij’ by Allen Ginsberg (USA)
‘Tulip’s Ear’ by Kazuko Shiraishi (Japan)
‘Ports’ by Paul Farley (UK)
‘Hotel Central’ by Natalka Bilotserkivets (Ukraine)
‘The Old Masters’ by Maura Dooley (UK)

This selection includes a photographic reproduction of ‘For Martin Mooij’, handwritten by Allen Ginsberg in 1979, and ‘Tulip’s Ear’ by Kazuko Shiraishi, which is also our Video of the Week. We hope you enjoy this small glimpse of Poetry International’s ‘home town’, so dear to its late founder, and that it inspires you to discover the many other cities and places, all around the world, that are represented here on this website.


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audio of the day
Maura Dooley - United Kingdom
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video of the week
Kazuko Shiraishi - Japan
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