POETRY SHORT READINGS
Location: Theater Rotterdam - Witte De With - Audit.,
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Five poets will read some of the poems selected for the festival: Alí Calderon (Mexico), Danez Smith (USA), Nora Gomringer (Germany) Maria Stepanova (Russia) and Zeyar Lynn (Burma).
Calderón does not shy away from strong language, not even when it means criticising his own country politically.
Having published six collections, Alí Calderón finds himself at the centre of contemporary Mexican literature – almost literally, as he is the founder and director of the online journal Círculo de Poesía. Aside from a poet, he also is a professor of Mexican literature. Yet his poetry wears its erudition lightly, his predilection for history and classicism seamlessly interwoven with the painful topical issues he tackles. This blend is powerful: in Mexico, critics are often silenced, but Calderón does not shy away from strong language, not even when it means criticising his own country politically.
A poet whom everyone should not only read, but also hear and see.
Convincing, powerful and funny, Danez Smith's poetry speaks to the experience of being a black, queer and poz body in today's America. Always personal, while at the same time political and topical, Smith's work tackles racism, identity, inequality and sexuality. Smith's experience in the spoken-word and slam-poetry scenes ensures that their poetry comes alive on both page and stage, and their persuasive performances often go viral online. A poet who everyone should not only read, but also hear and see.
Her unique style and love of combining art forms have made her one of the best-known poets in Germany.
Though only 38, Nora Gomringer has already built up an impressive oeuvre. Her poems are eclectic and refreshing, using repetition to great effect, but also constructions that are deceptive in their simplicity ("I kiss you/ Kiss me too"). Yet often lurking deeper in the text are heavier themes, such as illness or the Holocaust. And in some poems these themes are even inescapable. Such poems are explicit and visual, such as 'The Girls in Bergen-Belsen'. Gomringer loves the stage, and it shows in her work, too. Her unique style and love of combining art forms have made her one of the best-known poets in Germany.
A liberal voice in a media landscape that is completely under government control.
As a journalist, publisher, free-press activist and poet, Maria Stepanova is one of the best-known cultural figures in today's Russia. Her independent and crowd-funded online journal, Colta, represents a liberal voice in a media landscape that is otherwise completely under government control. Her most recent collection, Spolia, consists of two long poems, both thematically underpinned by the war currently being waged in eastern Ukraine – a civil war, as Stepanova calls it, pitting Ukrainians against Russians. Not only is the current political situation a subject of Stepanova's work, but to a certain extent it also determines its poetic style, resulting in a tone that is fragmented but powerful.
With its treacherous language, its quotations and many references Zeyar Lynn's poetry makes for an exciting, endless scavenger hunt.
Zeyar Lynn is one of the most important and influential people in contemporary Burmese poetry. In a country with a long history of censorship, and a strong poetic tradition, Zeyar Lynn has been introducing contemporary poetry there since the 1990s, particularly as a translator of American L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets. Studying this poetry has also left a great impression on his own work; he has abandoned Burmese traditions and strict 'Khit Por' (modern poetry) to writes poems without a prescribed meaning. With its treacherous language, its quotations, and its many references (to other poets and writers, but also to international historical and political events), Zeyar Lynn's poetry makes for an exciting, endless scavenger hunt.