Poets not only use language, but frequently change it. In this year’s poetry event, we will focus on the idea of language for the individual as well as for the social contexts we inhabit with the use of our language. We would like to examine the significance of language as a tool of nation building in the post-colonial context and to observe how, over time, languages have been changed dramatically to extraordinary degrees by their users to form something new, consequently altering the very parameters of owning a language. We celebrate the ways in which poets all over the world reinvent language to express new ideas and insights, often provoking change and reflection. Through the genre of poetry, we offer a comparative analysis regarding its importance for cultural identity and change.



Readings and performances of poets from different countries and backgrounds are the spine of the festival. It is their work through which we will study the ideas of language and its importance for individual and national identities in the past, the present, and in the future. We will explore the different approaches in different countries and social communities. There will also be panel discussions with academics, workshops with students and translators to look at the topic from different angles. We will encourage discussions among poets, visual artists, dancers and composers about their ideas and use of language.

The programme will thus also focus on the experience of colonialism and post- colonialism in South Africa and elsewhere and allow poets and experts from other countries to share their experiences.



What is Poetry? is a campaign that aims to enrich the global cultural landscape by means of poetic and intellectual exchange in different areas of the world on an annual basis. We continue our dialogue beyond the festival itself through social media, our website, translations, meetings and scholarly research. The partners of the festival are high profile institutions which are also looking for a long-term project that explores and challenges cultural ideas and productions and builds up a network of decisive, meaningful influence on shaping the future.

An anthology will be published with poems by all the participating poets in their original languages, accompanied by translations into English. The topics and outcomes of the discussions and workshops as well as all news and thoughts related to the tour will also be included in this publication. We think this will enable further discussion and exploration for further meetings and events.


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