Visiting Versopolis abroad

After having selected eleven Austrian poets for the Versopolis platform and after having staged three Literatur & Wein festivals with altogether fifteen international Versopolis poets it was a reward to have the opportunity to visit a partner festival and to see which Versopolis poets they chose and how they did.

I decided for the world’s oldest poetry festival, i.e. „Struga Poetry Evenings“, which this year took place for the 56th time. It was a nice surprise to learn from the programme that the organizers decided to choose five female Versopolis poets to read at their festival.

Well, I knew from before that the Austrian Maria Seisenbacher was invited as I had the pleasure to deliver her the good news.

We had chosen Maria Seisenbacher as one of three Austrian poets for the third Versopolis year. Her poems taken from the books „Ruhig sitzen mit festen Schuhen“ („Sitting still in sensible Shoes“, Edition Atelier 2015), „bher[∂]“ (Edition Yara, 2012) and „Kalben“ (unpublished) were – like the following one – all carefully translated by Renée von Paschen:

behind the ear / right behind it / little phrases itch / which have / fallen between bed and wall // on those / crack-in-the-door days / rays of light fall / through vestibules / interrupting us

 

I was very delighted to meet again the Polish poet Krystyna Dąbrowska, whom we had invited to our festival in Krems in April 2015. And I was very pleased to hear my favourite poem titled „Travel Agency“ with the brilliant „opener“ again:

I am a travel agency for the dead / I book them flights to the dreams of the living (translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)

 

The other three poets so far I only knew from the Versopolis webpage, but it was worth listening to them and to get to know them personally.

 

Nunduran Duran is a Turkish poet and lives in Istanbul. She is a poet who very much loves nature as you may tell from the start of her poem „The River“:

Is it the birds rush / or do the clouds dance? / The surface is frosted glass (translated by Karen McCarthy Woolf)

 

I was deeply impressed by the way how Belgian poet Maud Vanhauwaert presented her poems, no wonder that she was the finalist in the World Championship of Poetry Slam in 2012. The topics of her poems made a deep impact on me as well. For example, her poem „Sound System“ she wrote after she attended a woman’s funeral and met her husband, who told her that he had been terribly upset about the sound system.

… // Her lying there, the church packed / even though she’d never been religious, / someone had come all the way from Germany – as I heard later, / the neatly-ironed trousers, / her son had even bought new shoes for the occasion, / lots and lots of flowers, / and the way the sound system. // … (translated by David Colmer)   

  

And finally I was very happy to get to know Kim Moore from United Kingdom, who had been working for thirteen years as a trumpet teacher for Cumbria Music Service and now is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her teaching experiences she put into great poetry – „The Trumpet Teacher’s Curse“ – by recalling the strangest things that happened to her in the course of these thirteen years:

… // a curse on the boy who dropped a pencil / on the bell of his trombone to see if it did / what I said it would, a curse on the girl / who stuffed a pompom down her cornet / and then said it was her invisible friend who did it, //

 

I had the pleasure to listen to all of them several times during the festival and also had time to talk to them in person. Thanks to VERSOPOLIS and thanks to Struga Poetry Evenings my (literary) world once more has become bigger.

 

After having selected eleven Austrian poets for the Versopolis platform and after having staged three Literatur & Wein festivals with altogether fifteen international Versopolis poets it was a reward to have the opportunity to visit a partner festival and to see which Versopolis poets they chose and how they did.

I decided for the world’s oldest poetry festival, i.e. „Struga Poetry Evenings“, which this year took place for the 56th time. It was a nice surprise to learn from the programme that the organizers decided to choose five female Versopolis poets to read at their festival.

Well, I knew from before that the Austrian Maria Seisenbacher was invited as I had the pleasure to deliver her the good news.

We had chosen Maria Seisenbacher as one of three Austrian poets for the third Versopolis year. Her poems taken from the books „Ruhig sitzen mit festen Schuhen“ („Sitting still in sensible Shoes“, Edition Atelier 2015), „bher[∂]“ (Edition Yara, 2012) and „Kalben“ (unpublished) were – like the following one – all carefully translated by Renée von Paschen:

behind the ear / right behind it / little phrases itch / which have / fallen between bed and wall // on those / crack-in-the-door days / rays of light fall / through vestibules / interrupting us

 

I was very delighted to meet again the Polish poet Krystyna Dąbrowska, whom we had invited to our festival in Krems in April 2015. And I was very pleased to hear my favourite poem titled „Travel Agency“ with the brilliant „opener“ again:

I am a travel agency for the dead / I book them flights to the dreams of the living (translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)

 

The other three poets so far I only knew from the Versopolis webpage, but it was worth listening to them and to get to know them personally.

 

Nunduran Duran is a Turkish poet and lives in Istanbul. She is a poet who very much loves nature as you may tell from the start of her poem „The River“:

Is it the birds rush / or do the clouds dance? / The surface is frosted glass (translated by Karen McCarthy Woolf)

 

I was deeply impressed by the way how Belgian poet Maud Vanhauwaert presented her poems, no wonder that she was the finalist in the World Championship of Poetry Slam in 2012. The topics of her poems made a deep impact on me as well. For example, her poem „Sound System“ she wrote after she attended a woman’s funeral and met her husband, who told her that he had been terribly upset about the sound system.

… // Her lying there, the church packed / even though she’d never been religious, / someone had come all the way from Germany – as I heard later, / the neatly-ironed trousers, / her son had even bought new shoes for the occasion, / lots and lots of flowers, / and the way the sound system. // … (translated by David Colmer)   

  

And finally I was very happy to get to know Kim Moore from United Kingdom, who had been working for thirteen years as a trumpet teacher for Cumbria Music Service and now is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her teaching experiences she put into great poetry – „The Trumpet Teacher’s Curse“ – by recalling the strangest things that happened to her in the course of these thirteen years:

… // a curse on the boy who dropped a pencil / on the bell of his trombone to see if it did / what I said it would, a curse on the girl / who stuffed a pompom down her cornet / and then said it was her invisible friend who did it, //

 

I had the pleasure to listen to all of them several times during the festival and also had time to talk to them in person. Thanks to VERSOPOLIS and thanks to Struga Poetry Evenings my (literary) world once more has become bigger.

 

By Wolfgang Kühn

 

Photos from the top:

Krystyna Dąbrowska (Poland) and Nunduran Duran (Turkey) somehow relaxing from poetry readings

Wolfgang Kühn (Austrian VERSOPOLIS coordinator) and Nunduran Duran (Turkey) on a boat ride

Maria Seisenbacher reading in the Monastery of Our Lady in Kališta