OPENING SPEECH TO 12TH EDITION OF THE BUENOS AIRES POETRY INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
To celebrate the opening of a poetry festival is as if we saw ourselves acting in a central scene of the Danish movie “Babette’s feast”: each of the members in the organization of this IPF have lovingly prepared, throughout the year, an event in which we had to surmount big difficulties as well as solve minimal details. Such action was taken so that our poets, as the guests to Babette’s feast, may taste in delight those pleasurable delicacies to be found in these encounters. And even when poetry is the actual protagonist, we find the interaction produced by inter-culturality, the different aesthetics, generations and cultures that each f the “diners” will be showing during this five-day poetry feast.
What is poetry? Much has been written trying to provide an answer to such question. From very early past times, ever since the age of troubadours in the 11th century up to this very day. And I cannot really tell if there is a sole valid definition, maybe there are as many as every reader of poetry…
“Poetry -Rimbaud said- wants to change life. It doesn’t mean to embellish life, as the aesthetes and men of letters think, not even to make it fairer or better, as moralists seem to dream. Through the word, through the expression of its experience, poetry tries to make the world a sacred place; with the word it consecrates the experience of men and the relations between man and the world, between man and woman, between man and his own conscience. It does not pretend to embellish, sanctify or idealize what life touches without turning it into a sacred matter. That’s why it is not moral or immoral, fair or unfair, false or truthful, beautiful or ugly. It is simply poetry of solitude and communion. For poetry which is a testimony of ecstasy, of happy love, it is also one of despair. And as it is a prayer it can also be a blasphemy”.
Ricardo Piglia, our recently deceased great narrator, defended poetry while he affirmed that this confronted against the accelerated times society lives today for “it is one of the few spaces where a proper temporality can be established”. And he reminded us that even when Adorno thought poetry could no longer be written after Auschwitz ” that was not the case of Russia and Argentina experience – though both countries had lived their “small” Auschwitz they continued to write poetry”.
“Only poetry has been able to establish extremely slow rhythms as well as fast ones; it bears a unique relation with speed: poetry is on the limit”, Piglia underlined. “Poets are the only ones that make us undergo an experience through the language coming from the change of rhythm. We, narrators, see poets with respect because they work language in its most perfect point. The reading of poetry is an experience we are to recommend. Poets have a sheer indifference about the relation between truth and the majority; poets build communities which seem to be microscopic though they alter basic relations through language. Poets have an ethic, language being the object of their experimentation”.
And of course it is an experience we should recommend: this is what this Festival has been doing throughout these twelve years without any break. To spread the reading of poetry is set forth; seduce new readers, demonstrate that those reading poetry can obtain a deeper and more comprehensive view of the universe, society, culture and human beings.
Poetry makes youngsters fall in love; the one who says he does not read it he hardly knows what he is really speaking about. It is not as massive as the reggaeton, this is somewhat obvious, but it embraces the whole world and it has gained respect from everybody.
The powerful lady shown in our poster, painted by Claudio Roncoli, is that woman who has learned how to conform to these new times, new formats, new ways of saying; this way poetry is part of that encounter with the different arts, cinema, painting, drama, music.
This festival is organized with the enthusiasm of those who believe that this genre is the most powerful; we try to provide those tools for those who had never come close can now use them and do it. We feel every year we get together, we altogether take it closer those unusual spaces –those where it seems impossible to find somebody hearing a line or one stopping to listen to a verse.
We surely won’t change the world even when language must always be subversive. But we would like –through the action of our word- make a request for the disappearance of hunger, that poverty built by spurious powers; we wonder whether we’ll be able to reach peace, make mankind more tolerant about ethnicities, different ideas, public spaces to promote poetry and encounters which must always well kept and defended.
Poetry must never be broken in by the powerful ones; the freedom of poetry is the angel which crosses borders, languages, cultures, and produces that encounter that this Festival –as many others in our own country and the world- means to facilitate: bring the reader and the poet close, bring reading, education and art closer.
All together, dear poets from the provinces now among us -Córdoba, Santiago del Estero, Provincia de Buenos Aires, San Juan, Río Negro as well as this organizing committee within which many of us come from different spots of our country-, and poets coming from Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Holland, Denmark, Turkey, Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay; poets from those countries participating for the first time in our festival, we mean Slovenia, Austria and Finnland, let’s make the best of this five day encounter, let’s turn it into a real feast.
I want to thank wholeheartedly all those embassies that year after year stay with us and let me welcome those three that joined this year-
Before I finish these words, let me give my special thanks and salutation
-To CCK’s director, Mr Gustavo Mozzi, to the producer Ms Juliana Consigli; the coordinator for cutural matters, Mr Leandro Olocco and all their staff and collaborators.
-To Mr Javier Martinez, General Director in the area of Books, Libraries and Reading Promotion in Buenos Aires city government.
-To the Secretary of State Mr Hernán Lombardi, for his unfailing support to poetry and to all the team of workers in the Sistema Federal de Medios y Contenidos Públicos de la Nación (= National System of Media and Public Contents)
And to all the board or committee that has unfailingly worked so that you can all feel now at home. And to my strong, beautiful mother who joined in to be the hostess and chef of the regional dishes with which our SEA shall treat you tomorrow.
MY WARMEST WELCOME, POETS!
Graciela Araoz, June 1t, 2017.-