Göteborg poetry festival is a place where contemporary poetry and its audience meet, through which they get a chance to jointly explore what the poetry of our time and times to come are and can be. The festival celebrated its 30th birthday in 2011, making it the oldest poetry festival in Sweden. It emerged in the 80’s from the alternative art scenes of Göteborg, presenting authors like Kathy Acker, Nick Cave and Tomas Tranströmer. In 2006 the present team of curators began working with the festival.
Where is contemporary poetry heading? What is it turning towards and what are the implications of its movements? How is contemporary poetry dealing with questions of activism, resistance, representation and voice? What orders structure the rooms of poetry, and what strategies and ways to take place in them, or make up others, is there?
Themes as ”collectivity” and ”power” have throughout the last six years and within the context of the festival made possible discussions on positions, the subject of poetry, responsibility, the relation between audience and poet(s), the given conditions of poetry and its specific possibilities, boundaries and challenges. Questions we understand as highly relevant for the poetry of our time. Strengthening and encouraging these discussions, providing spaces for them to involve poets as well as listeners and readers, is one of the festivals main assignments. We work thematically to exercise and challenge poetry as a way of thinking, of asking questions, opening up for critical conversations and perspectives on the common as well as the personal life.
Göteborg poetry festival is a place, a context and a situation where poetry can (come to) be under its own conditions and forms. We also multiply these forms. We put an effort into creating a space that allows for a range of different kinds of readings and performances. Our wish is to let every element have its own structure and form, while corresponding with the main theme of the festival. That means the master of ceremony and the presentation of the poets is as an important part of the festival as is the scenography, the folders, the web site.
Göteborg poetry festival is a place for talks and conversations encircling, surrounding and leading into, and out of, poetry. In that way poetry can function as a way of thinking. The festival offers contexts for such a thinking, and asks questions about its political, literary, time-bound terms and stipulations. Therefore the talks and seminars are as important as the readings.
Göteborg poetry festival offers an opportunity for young people to meet poetry and creates a space for young poets to meet each other, and find their own, mutual and contradictory ways into literature. Each year we arrange a competition among young poets – Ung poesi – resulting in an anthology. We also host a workshop during the festival for young people taking an interest in writing.
The festival initiates collaborations, the making of new texts and pieces. We also co-produce some of them. In our invitations to the participating poets we specifically ask for pieces and performances relating to the theme of the year, and suggest new constellations for collaborations among poets, and site-specific readings, that we believe challenges the traditional forms of performing and reading poetry. This means new productions come out of every years festival, along with conversations, debates and questions we could never have foreseen or initiated ourselves.
Göteborg poetry festival is actively calling on competence and qualifications we do not possess ourselves. We collaborate with other operators on the field of poetry that broadens both content and conversation. Each year we invite a group of co-curators, in order to create a dynamic environment and give space for the unexpected to happen, but also to gain competence and reach out to networks that we ourselves do not hold. The co-curator could be an independent publishing house, another festival, a literary journal.
The last few years the festival has been visited by Anne Carson, Marcel Bénabou, Leslie Kaplan, Barys Pjatrovitj, Rosmarie Waldrop, Juliana Spahr, Tomaz Salamun, Göran Sonnevi, Lucija Stupica, Jenny Tunedal, Tua Forsström, Ales Steger, Ida Börjel, Lotta Lotass, Johan Jönson, Jen Bervin, Anne-James Chaton, Nathalie Quintane, Stéphane Bérard, Bernard Noël, Katarina Frostenson, Andrei Codrescu and Sujata Bhatt among many, many others.
Göteborg poetry festival is working towards an increasing internationalization. We want to be a festival that is not only presenting readings and talks, but is also an event and an experience that echoes long after the festival itself – a festival that is a part of a bigger international conversation on the matters of poetry.
The theme of Göteborg poetry festival 2012, 26th-28th of October, is “orientation”. Download the official program here.