From 29 May to 3 June, Poetry International will bring a choice selection of poetic voices to Rotterdam. The festival poets of the 49th PIFR are younger than ever and unafraid to wade into many a topical discussion with their poetry, whether it concerns the environment or sustainability, racism, diversity and gender, massively destabilising violence, or politics where madness sometimes seems to reign supreme. With their assertive, challenging poetry, American poets Patricia Lockwood and Danez Smith, the Spanish Sonia Bueno, the Mexican Alí Calderón and Dolores Dorantes or the Russian Maria Stepanova all speak out freely and incisively.
Patricia Lockwood – (1982 – USA)
Patricial Lockwood has been dubbed “the poet laureate of Twitter.” Her best-known poem, ‘Rape Joke’, was even described in The New Yorker as being readable as a “series of exceptional tweets”. Online, she bewitches her followers with her endless stream of jokes and cat pictures; offline, she does so with her incisive poetry and her recently published memoir, Priestdaddy, about growing up with a Roman-Catholic priest for a father. Her poetry does not shy away from topical issues such as sexual harassment or Trump’s America. On the contrary, Lockwood manages to use her razor-sharp sense of humour to pinpoint and prod society’s soft spots.
Danez Smith (1989 – USA)
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.
The full festival program – poets and events – is up on poetryinternational.nl. Most programs are language no problem with simultaneously projected translations in English and Dutch. Poetry International’s Art route Poetry + Art will take you to many Rotterdam based gallery’s for thrilling expositions on the crossroads of poetry and various forms of visual arts with poets en spoken word artists reciting poems on the spot.