Language is an apple with magical juices. It has the power to make us dream and reshape our minds. One crafted sentence and the world looks afresh, recreated with one stroke on the page or a quiet whisper close to the ear. Poetry, in any language, is the concentrated fragrance of that apple.
On Wednesday September 23rd, the 10th edition of Transpoesie kicked off at the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Brussels with six astounding poets, six women with distinct and passionate voices: Marlèna BRAESTER (Israel), Denisa COMĂNESCU (Romania), Katja GOREČAN (Slovenia), Giedrė KAZLAUSKAITĖ (Lithuania), Caroline SIMON (Luxembourg), and Sigurbjörg ÞRASTARDÓTTIR (Iceland).
“Transpoesie is all about celebrating the richness of language diversity in Europe,” said Jitka Pánek Jurková, director of the Czech Centre in Brussels.
The first edition of Transpoesie took place in 2010, on the 26th of September 2010, European Day of Languages. At the Council of Europe’s initiative, the European Day of Languages has been celebrated on that day since 2001 with conviction in mind that linguistic diversity is part of the rich cultural heritage of Europe.
For its 10th birthday, Transpoesie is partnering with the European Poetry Platform Versopolis. The opening event was moderated by Sigrid Bousset, independent curator and consultant in literature, while poetry lovers followed the event via social media.
“I love bringing together writers from different regions in Europe,” said Bousset. “That’s what I have been doing for twenty years, being a bridge between people, and if you can do it in an international context, even better.”
The event included a conversation with the poets, led and moderated by Bousset, who invited them to talk about the topics that interested most, their inspiration, how they were dealing with the confinement measures in Covid-19 times.
Each participant also read a sample of her work, poems in the original language with the translation in English available as well in the form of subtitles. The important role of translation was also underlined during the evening. Without it, we would not be able to discover universes beyond the languages we understand.
“I have a private passion, perhaps a fetish, for beautiful old Icelandic words that I don’t want to be forgotten,” said Icelandic poet, Sigurbjörg Thrastardottir. “I slip those words into my texts, both to keep them alive, but also to give the text real life. Perhaps that gives translators a tough time, sometimes, but they always have solutions in the realm of their own languages, so novel and rich images appear.”
There was also talk about our perception of travel, how it has been reshaped during these times to become something new and at the same time familiar, it was always there.
“I had a lot of dreams about traveling, about my experiences and about people that I have meet before,” said Slovenian poet Katja Gorečan. “I didn’t travel to other countries and cities but I went to the mountains in Logarska Dolina Valley which is close to my hometown. I did a lot of mountain biking. Because I come from a small village Jarmovec where there are only a few houses and woods around, I was always dreaming about traveling the world as a child. Walls in my child room are all painted or covered with maps and drawings.”
By hosting a diverse array of poets, Transpoesie gives the opportunity to get acquainted with sounds and universes one otherwise wouldn’t.
“I’ve discovered six poets I didn’t know,” said Bousset. “I’ve been exploring their work. It’s so enriching.”
Literature offers a window to distant locations, different cultures and mindsets. Through language one can paint a landscape, portray the quiet voices of nature. A book can make us dream.
For Katja Gorečan, such a book has been Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. In one of the book’s essays, Solnit writes, “For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go.”
Next Transpoesie event:
When: 30 September 2020, at 20h
Where: Hungarian Cultural Institute Brussels