Fri, Sep 12, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Poetry festival attempts to show what are words worth

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

Started two years ago under the auspices of the Taipei City Government, the biennial International Poetry Festival is back to provide deep thoughts on life, the universe and everything else.

While it is sometimes a little hard for the hoi polloi to take the idea that it is poetry that is at life's cutting edge, rather than food, accommodation and education, the encouragement given to poetry by such events is an important part of creating a fully formed local literary culture.

But of course, no Taiwan arts festival would be complete without a fully integrated "multimedia element," and this year's Second International Poetry Festival is no exception. "Poems on electronic paper" will be a major part of the enterprise, which also offers the advantage for the overly sensitive to stay at home and still get the benefit of the audio-visual poems that have been uploaded to the Internet and which can be found at

In case poetry itself is not enough -- and some heavy-hitters from overseas have been brought in to enliven the event -- there will also be events featuring performance artists in various mediums from Luo Man-fei (羅曼菲) and Cloud Gate II to Leon Dai (戴立忍) and Labor Exchange (交工樂團).

While this is being done in the name of broadening the horizons of poetry, it looks more like a case of anxiety on the part of organizers that mere poets will never bring in the crowds.

While many of the events will be taking place at Chungshan Hall, approximately 30 percent will be distributed to other venues including Eslite Bookstore's Tunhua South Road branch, Taipei Artists' Village, Tamkang University Campus and so on, to give the event citywide relevance.

Tomorrow and Sunday, the event will start off with a major show of multimedia poetry at Chungshan Hall, which will include poetry recitals, singing, dancing and theatrical performances. Next week on Saturday, Sept. 20, there will be a "night of poets," bringing together major local and foreign poets to talk about their art. Among the biggest names will be Jean-Pierrre Simon, Wolfgang Kubin and Christian Bok.

Theme events will also feature as part of the festival, with sessions devoted to women's poetry, Aboriginal poetry, poetry celebrating rural Taiwan and, of course, Internet poetry.

All these events and much more will be taking place starting tomorrow, through Sept. 26. Details for events can be found at

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