Poets from across the world will descend on Taipei for a weeklong poetry festival beginning tomorrow with an opening ceremony at Zhongshan Hall. The theme for this year is Images of the World — Songs of the Soul, and in keeping with previous poetry festivals, the aim is to bring poets from disparate regions to Taiwan to introduce their culture through verse and prose.
But text is not the only thing on the menu as the organizers have incorporated photography and documentaries into the mix. Undoubtedly an effort to make the festival more appealing, the multimedia displays will bring the world to Taiwan through images.
Mirroring the disappointments found in much of the poetry to be read, the festival organizers received some bad news over the past few days as they found out that Apti Bisultanov and Nancy Morejon, two of the international poets set to read at the festival, were not granted visas by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Festival organizers speculate that Bisultanov wasn't granted a visa because he's from Chechnya and as the government is trying to improve relations with Russia, nationals from Chechnya are not able to enter Taiwan. Morejon, on the other hand, would be granted a visa, but she could only get one by going to a third country, something she was unwilling to do.
But there is still much to see and hear. Europe is well represented with a line up of poets that span the entire region. Zoran Anchevski hails from Macedonia where he is a professor of English and American literature at Skopje University and was a past secretary of P.E.N. Macedonia.
Kirmen Uribe is from Spain's Basque country and has published essays, stories, comics and a children's book. His first collection of poems, Meanwhile Hold Hands, won Spain's 2001 Premio de la Critica, one of that country's most prestigious literary prizes.
What: Taipei Poetry Festival: Images of the World -- Songs of the SoulWhere: Poetry readings and film screenings are at Eslite Gallery (誠品畫廊), B2, 243 Tunhua S Rd Sec 1, Taipei (台北市敦化南路一般243號B2); opening reception and music at Zhongshan Hall (台北市中山堂), 98 Yenping S Rd, Taipei (台北市延平南路98號). When: Tomorrow to Nov. 11On the Net: More information can be found in English and Chinese at www.2006tpf.com
Moving closer to home, Shootao (秀陶) is a poet working and living in the US. Born in China, he moved to Taiwan in 1950 and joined the Modernists group in 1956. He stopped his creative activity for more than two decades before retuning to poetry in 1985 with a series of prose poems. Still an under-appreciated form in traditional Chinese poetry, the prose poems written by Shootao are considered to be among the most important in Chinese literature.
The Saffron Film Festival, like the poetry festival under which it's run, carries the same theme of showing images from around the world. The film screenings will all take place at the Eslite Gallery — the same place where the photography can be found — and features a line up of European filmmakers whose work rarely gets shown in Taiwan.
Director Kerstin Nickig's My Dear Muslim is a 36-minute documentary with English subtitles that follows the life of a Chechen family that immigrated to Poland after the Chechen war. The head of the family, Said-Selim, is a Chechen journalist who videotaped the horrors of the Chechnya war before they escaped. The documentary is infused with some of his archival material, the realism of which garnered Nickig the FIPRESCI prize at the 46th Cracow International Film Festival, 2006.
Three works will be shown by the French filmmaker Pierre Coulibeuf. Crossing many cinematographic genres (fiction, documentary, experimental), Coulibeuf invents a visual language closely related to poetry. The Demon of Passage and The Warriors of Beauty are both powerful experimental films that challenge notions of spectatorship and film consumption, confronting the fixed image with the image in motion. Rounding out this triptych of film is Klossowski, painter-exorcist, which delves into the demonic world of the writer and artist Pierre Klossowski.