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Press Release: Southbank Centre Poetry Parnassus

Press Release: Southbank Centre Poetry Parnassus

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04/26/2012

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17 April 2012
SOUTHBANK CENTRE ANNOUNCES THE POETS TAKING PART INPOETRY PARNASSUS
 –
THE LARGEST GATHERING OFINTERNATIONAL POETS IN WORLD HISTORY
 
POETS, SPOKEN WORD ARTISTS, PRAISE SINGERS, RAPPERS AND STORYTELLERS TO PERFORM THEIR WORK IN MORE THAN 50 LANGUAGES ANDDIALECTS
 
PUBLIC CALL OUT TO POETS FROM 23 ‘MISSING’ COUNTRIES –
FROMBHUTAN AND MONACO TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA AND MADAGASCAR
 –
TOCOME FORWARD
 
FESTIVAL TO OPEN WITH RAIN OF 100,000 POEMS
Today
Southbank Centre
announces the selection for
 
the biggest gathering of poets in worldhistory.
Poetry Parnassus
, led by
Artistic Director Jude Kelly
and
Curator
and
Artist inResidence Simon Armitage
, will feature poetry from all of the 204 nations competing in theLondon 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with 140 poets confirmed so far to be at
Southbank Centre
from 26 June
 –
1 July 2012.
Poetry Parnassus
is part of the site-wide
Festival of the World with MasterCard
.Poets ranging in age from 24-year-old
Akerke Mussabekova
(Kazakhstan) to 83-year-old
AniseKoltz
(Luxembourg) will descend on
Southbank Centre
from across six continents, from themountains of Nepal and Brazil to the islands of Haiti and Samoa. Selected poets include thosefrom countries where freedom of speech is still restricted, such as North Korea, Myanmar (Burma),and Swaziland. Many of the poets will be travelling to the UK for the first time and over 50% of thepoets are women.This truly global gathering will be an opportunity to discover new voices and world greats withpoets, spoken word artists, praise singers, rappers and story tellers reading their work in over 50languages and dialects including: Goun (Benin), Wolof (Gambia), Amharic (Ethiopia), HaitianCreole,
 
Maori and Kazakh.After more than 6,000 public nominations were received last summer, poets selected to attend
Poetry Parnassus
include
Jo Shapcott
(Great Britain),
 
Nobel Laureates
Seamus Heaney
(Ireland) and
Wole Soyinka
(Nigeria) and former Poet Laureates
Kay Ryan
(USA) and
BillManhire
(New Zealand).
 
 
Those coming to
Southbank Centre
include many poets with incredible stories of adversity andpolitical struggle such as
Luljeta Lleshanaku
(Albania) who grew up under house-arrest, as thechild of parents who opposed the then Communist regime. Until the early 1990s, she was notallowed to attend university or publish her writing. She is now an editor and journalist, and haspublished five collections of poetry, with selections of her work translated into English andpublished in the UK and America.
Jang Jin Seong
(North Korea) is a former court poet to Kim Jong-il. After becoming disillusionedwith the regime, Jang Jin Seong crossed the Tumen River carrying 70 of his poems, fleeing toChina and then South Korea, without being able to say goodbye to his family. He now lives inSouth Korea and speaks out against the regime.Poet and tattoo artist
Kosal Khiev
(Cambodia) was born in a Thai refugee camp. In the aftermathof the Khmer Rouge war he fled with his family to the USA. At the age of 16 Kosal was arrested ina gang fight and charged with attempted murder. He was tried as an adult and whilst serving 14years in a state penitentiary discovered spoken word poetry from a former Vietnam War veteran.Upon release in 2011, the U.S. government deported him to Cambodia, a country he had neverbeen to. Kosal hopes that one day the USA will repeal the current deportation law so that he canreunite with his family. Until then, he lives as an exiled American in Phnom Penh.
Gioconda Belli
(Nicaragua) was a Sandinista revolutionary in the struggle against the Somozadictatorship and in 1975 was forced into exile in Mexico. When the Sandinista National LiberationFront claimed victory in 1979, Gioconda returned to Nicaragua and became Director ofCommunications for the state, but soon became disillusioned with the party. She is now living in
Los Angeles and is a major critic of the current government. Her work explores women’s
 emancipation and the struggles of liberation and has been translated into many languages.Leading poet and translator
Vénus Khoury-Ghata
(Lebanon) was born in the mountain village ofBsherre, the birthplace of poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran. She was taught Arabic by herilliterate mother and at the age of 18 her life was transformed when she became Miss Beirut.Vénus Khoury-Ghata soon became disillusioned with this world of wealth and glamour and turnedinstead to poetry. She has won many awards for her work, including the Grand Prix de la Sociétédes gens de lettres and the Prize of Goncourt for Poetry. As a novelist she won international famein the 1990s with
Les fiancés du Cape Ténès 
(1996).A former break-dancer and originator of the late 80s hip-hop scene in Dakar with his group PositiveBlack Soul (PBS),
Didier Awadi
is a Senegalese rapper and political activist who seeks topromote a positive image of Africa. After international success with PBS, including touring with MCSolaar, Awadi signed with Sony music and has released four solo albums, the most recent being
Presidents of Africa 
(2010). He runs his own studio and label and produces hip-hop festivals inSenegal including Senerap International (2003) and 72H Hip Hop (2009).
Southbank Centre
is calling out for suitable poets who have yet to be found for the following 23countries: Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Dominica, Gabon,Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Namibia, Nauru,Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa American, Seychelles, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu. Nominations can be made at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Parnassus 
 
 
Jude Kelly, Southbank Centre Artistic Director
said:
 
‘  
Poetry Parnassus will be a monumentaland unique happening which will make world history. As London welcomes the world this summer,we look to art as an agent for social change and as a testimony to human inspiration. We welcomepoetry in all its guises
 –
 
poetry as protest, poetry for peace and poetry for poetry’s sake. In this
wonderful and diverse city we seek to remove the borders and embrace fundamental truths. The
world’s poets are coming to Southbank Centre. It will be a glorious occasion.’
 Simon Armitage, Southbank Centre Artist in Residence and Poetry Parnassus Curator
said:
For a week at the end of June, we aim to recreate the footslopes of Mount Parnassus along theshore of the river and among the many rooms, foyers and auditoria belonging to SouthbankCentre. We have chosen poets whose work excited us and whose presence we hoped would bringenergy and integrity to the festival; some decidedly literary, others from storytelling, oral orperforming traditions, some world famous, others barely known. I hope we have reflected therange of poetic voices at work in the world today and recognised the varying forms and
approaches that poetry can take.’
 
Taking inspiration from Mount Parnassus in Greece, one of poetry’s spiritual and mythical
heartlands, the home of the lyricist Orpheus and the dwelling place of the muses,
PoetryParnassus
echoes the Epinicians
 –
poetry commissioned as part of the Ancient Olympic Games.It also builds on
Southbank Centre’s
biannual
Poetry International Festival
, inaugurated in1967 by
Ted Hughes
. Poetry Parnassus is one of the Festival of the World projects that has beenmade po
ssible with additional support from Southbank Centre’s key funder Arts Council England.
 
Poetry Parnassus
is part of the
London 2012 Festival
, the spectacular 12-week nationwidecelebration running from 21 June until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists fromacross the world with the very best from the UK.
Moira Sinclair, Executive Director, London of Arts Council England
, said: ‘
London is going tohost a tremendous mix of artistic as well as sporting talent this summer. To have so many poets,from so many different countries and cultures is truly an Olympic feat. Poetry Parnassus promisesto be a very special event for 2012 and we hope it will be rem
embered for many years to come.’
 
Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad & London 2012 Festival
, said:
When the eyes ofthe world are on London and the UK this summer the London 2012 Festival will showcase the UK's
world leading arts and culture. Poetry Parnassus will welcome the world’s poets to the Southbank
Centre for what will be a highlight of the London 2012 Festival
.’
 The festival
 
is set to be a teeming hub of poetic activity with readings, workshops, music,translation slams and over 100 free events, organised by
Anna Selby, Southbank CentreLiterature and Spoken Word Co-ordinator
. Throughout the week, traditional poetry events,including a reading celebrating the work of
Ted Hughes
and a
World Poetry Summit
, inpartnership with the British Council, for
leading directors, publishers and writers,
will runalongside participatory activities such as the
Letter Party
 
 –
a night where clubbers come dressedin a t-shirt with a letter on it and make words by befriending fellow ravers;
Poetry Ambulance
, avintage ambulance offering diagnosis of poetry phobias and free poetry prescriptions; an
EdiblePoetry Workshop
, where participants can write poetry with chocolate letters and then eat theircreations; readings and workshops in a London Underground train shaped tent and a
Children’s
Poetry Tea Party
. The festival finale,
Word From Africa
, will showcase talent in literature and

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