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SOUTHBANK CENTRE ANNOUNCES THE POETS TAKING PART IN POETRY PARNASSUS – THE LARGEST GATHERING OF INTERNATIONAL POETS IN WORLD HISTORY
POETS, SPOKEN WORD ARTISTS, PRAISE SINGERS, RAPPERS AND STORY TELLERS TO PERFORM THEIR WORK IN MORE THAN 50 LANGUAGES AND DIALECTS PUBLIC CALL OUT TO POETS FROM 23 ‘MISSING’ COUNTRIES – FROM BHUTAN AND MONACO TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA AND MADAGASCAR – TO COME FORWARD FESTIVAL TO OPEN WITH RAIN OF 100,000 POEMS
Today Southbank Centre announces the selection for the biggest gathering of poets in world history. Poetry Parnassus, led by Artistic Director Jude Kelly and Curator and Artist in Residence Simon Armitage, will feature poetry from all of the 204 nations competing in the London 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 Anise Koltz (Luxembourg) will descend on Southbank Centre from across six continents, from the mountains of Nepal and Brazil to the islands of Haiti and Samoa. Selected poets include those from 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 the poets are women. This truly global gathering will be an opportunity to discover new voices and world greats with poets, spoken word artists, praise singers, rappers and story tellers reading their work in over 50 languages and dialects including: Goun (Benin), Wolof (Gambia), Amharic (Ethiopia), Haitian Creole, 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 Bill Manhire (New Zealand).
Those coming to Southbank Centre include many poets with incredible stories of adversity and political struggle such as Luljeta Lleshanaku (Albania) who grew up under house-arrest, as the child of parents who opposed the then Communist regime. Until the early 1990s, she was not allowed to attend university or publish her writing. She is now an editor and journalist, and has published five collections of poetry, with selections of her work translated into English and published in the UK and America. Jang Jin Seong (North Korea) is a former court poet to Kim Jong-il. After becoming disillusioned with the regime, Jang Jin Seong crossed the Tumen River carrying 70 of his poems, fleeing to China and then South Korea, without being able to say goodbye to his family. He now lives in South Korea and speaks out against the regime. Poet and tattoo artist Kosal Khiev (Cambodia) was born in a Thai refugee camp. In the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge war he fled with his family to the USA. At the age of 16 Kosal was arrested in a gang fight and charged with attempted murder. He was tried as an adult and whilst serving 14 years 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 never been to. Kosal hopes that one day the USA will repeal the current deportation law so that he can reunite 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 Somoza dictatorship and in 1975 was forced into exile in Mexico. When the Sandinista National Liberation Front claimed victory in 1979, Gioconda returned to Nicaragua and became Director of Communications 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 of Bsherre, the birthplace of poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran. She was taught Arabic by her illiterate 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 turned instead to poetry. She has won many awards for her work, including the Grand Prix de la Société des gens de lettres and the Prize of Goncourt for Poetry. As a novelist she won international fame in 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 Positive Black Soul (PBS), Didier Awadi is a Senegalese rapper and political activist who seeks to promote a positive image of Africa. After international success with PBS, including touring with MC Solaar, 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 in Senegal 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 23 countries: 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, TimorLeste 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 monumental and 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 welcome poetry 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 the shore of the river and among the many rooms, foyers and auditoria belonging to Southbank Centre. We have chosen poets whose work excited us and whose presence we hoped would bring energy and integrity to the festival; some decidedly literary, others from storytelling, oral or performing traditions, some world famous, others barely known. I hope we have reflected the range 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, Poetry Parnassus echoes the Epinicians – poetry commissioned as part of the Ancient Olympic Games. It also builds on Southbank Centre’s biannual Poetry International Festival, inaugurated in 1967 by Ted Hughes. Poetry Parnassus is one of the Festival of the World projects that has been made possible 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 nationwide celebration running from 21 June until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK. Moira Sinclair, Executive Director, London of Arts Council England, said: ‘London is going to host 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 promises to be a very special event for 2012 and we hope it will be remembered for many years to come.’ Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad & London 2012 Festival, said: ‘When the eyes of the 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 Centre Literature 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, in partnership with the British Council, for leading directors, publishers and writers, will run alongside participatory activities such as the Letter Party – a night where clubbers come dressed in a t-shirt with a letter on it and make words by befriending fellow ravers; Poetry Ambulance, a vintage ambulance offering diagnosis of poetry phobias and free poetry prescriptions; an Edible Poetry Workshop, where participants can write poetry with chocolate letters and then eat their creations; 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
music from across the African continent. Every reading will be delivered in the language the poetry was written in, and English where translation is required. The poets will contribute a poem to The World Record: International Voices from Southbank Centre's Poetry Parnassus, a landmark anthology published by Bloodaxe Books (26 June 2012), with a one-off handwritten multilingual edition housed in Southbank Centre’s Saison Poetry Library and published as an e-book by Bloodaxe. Four magazines and five books will be launched at the festival, including Simon Armitage’s new poetic travelogue Walking Home, (Faber, 5 July 2012) which recounts his 256 mile epic walk along the Pennine Way. Modern Poetry in Translation, as official poetry magazine partner, have produced a special Parnassus issue of the magazine featuring 17 Poetry Parnassus poets in translation. A selection of Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus poets will travel to festivals, libraries and detention centres across the UK from Manchester to Much Wenlock, as part of a national tour produced with Speaking Volumes (1-15 July). 50 UK poets will be involved in supporting visiting Parnassus poets, familiarising them with Southbank Centre and building ongoing links between UK and international poets. They will be joined by 10 Poetry Envois, Southbank Centre Young Producers who will be curating events throughout the week. Southbank Centre has collaborated with Poems on the Underground to produce a 48-page booklet of poems by poets born in countries competing in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with 100,000 copies to be distributed free at tube stations, libraries, Southbank Centre and City Hall. Poetry Parnassus poems will appear on London Underground trains. For names of all the poets please see the separate list of selected Southbank Centre Poetry Parnassus poets, also available at http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/parnassus For further press information and images please contact: Katie Toms on 0207 921 0926 / firstname.lastname@example.org Southbank Centre Ticket Office – southbankcentre.co.uk / 0844 847 9910 Twitter #parnassus Notes to Editors Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. The Royal Festival Hall reopened in June 2007 following the major refurbishment of the Hall and redevelopment of the surrounding area and facilities. Southbank Centre’s Festival of the World 1 June to 9 September 2012 Southbank Centre’s summer 2012 site-wide Festival of the World with MasterCard opens on 1 June 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee Weekend, and closes on 9 September 2012. As London welcomes the world this summer, Southbank Centre’s Festival of the World will include inspirational projects from the UK and around the world, which showcase the power of the arts to change the lives of individuals, communities and whole societies. The site will be transformed with art installations including a giant ‘robot’ sculpture; a colossal baobab tree made from fabric;
‘Rainbow Park’, a multi-coloured beach; and an exhibition in the Royal Festival Hall of the thinkers, artists and communities who have inspired and contributed to the Festival. The reopening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, weekly food markets, and a pop-up cafe complete the Festival landscape. www.southbankcentre.co.uk/world About MasterCard MasterCard cardholders can enjoy exclusive experiences and privileged access to the very best the Festival of the World has to offer by visiting southbankcentre.co.uk/MasterCard. MasterCard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a global payments and technology company. It operates the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the conversation on The Heart of Commerce Blog and subscribe for the latest news. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. We earn over 75% of our annual turnover of nearly £700 million from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%. We match every £1 of core public funding with over £3 earned in pursuit of our charitable purpose. For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org or call our Press Office on +44 (0)20 7389 4268. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through http://twitter.com/britishcouncil and http://blog.britishcouncil.org/. Bloodaxe Books was founded in Newcastle by Neil Astley in 1978. Internationally renowned for quality in literature and excellence in book design, its authors and books have won virtually every major literary award given to poetry, from the T.S. Eliot Prize and Pulitzer to the Nobel Prize (Bloodaxe has published the current Nobel Laureate in Literature, Tomas Tranströmer, since 1987). Alongside a substantial list of books in translation, Bloodaxe publishes both new and established poets from Britain and Ireland, as well as many poets from the US and other countries. Since 2000, Bloodaxe has been based in Northumberland, with its finance and sales office in Bala, North Wales. www.bloodaxebooks.com Speaking Volumes is a live literature production company, specialising in curating and staging literary work with international writers. They have programmed events with festivals and writers all over the world and are currently producing European Literature Night at the British Library. Modern Poetry in Translation (MPT) is the UK's most important Poetry Translation magazine and was founded in 1965 by Ted Hughes and Daniel Weissbort. They had two principal ambitions: to get poetry out from behind the Iron Curtain into a wider circulation in English and to benefit writers and the reading public in Britain and America by confronting them with good work from abroad. They published poetry that dealt truthfully with the real contemporary world. For more than 45 years MPT has continued and widened that founding intent. Now in its Third Series (since 2004)
MPT builds on the first editors’ extraordinary achievement. It affirms the vital importance of poetry in the modern world. It brings the best new translations, essays, and reviews that address such characteristic signs of our times as exile, the movement of peoples, the search for asylum, and the speaking of languages outside their native home. The present editors, David and Helen Constantine, in a different political landscape, have continued in the essential spirit and ambition of Hughes and Weissbort. Further, by understanding the 'modern' in the magazine's title to mean any lively new translation of any poetry from whatever age, they ensure that MPT crosses frontiers of time as well as of space. Ted Hughes founded Poetry International at Southbank Centre in 1967 and was its first director. MPT published poets appearing at the third Festival in 1970. That natural and valuable association continues today, with MPT's association with Poetry Parnassus as official poetry magazine partner. The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people. The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummer’s Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.The London 2012 Festival will celebrate the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival. For more details on the programme and to sign up for information visit www.london2012.com/festival
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