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A contingent of African poets and musicians will be attending South America’s legendary XXI International Poetry Festival in Medellín, Columbia.

This has been facilitated by Poetry Africa and the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal). The following press release was issued by the International Poetry Festival of Medellín. With 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature Derek Walcott attending, alongside a significant delegation of African poets and singers, there will open, in 10 days’ time, the XXI International Poetry Festival of Medellín, convened and organized by the Prometeo poetry magazine, with the participation of over 90 poets from 50 countries of all the continents. It will pay homage to the Spirit of Origin and to African poetry, as it was in the black continent where the human legend arose, and where the winged hearts of its griots breathed poetry into the heart of the species. During its twenty-first issue, the International Poetry Festival of Medellín will celebrate its homage to the spirit of Africa Within the context of the XXI International Poetry Festival of Medellin there will take place the World Meeting of International Poetry Festival Directors, with the support of the Nuestra América Network of International Poetry Festivals and of the International Federation of Poetry Festivals. The Festival will take place from July 2 to 9, 2011, in a country burdened with a painful history of over five decades of conflict, as recently acknowledged by its president Juan Manuel Santos. Poetry is the ambrosia feeding the spirits of our youth in a time of desolation, and it is the flame that rises to light the way to the future in a new country of reconciliation and understanding, of dignity, beauty and justice. The XXI International Poetry Festival of Medellin will include 164 free events for the public in general, and is sponsored by the Medellin City Hall, the Medellín Council, the Ministry of Culture, Hivos, the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID), state-owned companies of Medellín, Poetry Africa, Confiar Caja Cooperativa, the Swiss Embassy, the Caipirinha Foundation, EAFIT, TeleMedellín and Coofinep. The African delegation, with collaboration of Peter Rorvik (Poetry Africa, Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal), shall consist of the popular singers Madosini Latozi Mpahleni, Chiwoniso Maraire and Tania Tomé (Mozambique), and the poets Werewere Liking (Cameroon), Haji Gora Haji (Zanzibar), Shailja Patel (Kenya), Antonio Gonçalves (Angola), Lebogang Mashile, Pitika Ntuli, Iain Ewok Robinson (South Africa) and Rachid Boudjedra (Algeria). The attendance of musician Pedro Espi-Sanchis (South Africa-Spain) has also been confirmed. Ten Asian poets will be in Medellín in 2011: Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi (Myanmar), Amir Or (Israel), Jidi Majia (Popular Republic of China), Ban’ya Natsuishi (Japan), Zahreef Ahmed (Kashmir), Rira Abbasi (Iran), Hadaa Sendoo (Mongolia), Zakaria Mohammed (Palestine), Ataol Behramoglu (Turkey) and Kamran Mir Hazar (Afghanistan). Poets from twelve European countries will read their poems in this new edition of the Festival, headed by the Dutchman Cees Nooteboom, Julian Heun (Germany), Fernando Valverde, Elena Medel, Anna Aguilar-Amat, Tomàs Arias, J. M. Calleja, Pedro Enríquez, Kirmen Uribe (Spain), Agneta Falk (Sweden), Nikola Madzirov (Macedonia), Lello Voce, Carlo Bordini, Giovanna Mulas (Italy), Christian Ide Hintze (Austria), Sigurbjörg Thrastardóttir (Iceland), Niillas Holmberg (Finland, Sami nation), Endre Ruset (Norway), Raphael Urweider (Switzerland) and Iryna Vikyrchak (Ukraine). Guests will be also joined by Australian Philip Hammial, American Jack Hirschmann, and Latin Americans Thiago de Mello (Brazil), Marco Antonio Campos, Aarón Rueda, Mariana Hernández, Sixto Cabrera, Roberto Arismendi (Mexico), Gabriel Impaglione (Argentina), Alex Pausides, Aitana Alberti, Waldo Leyva, Magia López (Cuba), Julio Mitjans Cabrera, winner of the La Gaceta – Prometeo Prize (Cuba), Rodolfo Häsler (Cuba-Spain), Marvin García (Guatemala), Louis-Philippe Dalembert (Haiti), José Mármol (Dominican Republic), Kwame Dawes (Ghana-Jamaica), Lucy Cristina Chau (Panama), Carmen Ollé (Peru), Faumelisa Manquepillán (Mapuche nation, Chile), José María Memet (Chile), Rodolfo Dada (Costa Rica) and Otoniel Guevara (El Salvador). Over a thousand poets from 156 nations have already taken part in the Festival, and poets from Afghanistan, Myanmar and Zanzibar will attend for the first time The World Meeting of International Poetry Festival Directors will address issues such as Peace and reconstruction of the human spirit, Interconnection and recovery of nature, Unity of the human spirit and cultural diversity of peoples, Material indigence and spiritual riches and Actions for the globalization of poetry, and attendance has been confirmed by representatives of 35 international poetry festivals: Krytia (India), Teheran (Iran), Tokyo (Japan), Smyrna (Turkey), Qinghai (Popular Republic of China), Tel Aviv (Israel), Durban (South Africa), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Struga (Macedonia), Paris (France), Granada (Spain), Berlin and Bremen (Germany), Rome (Italy), Kiev (Ukraine), Oslo (Norway), Palabra en el Mundo (Argentina/Italy), San Francisco (United States), Trois-Rivières (Canada), Tabasco and Veracruz (Mexico), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Havana (Cuba), Santiago de Chile (Chile), City of Panama (Panama), Medellín, Bogotá, Pereira and Pasto (Colombia), Quetzaltenango (Guatemala), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Valparaíso (Chile), San José (Costa Rica) and San Salvador (El Salvador). It is expected that this Meeting will give rise to the bases for the creation of a World Network of Poetry Projects and Festivals. There shall also take place the XV Poetry School of Medellin, which will hold 29 activities between courses, workshops and conferences, with free registration, which last year enabled the enrolment of hundreds of youths. A cycle of seven feature-length African films will also be shown, and a celebration held for the premiere of the documentary Resistance Cultures, directed by the Korean Iara Lee. 

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