June 22, 2012
Nikola Mazdirov will represent Macedonia at Olympic Poetry Parnassus!
One week, 204 poets, over 50 languages, and 100,000 poems flurrying to the ground from above.
No, this is not a scene from an ancient Greek epic… But that is the idea of this year’s Poetry Parnassus, a massive poetry celebration established as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London, which is being called the biggest gathering of poets in world history.
From more than 6,000 recommended poets, 204 have been chosen to represent their nations at Southbank Centre in London from Tuesday, June 26th– Sunday, July 1st, in an event to re-establish the poetic heritage of the ancient Olympic games. Among them is Macedonian poet and BOA writer, Nikola Madzirov.
As one of these selected poets, Madzirov will tour the UK and take part in readings, workshops, and a gala event, in addition to contributing a poem in his own language for the international collection The World Record, which will be released on the 26th as a celebration of international poetry in translation. The artists will participate in more than 100 events, based on the concept of Southbank Centre’s artist in residence, Simon Armitage. According to The Guardian, Armitage sees the realization of his vision as both unexpected and powerfully unifying: “This is an idea on the back of an envelope which I brought to the Southbank Centre,” he said. “I thought they’d throw up their hands and roll their eyes but they said, ‘Let’s do it.’… It’s our own Olympic event, which is non-competitive and celebrating the ancient democratic art form of poetry.”
Madzirov, whose poetry has been translated into over 30 languages and whose most recent work, Remnants of Another Age, was published by BOA in 2011, reflects upon this immense honor in an interview for Poetry Parnassus, describing his conception of poetry as a record of that which must be heard and remembered– a guide on the journey out of isolation and loneliness. He says, “I regard telling stories as an essential gene in transferring the cultural and intellectual heritage, which is not to be found in any testament. It is an urge risen from the fear of forgetting, which is greater than the fear of death.”
The Parnassus, he continues, is an opportunity to overcome “inherited alienation” from other cultures that has affected his own identity as a translated poet:
“If anyone accepts me by the recipe of a person from the Balkans who lives between the extremes of the dark war and the Mediterranean sun, they will only strive to confirm what they have overheard in the five-minute analyses on some news channel… The gathering of Poetry Parnassus is a lovely chance to narrow the world into a single point and to meet friends that might otherwise, under different circumstances, become historic enemies… The gathering of over two hundred poets at the same spot is a confirmation of over two hundred personal poetics and a civilization of understanding, because only wars can gather so many nations in one place, at the same time. There will meet poets whose nations have spoken to each other in history more through bayonets and grenades than through verses or the silence between them.” (We highly recommend a perusal of this interview– Nikola provides a captivating discussion of the event from a necessarily worldly perspective!)
Among the other poets present will be Nobel prize winners Seamus Heaney (Ireland) and Wole Soyinka (Nigeria). Former poet laureate Kay Ryan will represent the United States, in addition to tens of lesser-known poets offering unique, innovative, and sometimes volatile presentations of their worlds.
Here at BOA we are truly honored to be affiliated with Madzirov and this historic event, and we wish this year’s poets, listeners, and readers all the best. Be sure to check back in with us for updates on Poetry Parnassus and Nikola Madzirov!
For more information on Poetry Parnassus, including the full list of poets and nations, events, videos, and podcasts, visit the Southbank Centre website here.
Nikola Madzirov at the BOA Bookstore