More than 70 poets from around the world are participating in the 45th Struga Poetry Evenings (SPE), which opened on Thursday (24 August). The event is the most prestigious poetry-focused programme in the Balkans, and is heralded worldwide.
Kicking off the SPE was a reading of the Macedonian poem "T'ga za jug" (Grief for the South) by Konstantin Miladinov and a spectacular fireworks show. This year's poet laureate Cuban Nancy Morejón planted the 45th tree in the Park of Poetry.
Morejón writes in Spanish and has 15 books of poetry published. Experts see her modern poetry as continuing the tradition of the old Spanish ballade, where dance, music, warmth and love are the dominant themes. Her works have been translated into almost every European language and published in magazines in the United States.
The central topic of the SPE this year is the multimedia mark of modern poetry and the relation of verses to other arts. The 2006 symposium of the SPE, "The Poem/The Picture: A Dialogue Between Poetry and Painting", was envisioned as a dialogue between poets and painters in theory and aesthetics. Several roundtables are scheduled to focus on this topic.
Other events include a traditional poetry evening dedicated to Caribbean poetry, readings called "Night without Punctuation" will be organised, and a book of poetry, "Pleiades" and anthologies of poetry by Macedonian authors will be published.
The high point of the festival is Bridges -- an event held on the outlet of the Crn Drim River to Lake Ohrid. During this event, the SPE and UNESCO will present an award to young author Maria Markovna-Geyde from the Russian Federation, for her book "Time to Dust".
The SPE will not end in Struga. The poets will visit other towns in Macedonia to read verses in a mission to spread art. Eventually, they will all gather in Skopje for a poetry matinee and reading.
Distinguished poets have come to Macedonia for the SPE for 45 years. The winner of last year's SPE Golden Wreath was the American poet W.S. Merwin. US poets Allen Ginsberg and Joseph Brodsky, Greece's Yannis Ritsos, Hungarian Laszlo Nagy, Chilean Pablo Neruda, Spain's Justo Jorge Padron and Israeli Yehuda Amichai are just some who have received the Golden Wreath.