~ Festival Internacional de Poesía en Medellín ~

Oblogo Concerto by Atukwei Okai

Ghanaian poetry videos are a little thin on the ground, but I found three in the International Poetry Festival of Medellín’s massive video archive (African poets section), and was fascinated by Okai’s dramatic style and use of extreme alliteration. Atukwei Okai “was the first to try to take African poetry back to one of its primal origins, in percussion, by deliberately violating the syntax and lexicon of English, creating his own rhythms through startling phonetic innovations,” according to the Nigerian scholar of African Studies Femi Osofisan. In typical Medellín video style, we are shown the audience’s reactions — or lack thereof — as the poet recites.

For more on the festival, see the Guardian Weekly article, “Medellín’s poems of peace.” I would love to see the same kind of media coverage given to this festival as to the World Cup, at least on Univision. But I imagine it would have to be turned into a poetry slam-style competition for that to happen, and that would probably clash with the festival’s peace agenda.

New Word Hawda (New Word Order) by Linton Kwesi Johnson

Poem by Linton Kwesi Johnson, read live at the 16th International Festival of Poetry in Medellin, Columbia in 2006

Elogio de la gordura (Elegy to Obesity) by Rigoberto Paredes

Honduran poet Rigoberto Paredes reads at the 15th International Poetry Festival at Medellin. Here’s the text of the poem, together with a translation.

Elogio de la gordura

Loada sea la gordura, su grasa
llena de gracia, la curva
tensa y relumbrante de sus contornos.
Dichosos sean los seres de ancho follaje,
donde todo el que quiera
halle puesto seguro para pasar la noche.
Gocen de buena fama
esos seres flamantes, exagerados,
vivos retratos de la abundancia.
Ábranles campo por donde vayan;
no los hagan perder
el tiempo, el peso, la vida.
Convídenlos a la mesa, a la cama
(sin mayores recatos ni privaciones)
y celebren en público, a sus anchas,
los deliciosos fastos de la gordura.

Elegy to Obesity

Blessed be obesity, its grease
full of grace, the perfect
and resplendent curves of its contours.
Happy are they of ample arbor
where all who desire it
may find a sure port to pass the night.
They enjoy a good reputation,
these radiant, excessive beings,
the very images of abundance.
They open new frontiers wherever they go;
they don’t let anything go to waste,
neither time, nor dough, nor living.
Invite them to table, to bed
(neither with great reserve nor privation)
and living large, publically celebrate
this delicious extravagance, obesity.