Europe's poetry elite flock to Ukraine: Meridian Czernowitz: Poetry as platform for politics and influencing minds
Society13:54 Sep. 14, 2016

Meridian Czernowitz: Poetry as platform for politics and influencing minds

Seventh International Poetry Festival kicks off in Chernivtsi in Western Ukraine 

The city of Chernivtsi in Western Ukraine is known for its beautiful architecture. The local National University attracts not only students, but also tourists from all over the world. It often serves as a platform for various cultural events, such as the seventh Poetry Festival, called Meridian Czernowitz.

Watch also Germany considers Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi as one of the literary capitals of the 20th century

Germany, Austria, Israel, Switzerland – more than 30 European poets have arrived in Ukraine to take part in the event. They perform live for the guests of the festival.

Monika Rinck a poet from Berlin has written poems for several decades. Her lyrics range from personal feelings to peculiar abstractionism.

Monika Rinck, German poetess: "I also have poems that are not that abstract, but address German political matters, like, for example the so-called refugee crisis, and I wrote something about the economic crisis in 2009."

The poetry festival is dominated by politics. It's actually one of the main topics of this year's event.

Some say politics and poetry should go their own separate ways, but in fact, throughout history poets have never hesitated to write about world or domestic affairs or criticize various leaders for their misdeeds. And when it comes to Ukraine, considering everything that has happened in the country – the war in the East, Russian occupation of Crimea, people's struggle for a better future after the Maidan Revolution, it only seems obvious that all these issues could not be ignored by local artists. 

Renowned Ukrainian poet Serhii Zhadan presents his book, called ‘Templars'. He says he worked on it for almost a year. In his poems Serhii reflects upon the Ukrainian crisis and the war. One of his works is dedicated to a priest captured by the pro-Russian militants.

Serhii Zhadan, Ukrainian poet: "I frequently visit the conflict zone in Donbas, and I meet a lot of people there, a lot of faces, a lot of names, and then they appear in my poems. But of course, there are a lot of abstract things too, because poetry allows to maneuver, to generalize and be specific at the same time."

Watch also Highlights of Meridian Czernowitz 2015: More than just plays and words

The organizers admit, they have chosen politics deliberately. They want the world to understand what's going on in Ukraine.

Svyatoslav Pomerantsev, Meridian Czernowitz poetry festival organizer: "Considering the situation, it's obvious that the festival should be a powerful tool, a powerful voice. It's hard to come by truthful information in the West about Ukraine. And by inviting poets here, who influence the minds of the people in these countries, we let them see with their own eyes what's happening in Ukraine."

Pomerantsev adds, the festival is also dedicated to the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Babi Yar tragedy, a massacre of Jewish people, committed by Nazi Germany.

Learn more about it in the next material on Ukraine Today. 

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