The European Poetry Festival celebrates, in the UK and beyond, the grand resurgence in avant-garde and literary poetry that has marked the 21st century in Europe. It aims to not only innovative what a live poetry experience might be, but to inculcate community and engagement between poets across the continent, as well as between new audiences and complex poetries. The Nordic Poetry Festival has grown out of this same goal, focusing on a new understanding of what Nordic literature might be in a new Europe.
The second European Poetry Festival was an extraordinary success, taking place April 4th to April 15th 2019. As the UK pretended to leave its own continent, nearly 1000 people witnessed 80 of Europe’s most innovative and dynamic literary and avant-garde poets come to London, Norwich, Manchester, and Kildare for 9 events over 11 days, creating over 100 new works of live literature. Click the links on the events here to watch all the performances and find out more.
The second festival reflected the remarkable success of the project and grew significantly, following events curated beyond the UK in Vienna, Ljubljana and across the UK, following the first European Poetry Festival, in April 2018, which presented ten events in three British cities, in under two weeks, to over 500 hundred people. The EPF is now a mode of literature, commissioned by festivals across Europe for it’s pioneering collaborative and commission events.
Supported by Arts Council England, National Centre for Writing, Nordic Culture Fund, London Bookfair, Kingston University, Austrian Cultural Forum, Pro Helvetia Switzerland, Goethe Institut, Institut Francais and over 40 international agencies and organisations, the festival is a burgeoning tradition of continental poetry based in the UK.
The EPF and NPF are designed to be a showcase of not only live literature - that is performances of poetry tailored to the event setting, and not simply recitals of that which is marked upon the page - but new writing methodologies, most notably collaboration. The festival seizes upon a resurgent and vital interest in European culture and taps into a renaissance currently taking place across the continent in avant-garde and literary practise.
It engages poets who are often on the margins of their own nations poetry culture, precisely because their work is forward looking and challenging. The EPF and NPF aspire to be a space in which difficult, multifaceted, layered poetry is presented in an open, welcoming, generous environment. The festival is about innovation as well as community, in that the more hospitable the happening, the more challenging the work on display is free to be.
With support from over a dozen European and UK institutes, with more being added as months pass, including Manchester's new Poetry Library, European Poetry Festival and Nordic Poetry Festival, from our UK base, aims to keep some of the world's finest poetry in the consciousness of audiences and readers alike.
The festivals were founded and are directed by SJ Fowler www.stevenjfowler.com
The origins of the European / Nordic Poetry Festival events
European Poetry Festival emerges from over seven years of European focused collaborative and innovative live poetry events through The Enemies Project and the curatorial work of SJ Fowler. International exchanges between poets in the UK and poets from Romania, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Croatia as well as commissioned events from Southbank Centre, Ledbury Festival, Essex Book Festival, Milosz Festival and many others, led to cross-European collaborative events beginning in 2015.
Find out more and watch all the works made for these nights below: