The European Poetry Festival was born out of a desire to celebrate, 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 first European Poetry Festival, in April 2017, presented ten events in three British cities, in under two weeks, to over 500 hundred people. From April 5th to April 14th 2018, over 70 poets from 27 countries took part, many visiting, many residents of the UK, in an extraordinary celebration of the possibilities of European language arts. Supported by Arts Council England, London Bookfair, Kingston University, Austrian Cultural Forum, Goethe Institut, Institut Francais and over 20 international agencies and organisations, the first festival was a proof of concept and the beginning of a tradition.
The second EPF will take place between March 27th and April 12th 2019. It will cross the official date of England leaving it's own continent and travel, after multiple events in London, to Norwich, Manchester, Middlesbrough and Dublin.
The EPF is designed to be a pioneering 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 aspires 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 and Norwich's National Centre for Writing for 2019, European Poetry Festival, from it's UK base, aims to keep some of the world's finest poetry in the consciousness of audiences and readers alike.
The festival was founded and is directed by SJ Fowler www.stevenjfowler.com
The origins of the European 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: