Welcoming Address by Thomas Wohlfahrt
All art, including poetry, involves openness and a joy in discovering and developing aesthetic solutions to give expression to problems, both global and individual. For this very reason, fanaticism and the isolationism of nation states are diametrically opposed to artistic interests. It is the job of all of us to strengthen the European Union as an open, cosmopolitan space of solidarity to prevent it becoming a Fata Morgana – a mirage of “alternative facts” causing irreparable damage.
At the 18th poesiefestival berlin some 170 poets from 42 countries will be sounding out the possibilities of the art of language. Just a word, Europe is bringing together poetic perspectives from the outside, from 22 countries bordering the EU, for a unique installation. This year’s VERSschmuggel/reVERSible is an encounter between Kurdish and German poetry. Poetry and Propaganda will be a discussion of how words and poetic forms can exercise power. Our new three D poetry project will have its première at the festival, with artists from around the world living in Berlin experimenting with dance, text and music. Three exhibitions explore dimensions of the infinite, of repeatedly saying anew and over-writing. The 2017 Berlin Poetry Lecture is a plea on behalf of poetry as a practical form of responsible thought and action. Weltklang is opening the festival in the traditional way with a poetic survey of the world. The Poetry Market on the final day of the festival draws our attention to Dresden, with that city revealing in a programme of stage events its true face as international, colourful and diverse with many different voices.
I want to thank all our partners and sponsors, and all the poets and artists and our helpers, but especially the Hauptstadtkulturfonds, the Auswärtiges Amt and the Academy of Arts. And I wish all of us an exciting and thought-provoking 2017 festival.
Dr. Thomas Wohlfahrt
Director Haus für Poesie