Institut Ramon LLull

The European Poetry Festival features the Catalan poets Laia Carbonell, Anna Gual and Martí Sales

Literature.  12/06/2024

The commencement of this year's edition of the UK's foremost festival of contemporary European poetry was marked by a recital of Catalan poetry on 19 June.

The European Poetry Festival began with a recital on 19 June at the National Poetry Library in London. The event, titled Catalan Poetry Celebration, featured the works of Laia Carbonell, Anna Gual, and Martí Sales. The library is located in the Southbank central cultural centre. The UK's most outstanding festival of contemporary European poetry is taking place until 6 July, offering several recitals of this literary genre in several parts of the city. Collaborative poetic creation is one of the hallmarks of the festival, with UK authors participating in co-creation sessions with authors from other European nations.

In the recital of Catalan poetry, Anna Gual shared the stage with Rushika Wick, Martí Sales with James Wilkes, and Laia Carbonell with Mischa Foster Poole. All three British poets have collaborated with other Catalan poets in previous editions of the festival.

The British poet, cultural manager and teacher Steven J. Fowler created the European Poetry Festival in 2018 and has been its director since then. The festival promotes poetry from a contemporary, broad and diverse point of view, with the collaboration and active support of European cultural institutes present in London, such as the Institut Ramon Llull, and several British institutions such as the Arts Council England, the National Centre for Writing, the London Book Fair and Kingston University (of which Fowler is a professor). In this year's edition, there are recitals dedicated to the poetic creation of Flanders, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Latvia and Norway, among others.

Since 2022, the Institut Ramon Llull has been collaborating with the European Poetry Festival. This partnership provides a unique opportunity to promote contemporary Catalan poetry in reference scenarios in the United Kingdom, with the potential to influence poetic facilities and festivals in European countries.

The poetry recitals of 2022 and 2023 took place at the Iklectik space in the Waterloo area and at the Rich Mix cultural centre in the Shoreditch neighbourhood, respectively. In 2022, Mireia Calafell (with Björt Rùnars), Maria Sevilla (with Joan Martínez), Jansky, Maria Callís and Josep Pedrals took part, as did Eduard Escoffet, Miriam Cano, Jaume C. Pons Alorda and Xavier Mas Craviotto in 2023.

On Tuesday 18 June, the National Poetry Library recital, Laia Carbonell, Anna Gual and Martí Sales read their poems in the Prince Henry Room, the historic hall of Catalonia House, the building in central London that houses the services of the Generalitat in the United Kingdom. This event was principally aimed at members of the Catalan community in London and it was organised by the Government Delegation in the United Kingdom, with the collaboration of the Institut Ramon Llull.

Laia Carbonell has published the poetry books Nibrós (2019) and Finlàndia (2015). She has translated into Catalan a selection of Albert Camus' Notebooks with Francesc Gelonch, and has promoted the book and documentary about the 15M grassroots political movement in Terrassa, together with the collective ‘A les vuit al Raval’. Since 2019, she is one of the three programmers of the ‘Horiginal’ poetry season, which has been held in Barcelona for more than twenty years.

Anna Gual has published eight collections of poems, including Implosions (2008), L'ésser solar (2013), Molsa (2016) and Les ocultacions (2022), and has obtained several poetry awards. Some of her poems have been translated into French, English, Italian, Portuguese, Galician, Spanish, Croatian, Slovenian and Russian. In 2022, her poems, translated into English by Ann Kaiser, appeared in Hyperion Magazine and Harvard Review, and in 2023 in Poetry Magazine, becoming the third Catalan-language poet to be published by this American magazine in its 100-year history.

Martí Sales made his debut in 2005 with the poetry collection Huckleberry Finn (2005) and has been changing literary genres ever since: he has published poetic prose (Dies feliços a la presó, 2007), essays (Ara és el moment, 2011), fiction (Principi d'incertesa, 2015), the narrative poem La cremallera (2017) and the dictionary Aliment (2021). He has translated into Catalan John Berger, Harold Pinter, Kurt Vonnegut, Kae Tempest, Vivian Gornick and Patti Smith. He played for ten years with the punk group Els Surfing Sirles and co-directed the Barcelona International Poetry Festival (2010-2013).

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