Many thanks to writer Quito Nicolaas for translating this article from the original Dutch (as published in Caraïbisch Uitzicht.
Last summer Aruban writer, poet and essayist Quito Nicolaas, based in The Netherlands, was again invited to perform during the celebration of the 30th edition of the International Poetry Festival in Medellin. He also performed at the Festival de Poesía Contemporánea de San Cristobal (Mexico) and the Berlin Literature Festival.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic all major events were canceled, all performances were broadcast via video recording. In this way, millions of people around the world could watch and listen to the poetic play of words of each poet. From 1 August and for 70 days, 180 poets from 103 countries, representing the different continents, such as Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, Middle East and Europe, could be presented during the Medellin Festival. A rigorous selection had to be made of all those who have performed over the past 30 years to ensure a high quality of the offering. Nicolaas was chosen after he received a lot of praise for his nomination last year. Together with the Almere-Aruban poet also performed: Khédija Gadoum (Algeria), Rethabile Masilo (Lesotho) and Achmed Al Mula (Saudi Arabië).
For the Berlin International Literature Festival – which focused on the murder of George Floyd – he was approached to record a video message. In ‘Voices on Racism’ he elaborated in the field of international relations between countries. How countries are increasingly closing their borders for refugees and asylum seekers due to racism and no longer trusting each other. It is as if countries are crawling into their shells to protect their own people from those of a different race, religion and nationality and therefore no longer consist a world community.
As an example, essayist Nicolaas illustrated this on the basis of the relationship between Aruba and the Netherlands, who set additional demands with regard to the required budget support as a result of the corona crisis and its effects on the small-scale economy. A comparison between rich and poor, small-scale and prosperous that makes one subordinate to the desires of the other. Financial support that is indispensable and must be repaid, accompanied by the deprivation of their autonomy.
Nicolaas’s plea was aimed at ridding us of all this showdown between rich and poor countries, to pursue peaceful coexistence between countries.
Last year he was invited to perform for the San Cristobal International Festival in 2020. This festival of Contemporary Poetry focuses on an approaching whirlwind in poetry. Most of the participants are from South America or have a connection with the Spanish culture. It is often young people who are offered the opportunity to showcase their talent as a word artist. Nicolaas: “Poetry should be a reflection on history, nature and society of which you are a part.” For this festival he selected, among other things, the erotic poem ‘Pintura corporal’ (Body painting), which was included in the Argentinean anthology ‘Arte Poetica’ (2013). A poem has also been recited from his latest work ‘ARGUS’ (2019). In connection with his performance, five of his poems were selected for publication in the literary magazine Taller Igitur. Latin America is a continent where poetry lives, with an audience that, despite a rain shower, simply remains in their place to watch a poet perform.
For this renowned International Festival of Poetry of Medellin (FIPM) the poet chose to recite some Spanish-language poems. For this special celebration he recited the following poems: Objeto (Object), Siera, de la vida Maestra (Siera, of the masterly life) Ciego (Blind), Libertad sin rostro (Freedom without conscience) and Regreso (Return). The poems have been translated in the past by Ramon Todd Dandaré and Mariana Aristizábal.
They are poems that appeared in previous collections and each of them are related to the situation in which we live in the present. Poems of which the tenor, meaning and message are never lost. Some were even included in an anthology in New York or Argentina. The poems are linked together as if they were part of a chain of interpretation. Different aspects of life and the present are projected in his poems. In between his lectures, he makes some remarks referring to the lock-down, which creates a breeding ground for a different and, in particular, not very democratic society.
For the original article (in Dutch), see https://werkgroepcaraibischeletteren.nl/almeerse-dichter-als-gast-tijdens-internationale-poezie-festival-in-berlijn-mexico-en-colombia/