San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

International Poetry Festival Expects Big Draw

In what has quickly become an international calendar event each February, Granada next week will once again host the IV annual International Poetry Festival, featuring more than 100 invited poets from 51 countries around the world.
The fourth installation of the annual poetry festival, celebrated in colonial Granada Feb. 11-17, is being held in homage to famed Nicaraguan poet Salomón de la Selva (1893-1956) with the slogan “poetry is hope.”
The festival, the city’s biggest tourism draw of the year, will feature nightly readings held in the various plazas of this city’s colonial churches, which are lit up brilliantly for the event.
The festival will also feature cultural acts, a book and crafts fair and a colorful poetic carnival Feb. 14,when hundreds of poets and artists dress up and parade through town, stopping at street corners and churches to recite poetry. The poets will also carry a symbolic coffin and, at the end of the parade, on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, they will symbolically “bury pessimism.”
This year’s poetry festival will also take its show on the road, featuring trips and poetry readings in the nearby municipalities of Catarina, San Juan de Oriente, Nandaime, Diriomo, Diriá, Masaya, Niquinohomo, San Marcos, Masatepe, Diriamba, Jinotepe and León.And in Granada, in addition to the traditional venues of Central Park, Plaza de los Leones, Convento San Francisco, Iglesia la Merced and the Parque de la Poesia, poets this year will also perform readings at schools, technical centers, the police station and the jail.
Simultaneous to the poetry festival there will be several demonstrations and declarations from feminist groups, who will be denouncing the Nicaraguan government’s treatment of women, as well as events by other groups that consider themselves outside of the establishment of the festival.
This year’s poets come from virtually every country in Latin America, the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia, from countries as far afield as Israel, the Czech Republic, Niger, Serbia, Poland, Greenland and Bangladesh, to name a few.
Nicaragua, too, will be represented by some of its most famous poets, such as famed author and poet Gioconda Belli, and concerts from popular signer songwriters Philip Montalbán and Carlos Mejía Godoy – both poets in their own sense.
After all, as Mejía Godoy’s brother Luis Enrique says in a funny play on words, in Nicaragua, everyone is either a poet, or an “hij’ue poeta.”

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