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Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

2017/6/19 — 14:14

【Text by Fiona Le Brun, Kelsey Woodburn, MARGENTO, and Paul Worley】

Never miss a world literature update again.

We are back with literary news you simply cannot miss! This week we will take you to Romania where MARGENTO will journey you through the intricate networks of performance art. Also reporting from Europe is Fiona Le Brun who will run you through the eclectic list of recent French literary prize winners, while subtly underlining the theme of migration that cuts across the various literary events. Far away from Mexico, Paul Worley and Kelsey Woodburn will highlight the increasingly important role of translation in its contemporary cultural landscape. 

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Editor-at-Large from Romania, MARGENTO, provides us with an insider’s view of the exciting world of Romanian artistic experimentation:

The Bucharest International Poetry Festival last month featured an impressive line-up of international writers and performers, among whom were Christian Bök from Canada, LaTasha Nevada Diggs from the US, Steven Fowler of the worldwide prolific Enemies Project, Max Höfler (the tireless organizer of the yearly Text-World—World-Text Symposium in Graz, Austria), the multilingual performance vocalist Maja Jantar of Belgium, the Bucharest-based American poet and translator Tara Skurtu, and many more, alongside local poets such as Claudiu Komartin and Razvan Tupa.  Organized by London-based Romanian poet and curator Simona Nastac, this annual event has gained visibility and centrality in a country where the tradition of performance poetry going at least as far back as Tristan Tzara’s DADA seems to be thriving more than ever, with festivals from Craiova in the south to Brasov and Sibiu in Transylvania to Cluj and Iasi up north (some of them performance-driven events, other more standard literary ones with a strong reading or performance section).

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Petrila is a one-of-a-kind venue among all of the above, both in Romanian and international terms.  The derelict mill-town riddled with abandoned coal mines and derelict factories has been transformed over the last two decades by visual artist, political caricaturist, and curator Ion Barbu into a mecca of non-conformist festivals (initially hosted in his own backyard), eclectic or scandalous arts events, and improbable post-Communist absurdist or faux-kitsch museums (including one that has resonantly revived the memory of once-censored outstanding dissident writer I.D. Sirbu).  A competitor—or rather concurrent event—has been the CUCA Festival organized over the past couple of years in Cartisoara, up in the mountains of Sibiu County, where cutting-edge and indie performances and installations converge with Romanian traditional architectural restoration work done by international volunteers. A ldocumentary titled Planet Petrila casting Ion Barbu in the lead role and portraying his eclectic personality and work against the background of the post -Communist history of his hometown has recently been widely praised and awarded at the international film festival TIFF.

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