whenever collections of verses run into 1.000 or 1.500 copies in print, then that’s considered a significant amount. Poetry collections aren’t usually found among books ranked in bestseller listings. In honoring authors with literary prizes, poets are regularly ignored. Inherently beautiful, however, is the fact that poets won’t be discouraged and continue unperturbed to express themselves in this way, because they feel some inner necessity to do so. Time after time new young hopefuls enter the scene and enrich it with their own unique sense of style. Maybe their readers aren’t many, but those who do read their work read it closely. Poetry is stubborn. It demands of its readers focused attention. It births countless meanings and resists rash interpretation. As such, poetry is totally and decidedly not with the times. But this is exactly what makes it attractive.
The fact that Bremen’s international poetry festival ›poetry on the road‹ has been able to attract large audiences to its events from the beginning is astonishing as much as it is reason for joy. The Theater am Goetheplatz is regularly sold out when ›poetry on the road‹ is in town. This is because the festival invites the most interesting voices in contemporary poetry, preferably poets who present their work as performing artists. In offering workshops and readings for high school students, with new formats, such as Poetry Slams, the festival also caters towards needs and interests of younger citizens.
This year we may look forward hearing Jan Wagner, the recipient of the Büchner Prize 2017, who will present his book project ›Impossible Love‹ together with other poets in St. Peter’s Cathedral. More than 30 authors from 21 countries will travel to Bremen. Among them Bremen will welcome Liao Yiwu from China, as well as the recipient of the Peace Prize awarded by German Booksellers 2012, the ›homme de lettres‹ Cees Nooteboom from the Netherlands, and Marica Bodrožić who has been showered by praise and awards. Judith Holofernes, once the singer and songwriter in the band ›Wir sind Helden‹ will present her work, alongside many other exciting artists who you may discover this year.
My thanks goes out to the team of ›poetry on the road‹ for organizing this wonderful poetry festival with such great success!
Your Mayor Dr. Carsten Sieling
President of the Senate, Senator of Cultural Affairs