lyrikline blog

Interviews on “poetry & refugees” – 6 – Sjón

Posted in Autoren / poets, ICORN, Sjón by lyrikline on 21. March 2015

Sjón was born Iceland in 1962 and is an active supporter of the Cities of Refuge project ICORN. Thanks to his initiative, Reykjavík joined this international network of cities hosting persecuted writers.  sjon


Lyrikline Blog (LB): You are very active in the “Cities of refuge network” (ICORN). How come you made the issue of persecuted and exiled writers your topic?

Sjón (SJ): As a teenager I went to a talk given by the Somali author Nuruddin Farah about how it is to be a writer living under dictatorship. It had a strong impact on me. At the same time I was fascinated by Surrealism and through my readings about the movement and its poets in different countries I realised how provocative poetry can be, even in its most surreal or abstract form, and therefore how easily it can put the poets in opposition to authority, both political and religious. Then when the chance came I felt I had the obligation to practically do whatever I could to support persecuted writers. And that is what I have done through ICORN and PEN. Those of us who have the benefit of living in countries where free speech is allowed can show our true commitment to its values by fighting for those who are not so lucky.

LB: In your view, is it the task of a poet also to be a chronicler or witness of his/her time? 

SJ: The poet can never be anything but a witness to his time. All good poems chronicle the times their author’s lived in. This is because the poet lives at the crossroads of experience and expression.

LB: In your view, is there a relation between the power of the words of a poet and that of a dictator, since they both work with language? 

SJ: Poets keep the language in its most beautiful state, (more…) partner meeting @ poesiefestival berlin 2011

The 12th poesiefestival berlin from 17 to 24 June 2011 will be exploring landscapes of words, sounds and music. On June 19, the international partners of the lyrikline network will come together to exchange experiences and to focus on the next steps of development.
We expect partners from Belgium, Belarus, Catalonia, China, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Makedonia, The Netherlands, Portugal, Québec/Canada, Russia, Sweden, Serbia and  Slovenia.

For the fourth time, the festival will take place in cooperation with the Academy of the Arts, and will be held right by the Brandenburg Gate this year.  It will be featuring such stars of the international poetry scene as Marcel Beyer (Germany), Yves Bonnefoy (France) and Billy Collins (USA), the Cuban songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, actor, singer and violinist Iva Bittová (Czech Republic), and writer and singer-songwriter Peter Licht (Germany) – and many more.

An entire day will be devoted to the poets of the revolutions from Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Lebanon. The translation workshop ‘VERSschmuggel’ will feature poets from France and Germany. e.poesie will be exploring the relationships between contemporary poetry and electronic music.

Find the full programme of poesiefestival berlin 2011 here:

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Das 12. poesiefestival berlin durchforscht vom 17. – 24.6.2011 Landschaften aus Wort, Ton und Musik. In diesem Rahmen kommen am 19.6. wieder einmal die Partner des internationalen Netzwerkes von zusammen, um weitere Schritte und Projekte zu planen und Erfahrungen auszutauschen. Mit dabei sind Partner aus Belgien, Belarus, China, Dänemark, Estland, Katalonien, Kroatien, Makedonien, Niederlande, Portugal, Québec/Kanada, Russland, Schweden, Serbien, Slowenien u.a.

Das poesiefestival berlin findet zum vierten Mal in Kooperation mit der Akademie der Künste statt, dieses Jahr direkt am Brandenburger Tor. Mit dabei sind internationale Stars der Poesie wie Marcel Beyer (Deutschland), Yves Bonnefoy (Frankreich) und Billy Collins (USA), der kubanische Liedermacher Silvio Rodríguez, die Sängerin und Violinistin Iva Bittová (Tschechien), sowie der Autor und Singer-Songwriter Peter Licht (Deutschland) u.v.a.

Ein ganzer Tag widmet sich den dichtenden Tongebern der Revolutionen aus Bahrain, Ägypten, Tunesien, Libyen und Libanon. Der diesjährige Übersetzungsworkshop „VERSschmuggel“ gilt Dichtern aus Frankreich und Deutschland. Zeitgenössische Poesie und elektronische Musik bringt e.poesie in Relation.

Das Programm des poesiefestival berlin 2011: poets @ poesiefestival berlin 2011: Konstantin Ames, Marcel Beyer, Nico Bleutge, Nora Bossong, Tsead Bruinja, Arno Calleja, Ulrike Draesner, Ricardo Domeneck, Eduard Escoffet, Daniel Falb, Eugen Gomringer, Dieter M. Gräf, Hendrik Jackson, Jazra Khaleed, KIM HyeSoon, Ursula Krechel, Björn Kuhligk, Zvonko Makovic, Thomas Möhlmann, Nikola Madzirov, Maryia Martysevich, Gregor Podlogar, Marion Poschmann, Ulrike Almut Sandig, Kathrin Schmidt, Sabine Scho, Tom Schulz, Sjón, Ulf Stolterfoht, Ron Winkler, Uljana Wolf, Judith Zander