There’s a night that happens every year in Buenos Aires. It’s usually in spring and there’s always enough advertising done beforehand that you may have made plans to go with friends before the day of. La Noche de los Museos is a night in the city where every single museum is open to the public. It means art, art, and more art. It means you avoid the hell out of the MALBA, get to these places early, and head directly to that one gallery you’ve been wanting to go to, but never have enough beer money to sacrifice the entrance ticket for. What I like about this night is that it gives people access. People that maybe wouldn’t spend a Saturday afternoon roaming through a gallery end up going out and exploring the artists that make this city such an exciting place to be.
I’ve always been a fan of poetry. I find the form fascinating and alluring— like this musical puzzle just waiting to be solved, but the solutions to the puzzles are never definitive. Within its subjectivity lies access, an invitation for readers to interpret what they can, to suck out meaning from the lines that call their attention. Like all art, it provides a space to contemplate present societal issues, past experiences, to meditate on the bullshit and the beauty of it all. But I know, I know that what I find challenging and therefore seductive to decipher, other people find elusive and don’t want to bother. For me the simple fix lies in a little exposure therapy. I mean, outside of that one poem you were forced to annotate in high school, how much poetry have you been consuming lately? How many contemporary poets have you checked out recently? My guess is, not enough.
Ah, but friends we’ve got you covered. Your chance to immerse yourself is coming up this Saturday, June 15th. Inspired by nights like La Noche de los Museos, for the first time ever Buenos Aires is having La Noche de la Poesía (The Night of Poetry). In neighborhoods from Palermo to Boedo you’ll be able to listen to some of the best poets out there in the literary scene. We caught up with one of the organizers of La Noche de la Poesía, Martín Di Paolo, to hear more about the night and why poetry deserves our support.
What is the La Noche de la Poesía all about and how did you come up with the idea for the event?
La Noche de la Poesía is an event that will house over 70 writers, musicians, and different artists in 10 cultural spaces and neighborhoods in Buenos Aires in one night. This project was born out of asking how we could amplify and spread the work of poets in a context where the current cycles of poetry and the performances of its creators, in the cultural world and on the public stage, could be massively multiplied. Before we found an answer we thought about the experiences of other nights, like the Night of the Museums (La Noche de los Museos) as an example of how to shed light onto the literary genre that has always been marginalized. From there we could celebrate poetry coming together with other audiences that don’t normally consume this type of event or literature.
This project started while sharing a beer and chatting between three friends (Martín Di Paolo, Florencia Labaig, and Nicolás Vilchez). We jotted down some ideas and started to tell our friends and acquaintances in the literary scene about those ideas. We could see how well it was being received and asked ourselves, well why wouldn’t we bring it to a head? From there we started to bring on more and more people into the project. We formed a team and today there are 16 of us who are actively working, and so many more that are helping indirectly.
As this is the first edition, what are some of the things you are hoping for out of the event?
First of all, we hope that a lot of people come to this first edition. We are anxious and expect good things. We want to recognize the work of our poets. To listen to the voices that today come together as a result of so many social issues and the daily concerns that each one of us faces. From feminism, to love, to town visions, intimacy, emotion, there will be so many topics from distinct voices that will participate and that will be heard in every bar, every cultural space. We hope we can show this to people and bring this type of poetic repertoire into their homes. On the other hand, we know it’s the first edition and that we are limited. This is a self-started project and we don’t have any support from any businesses or government institutions. In spite of all that, we’ve got really good expectations for this first step.
The majority of the spaces that are participating are cultural centers. How did you choose the spaces and how did you choose the artists that will be participating?
We chose the spaces for their profile and identity, and because the spaces were already working with literary proposals, particularly with poetry events. It’s a sort of recognition for them in a very difficult moment that these cultural spaces are enduring, with this economic crisis (many of them function as bars and make their money through people buying drinks), and for the conflicts that they encounter with government authorities. Thanks to these spaces many of us who work in the cultural sphere have found a place where we can exhibit and show our work. We were also interested in highlighting some historical aspects of the city of Buenos Aires, with its writers, poets, and bars. Even though today the configuration of this relationship differs from former times, cultural spaces and bars remain a place to gather and celebrate our poetry and art in general.
Poetry is one of the oldest forms of art and, as such, we are interested in how poetry reinvents itself to remain relevant in the present day.
Poetry, like every other cultural expression transforms the permanent and inevitable. That expression and transformation is subject to the historical moment in each place and to the people that experience this time and space. Poetry doesn’t escape this dynamic, so in our country and fundamentally in the city of Buenos Aires, poets express a huge amount of diversity and plurality. Their voices are joined with so many causes and social issues, with aspects of everyday life, individual concerns and activities that are indicators of a much wider reality. That’s why there are so many sub-genres within poetry. You can find immigrant poetry, feminist poetry, slam poetry, political poetry etc. The sub-genres weren’t always so marked in respect to the esthetic and the formalism of language, but in certain occasions this criteria of the genre has to do with identifying certain themes that define a style. It’s a way of taking on this literature and poetry after the impulse and individual work of each author assigns a voice to their work, after they’ve done enough searching themselves. Then this reinvention, you could call say this style, is indefinite, plural, committed, diverse, conflicting. It’s an ongoing search with the same base in common: poetry today is marked by public participation and that’s why we’ve multiplied the cycles, publications, events, etc.
Why is it important to increase awareness of current, contemporary poetry?
It’s important that there’s more awareness for two reasons: the first being to give more visibility to the works of each poet and writer. The process of writing, publishing, and exhibiting each work is a lot of times very difficult, sometimes not as much. Where different industries work together (the editorial with the cultural) the poet/writer is one more link in the circuit where the work of the poet is underestimated. The second reason I think it is important is that through the voices of these works a set of social concerns that have to do with our culture, our history and our deep and diverse problems as a social collective is shared.
If you’re not in the poetry scene yourself how can you find out about different poetry events, book releases, and things of that nature?
Through social media. I think that poetry has stopped being marginalized in terms of cultural events, however it is still marginalized within the editorial industry. Therefore, poets go everywhere with their books. In these cultural events there are various artists from different disciplines that communicate their offers through social media. Following the poets and other artists on social media, you’ll find their poetry and their books. There’s no need to go to a bookstore or some poetry cycle. Through social media you can start to read these poets and know where they’re coming from and how they think.
How do you support artists in general here in Buenos Aires? And poets specifically?
My way of supporting artists is this: giving life to an idea like La Noche de la Poesía in Buenos Aires and materializing it. Socializing it, moving it, sharing it with friends and fellow cultural supporters. Because this is done by so many people, with hard work and conviction. Without my team and partners it wouldn’t have been posible to make this night such a big event. Another form of supporting is to share projects with other spaces and people within the cultural realm, to defend the work of others, with word of mouth, in cycles, on social media, in whatever encounter you have with strangers or people you already know. It’s almost a form of preaching, to permanently share. The diffusion is central, the way you diffuse it is what varies.
What do you hope to accomplish with this night of poetry?
I want to get across that poetry is for everyone and anyone, that poetry is more alive than ever in our city, in the voice of the hundreds of poets that run cycles, cultural spaces, share books. Poetry is all over and it’s a sort of passage that so many artists and people go through. For some it’s a form of life, a way of thinking and feeling. Poetry expresses so many social causes, ways of dealing with everyday life. It’s reflected in the voices of those who suffer, those who suffer injustices, those who are encouraged to say things for the first time in poetic code. It’s a way of communicating. It’s loaded with diversity and complexity, and in the first edition of La Noche de la Poesía de Buenos Aires we want to express that diversity, plurality, and heterogeneity that exists through these voices and themes and sub-genres. On June 15th in Buenos Aires this night will try to be a synthesis of these multiple aspects of the cultural life of Porteños.
Who are some of your favorite poets? Do you have any contemporary poets to reccomend us?
Paco Urondo, Oliverio Girondo, Alejandra Pizarnik, Roberto Santoro, Leónidas Lamborghini, Juan Gelman, Vicente Luy and the ones writing now. The poets that are still alive that are incredible, like Gabriela Borrelli Azara, Ema Vilches, Daniel Quintero, Jotaele Andrade, Fernando Bogado, Fabián Leppez. I really reccomend you read these last ones, the poets that are currently living.
If you had to give advice to a new artist or writer what would you say?
Ever since we published on social media about the Night of Poetry in Buenos Aires we’ve received so many messages from poets and writers that wanted to join and participate. This made me so happy. So many people told us that they are editing their first few works or starting to write. Our response is always to encourage and congratulate them. Get excited to write and share and publish because its a beautiful transformation that helps you grow a ton. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you’ll always grow through writing. In my opinion, you should continue participating and being touched by experiences that afterwards you can channel into writing, into projects and reflections that help others to think and live. This is the most important thing for me: that literature and writing is a form of living and sharing experiences that get at a sometimes very bitter reality.
When: Saturday June 15th at 20:00
Where: La Trama (México 1500), La Tribu (Lambaré 873), Despierta! (Lacroze 3578), Tano Cabron (Jean Jaures 715), Comuna O (Av. Boedo 325), La Gran Jaime Casa Cultural (Aráoz 832), Feliza (Av. Córdoba 3271), Cusca Kisun (San Lorenzo 365) and more.
Who: Gabriela Borrelli Azara, Brenda Andino, Paula Giglio, Rosa Rodríguez Cantero, Francisca Pérez Lence, Nadia Sol, Ema Vilches, Samantha San Romé, Sol Lorenzo, Alana Ferreyra, Corina Iglesias, Liliana Velendía, Bea Lunazzi y Julieta Desamrás and more.