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Poetry Festival

The city of Granada is mostly known for its tourist interest due to its history and architecture. However, the city has also been characterized by its cultural profile which transformed Granada into the host city for the International Poetry Festival since 2005. This event is a celebration of poetry and culture with poets from all over the world participating, and it is currently the largest poetry event in Nicaragua and Central America.

Every year a large number of prestigious poets are invited to the city to participate in the Festival, which was first initiated by the Civil Society group. Internationally recognized poets travel to Granada – a city which might be declared Cultural and Natural Patrimony of Humanity by the UNESCO, an initiative supported by poets of the previous festivals – to recite poems and participate in this cultural event.

Granada, the event’s stage

Forecourt of the San Francisco Convent,
one of the settings of the poetry festival.
Foto: Rodrigo Castillo S.

The colonial city of Granada was founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, just like the city of León. Granada, however, is still located on its original location contrary to the city of León. As a result of its strategic position on the shore of Lake Nicaragua (or Cocibolca) the city was seen as a great place for trade and commerce, and Granada even enjoyed significant political power when it alternated as capital city with León in the first years of the post-colonial Nicaragua. On the other hand, the same qualities made Granada an attractive target for English pirate invasions, entering from the San Juan River. The city was plundered repeatedly during the civil wars and in the year 1856 it was burned down by the U.S. filibuster William Walker.

For this fascinating historical background Granada turned out to be the best location for the poetry festival, offering not only inspiring architecture but also a setting that allows the event to take place inside the colonial buildings as well as outside on the spacious streets, plazas, churches, study centers, and markets – all attractive places where poets, spectator, listeners, inhabitants, and tourists can gather.

The Vanguardia

Nicaraguan poet Gioconda Belli
participating in the festival.
Foto: Rodrigo Castillo S.

The Vanguardia was a literary movement that started in Granada between 1927 and 1929, led by poet and maestro José Coronel Urtecho. One of his objectives, according to literary manifests published in 1931, was to “initiate a struggle to get the public attention through artistic expressions, intellectual scandal, and aggressive criticism”. Nowadays, a lot of the locations where the poetry festival takes place are the same places that were used by some of the poets of the movement to organize their meetings. One of these locations is the tower of the La Merced Church, where members like Joaquín Pasos, Octavio Rocha, Alberto Ordóñez, Luís Alberto Cabrales, Manolo Cuadra and Pablo Antonio Cuadra used to meet. This year (2007), the poetry festival is dedicated to this last poet, Pablo Antonio Cuadra.

Currently, all earlier festivals that have taken place were also dedicated to poets from Granada who formed part of this literary movement. Just like previous celebrations this year's festival attempts to recuperate and strengthen the national traditions.

This intention is clearly displayed during the celebration of the traditional “Poetic Carnival”, which is a symbolic burial of the ignorance, the intolerance, and the indifference – an event accompanied by parades of almost all of the characters of Nicaraguan folklore.

The Nicaraguan singer Norma Elena Gadea
giving a concert during the festival.
Foto: Rodrigo Castillo S.

More than poetry

The festival is a celebration that gives room to undertake more activities than just reciting poems, including the presentation of concerts of Nicaraguan and foreign singers, art expositions, carnivals, theatrical shows, and debates to discuss themes related to poetry.

This year the festival will take place between February 6 – 10 and the locations include the forecourts of the La Merced and San Francisco churches, the San Francisco Convent, the Plaza de Independencia, Plaza de los Leones, Casa de los Leones, Parque de la Poesía, and other plazas, markets, schools, and universities in Granada. There will also be activities in other municipalities close to the city like Niquinohomo, Diriá, Nandaime, Diriomo, Masaya, Catarina, San Juan de Oriente, Masatepe, San Marcos and Diriamba – all of these towns also offer their culture, gastronomy, and the cordiality of its inhabitants.

Earlier festivals

This is the third consecutive year that the International Poetry Festival takes place. This new tradition started as an initiative to expose the Nicaraguan poetic expressions on an international level, exchanging experiences with international poets.

In 2005 the tradition paid homage to the poet Joaquín Pasos (1914-1947) while also commemorating the 80th birthday of the poet Ernesto Cardenal (1925). A total of 90 poets participated in this first event, hauling from 25 different countries, in addition to the Nicaraguan poets residing in and outside Nicaragua.

The second edition that took place in 2006 was organized in honor of José Coronel Urtecho as it was a century ago that this poet was born. Additionally, the 80th birthday of the Nicaraguan-Salvadorian poet Claribel Alegría was also celebrated. On this occasion there were poets from 35 different countries, but the total number of participants remained the same.

This third edition of the festival is organized in honor of the poet, writer, playwright, critic, and ideologist Pablo Antonio Cuadra, who is considered the principal impeller of the search for the identity of the Nicaraguan people. The Romanian critic Stefan Baciú referred to this poet as someone with human nobleness and a humble heart.

Be sure to visit the city of Granada or the neighboring towns during the days of the event to get in contact with the most well-known poetic talents of Nicaragua and the foreign participants during this festival of cultural expressions, music, and dance; a great chance to admire the other side of poetry.

III Edition (2007)

A total of 153 poets from 43 countries will participate in this year’s event:

Angola: Antonio Goncalvez
Argentina: Emilce Strucch, Ana Wajszczuk, César Bisso, y José Muchnik
Austria: Christoph Janacs, Manfred Chobot y Bernhard Widder
Bahrain: Quassim Hadad
Belgium: Germain Droogenbroodt
Bolivia: Gary Daher Canedo
Brazil: Marilda Confortín y Thiago de Mello
Bulgaria: Dostena Lavergne
Canada: Al Hunter
Columbia: Harold Alvarado Tenorio y Luis Fernando Rendon
Costa Rica: Luís Chávez, Camila Shumacher, Oswaldo Sauma, Norberto Salinas, Maria Montero, Leda García
Cuba: Waldo Leyva y José Luís Moreno del Toro
Denmark: Thomas Borberg
Dominican Republic: José Acosta, León Félix Bastista y Mateo Morrison
Ecuador: Edwin Madrid de Chile, Omar Lara y Javier Campos
Egypt: Khaled Hegazzi
El Salvador: Alfonso Kijadurías, Manlio Argueta, Jorge Galán, Ricardo Lindo y Eleazar Rivera
England: Rowena Hill
Finland: Eira Stenberg
Germany: Eva Bourke
Guatemala: Ana María Rodas, Aida Toledo, Enrique Noriega, Javier Payeras y Otoniel Martínez
Honduras: Oscar Acosta, Waldina Mejía, Ixbalam (Edgardo Florian), Marco Tulio del Arca, Francesca Randazzo, Nelson Echenique y Karla Corea
Iceland: Birgitta Jonsdottir
India: Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy
Ireland: Rita Higgins
Israel: Amir Or
Italy: Paolo Ruffilli y Zingane Zingone
Mexico: Marco Antonio Campos, Roberto Arizmendi, Lina Zerón, Juan Armando Rojas Jo, Leticia Luna
Morocco: Said Akouad
New Zealand: Michael Harlow
Nicaraguans living outside Nicaragua: María Esperanza Morales, Milagros Terán, Daysi Zamora, Isis Pereira, Rubí Arana, Horacio Peña, Mario Santos, Jorge Eduardo Arguello, María Amanda Rivas, Donald Altamirano, Erick Blandón y Melaneo Enriquez Finlay.
Norway: Kisrsty Bloom y Morten Claussens
Panama: Benjamín Ramón, Javier Alvarado y Lucy Cristina Chau
Paraguay: Lilian Stratta
Peru: Carlos Germán Belli y Renato Sandoval
Puerto Rico: Vicente Rodríguez N, Marcos Rodríguez, Wenceslao Serra Delia y Etnairis Rivera
Rumania: Dinu Flamant
Senegal: Sara Carrera M’bodj
Spain: Luís Antonio de Villena, Chús García (visor), Luís García Montero, Rodolfo Hasler, Javier Lucena, Carlos Pardo y Sabas Martín
Sweden: Ingrid Lindgrend
Thailand: Chiranan Pitpreecha
United States: Edwin Tórres, Steven F. White, George Evans, Don Bogen, Demetria Martínez y Andy Young
Uruguay: Enrique Fierro, Ida Vitale y Laura Sabani
Venezuela: Gustavo Pereira

IV Edition (2008)

The fourth edition of the Poetry Festival is planned to take place between February 11-17, 2008. It will be dedicated to the poet Salomón de la Selva. The provisional invitee list and program can be downloaded below.


VIII Edition (2012)

More Information

International Poetry Festival:

We would like to thank the poets Francisco Ruíz Udiel and Mario Urtecho for their collaboration in creating this Special.