Skipping the part where I got lost before finding the right room or having a coffee, we should start with a brief description of the landscape. My excitement went way behind what I expected. Way behind my appetite, which is usually my understanding of infinite. But not this time. I was there since the beginning, everyone seemed lost before entering the first room for the kick-off. I was amazed by the scenery. The international poets were sitting against a view of the dirtiest river I’ve ever got inspiration from, the London Eye and its new Christmas attraction and above all the old Big Ben. It was twelve o’clock, I felt I was in proper Britain for the first time. I wished the Big Ben had rung and turned the magic on. It did not seem necessary though. And History repeated itself.
Precisely fifty years ago, Ted Hughes would start this amazing event where international poets would be listened to. He believed that more than ever their History needed poetry. He believed more than ever poets needed to speak the ‘universal language of their heart’ and just like me, most of them arrived late. From what I understood, every year, this festival and their poets needed to be heard more than ever. After all, “the poem is our sword, our form of resistance”. And with the reading of his poem Skylarks, Ted Hughes launched us to London Literature Festival 2017.
I believe the first thing I noticed, after a good half an hour admiring the Southbank view, was the gestual language translators. My eyes leave them when the speakers say quotes that I want to remember forever, but as I know I won’t, I limit myself to quickly stretch it in my notebook. They use wonderful prose, from themselves, from their mentors, from the moment and the atmosphere in the room. And between “Poetry is our unique mother tongue” or expressions as “meeting in a poem” we are given explanations that can only be given by those who get inspired as simply as we do. I also love how the international speakers do not speak perfect english. How one can easily understand what they saying and what their cultural background is. It makes me smile for sharing more than the passion for poetry under those terribly strong lights. Indian, Chinese, British. And there is at least one more thing in common, they mention what I believe it was the key to start writing my own poetry: no one creates poetry for others. In fact, to write good poetry we have to find it within ourselves before meeting the others. Poetry is then against propaganda. And for that reason, inside that room no one took a single photo to the panel. We communicate with stares and sighs and smiles and gestures and even snoring. And then, later on, in the evening, by ourselves, we write it down pretty much how we felt to communicate to the others.