Coffee-break chat with Eleanor Rees, who is appearing at the Festival with Mona Arshi and Sarah Corbett on Monday 6 July in an event celebrating the launch of Pavilion Poetry, a new imprint of Liverpool University Press with Deryn Rees-Jones as Editor. She is also performing in our Versopolis Celebration of Emerging European Poets on Sunday 5 July.
1) If you could write poetry in another language, what would it be and why?
Welsh. I am fascinated but the richness of oral patterns in the cynghanedd but they are almost untranslatable.
2) If you could borrow one word from another language to use in your poetry what would it be?
hiraeth – a longing for a particular place or, importantly, a place that never was. (welsh)
3) Do you think poetry offers a medium to protest? (Poetry as Protest is a theme running through the Festival due to our partnership with English PEN)
Yes but not directly. The indirectness is the protest as the poetic is an expansion of self, an opening up into the outside beyond the self. In this moment poets and audience produce a collective space, a virtual wilderness or common ground in which the new can grow. Without this in the culture we don’t have enough light to thrive.
Poetry does ‘redress’ to use Heaney’s term but not just by pushing back against reality with the imagination, but by opening-out and unfolding the possibilities of what already exists in relation to the world.
4) What is the value of the Versopolis project for you?
I am excited to meet and hear poetry from across Europe, to find similarities and also differences which can challenge and inform my own practice. I’m also looking forward to meeting new audiences and understanding how my poems will be imagined differently by audiences in different countries. I see this as enacting the ideas I’ve mentioned above. I hope to produce imagined experiences where differences are allowed to exist and to be heard well. I hope to encourage a process of opening-up to the world and a comfort with multiple points of view.