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First International Poetry Festival In NZ

First International Poetry Festival In NZ To Take Place In Wellington

16 - 19 OCTOBER 2003

For the first time ever in New Zealand, an international festival of poetry will take place in Wellington in October. The Festival, featuring 35 poets from 17 different countries, is the brainchild of Wellington-based Writers International, and will feature poets from Iraq; the horn of Africa, the mountains of Peru and the forests of Chile, as well as many top New Zealand poets.

The theme of the First Wellington International Poetry Festival is peace and reconciliation. The world is so full of conflict and war, and New Zealand is part of that, says Festival Co-ordinator, local poet Ron Riddell.

"Even though we have relative peace here, we send peace keepers and troops off into war zones, and we are part of the international community. Poetry can inspire peace, and help people to se things differently", he says.

"There will be poems for peace, poems of beauty and poems that will surprise and amaze the people who attend the Festival".

Mr Riddell got the idea for the Festival after taking part in the International Poetry Festival in Medellin, Colombia.

"It is huge, and completely lights up the town, with thousands of poets and the whole city transformed by poetry for several days. That inspired us to try to achieve the same thing in Wellington," he says.

Some events , featuring a combination of poetry and music, will be linked to the VIII Wellington International Jazz Festival.

A number of poets are travelling from overseas to attend the Festival. They include the internationally acclaimed Turkish poet - musician Türkay Iliçak, and two exciting new voices from the Cook Islands, Jean Tekura Mason and Vaine Wichman. Poets will read in their native tongues with English translations tread by local readers.

The Poet-patron of the Festival is Alistair Te Ariki Campbell. Other leading poets attending will include the celebrated Samoan poet Albert Wendt, J.C. Sturm, Riemke Ensing, (Netherlands -NZ) David Eggleton, David Howard (Dunedin), Emmad Jabbaar (Iraq), Basim Furat (Iraq), and Lewis Scott (U.S.A.)

The Wellington International Poetry Festival is sponsored by the Wellington City Council and Massey University., with support from the Alliance Française.

Wellington's mayor Kerry Prendergast describes it as " .a brilliant concept.; Wellington's first International Poetry Festival will stimulate, entertain, challenge and delight."

What: The Wellington International Poetry Festival

Where: selected venues in Central Wellington

When: from Thursday 16 October until Sunday 19 October, 2003.

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