International Poetry Festival in Granada

The annual International Poetry Festival in Granada has grown from small beginnings to be a prestigious event, drawing poets and poetry enthusiasts from around the world. In 2013, the 9th edition of the festival took place on 17-24 February, and paid homage to Ecuadorian poet, priest and sculptor, Ernesto Cardenal, who gave a reading of his works at the San Franciso Convent on the Friday of the eight-day festival.

With the motto “Poetry is the song of the cosmos” the event featured 83 poets from 58 countries, in addition to 40 poets from Nicaragua. Event organizer Fernando López noted that the International Poetry Festival in Granada had become firmly established as top cultural event in the Americas, and had become ‘obligatory’ for poets to attend. He went on to say that Granada’s Poetry Festival was rivaled only by the annual poetry festival held in Medellín, Colombia, which had already been running for twenty years.

Long recognized as an iconic literary figure in Nicaragua, Ernesto Cardenal is also known for the important role he has played in establishing and supporting Nicaragua’s independence. Born in Granada in January 1925, Cardenal studied literature in Managua, Mexico and New York, before spending time in Spain, Italy and Switzerland in 1949-1950. Having spent time at the Trappist Monastery of Gethesemani in the US, and later studying theology in Mexico, Cardenal was ordained as a Catholic priest in Granada in 1965. In addition to his love for poetry and dedication to the church, Cardenal has continued to speak out in favor of what he believes to be right for the land of his birth, and is an outspoken critic of current Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Ernesto Cardenal’s achievements include the 1980 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade; the 1990 Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award; the 2009 Ibero-American Poetry Prize Pablo Neruda; and the 2012 Queen Sofia Prize for Ibero-American Poetry.

Special celebrity guest at the International Poetry Festival was Nicaragua-born human rights advocate, Bianca Jagger. Currently living in London, Ms Jagger is the European Council’s Goodwill Ambassador, the founder of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, and she sits on the Leadership Council of Amnesty International.

The festival program featured poetry-related events, as well as music, dancing and other cultural and artistic performances.