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Culture in France

In France, springtime rhymes with poetry

Audio 10:00
Poster of "Printemps des Poètes"
Poster of "Printemps des Poètes" DR

Daffodils and birds return to their nests under light showers of rain. These images conjure up the spring season in northern Europe, but also recollections of poetry from the last century or even earlier writings inspired by nature. This year, the French annual Printemps des Poètes festival of events dedicated to poetry, chose "Poets of the 20th Century" as its theme. RFI's Rosslyn Hyams found that, in its 18th year, it is really in harmony with 21st art forms.

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The festival's artistic director Jean-Pierre Siméon is author of, among other things, a manifesto, La Poésie Sauvera le Monde, or Poetry Will Save the World.

He says that it provides for everyone "a sense of spirituality in a world where people are preoccupied with money and power."

While it's a festival with a strong French backbone with special events held day and night for more than two weeks, it is flexible and many international poets join in the range of events during the month of March.

It's like the shape of a "calligrame", as early 20th poet Guillaume Apollinaire chose to call his poems whose words took on various arabesque or other shapes on the page.

He's one of the featured poets this year, along with Paul Claudel, Blaise Cendrars, Saint-John Perse, Paul Éluard, André Breton, Louis Aragon, Henri Michaux,
Francis Ponge, Jacques Prévert, Raymond Queneau, Léopold Sedar Senghor, René Char, Aimé Césaire, Boris Vian, Andrée Chedid and many others.

This year, the festival paid tribute and showed support for a Palestinian poet called Ashraf Fayad, resident in Saudi Arabia and whose death sentence was commuted in February to eight years in prison and 800 lashes. He was found guilty of apostasy and the crime of apostasy and sentenced him to eight years in prison and 800 lashes. Fayadh was also ordered to disown his writings. Some of the poems have been translated into French.

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