A TRAVELING PROJECT
Polyfonías Poetry Project has been underway for 10 years, the last five as a trio. In fact, it was on the occasion of the presentation concert of the CD-book Polyfonías, which I had recorded with the Danish-Argentinian guitarist and composer Mark Solborg, that the Spanish clarinettist Salvador Vidal joined the project.
A few weeks after the publication of Polyfonías, the introductory poem on the CD, “Un idioma sin fronteras” (a language without borders), won the second prize in the international arts contest 2008culturas.com which the Spanish Ministry of Culture had organized to celebrate the European Year of Intercultural Debate. Since then we have presented "Polyfonías” in eight European countries and performed at several major literature festivals, such as the Cuírt International Festival of Literature in Ireland, the Berlin Poesiefestival, Poetry on the Road in Bremen and Cph:Litt. in Denmark, in large part thanks to the collaboration of the Cervantes Institute.
Meanwhile – as I have progressed with my writing – we have added new polyphonic poems to our repertoire, and last year we took advantage of an invitation to perform at the Copenhagen Literature Festival to go into the Karmacrew Sound Studios to record the sixteen polyfonías that we have premiered as a trio. I felt that the time had come to give our audience a chance to acquire my poems as performed by the same trio that they were accustomed to see on stage.
It is this collection that I am now – with your inestimable support – trying to publish. Unless we reach the 6000€ goal for this Verkami crowdfunding campaign, the work will have to wait to be published (and no doubt in a different format) and you will not have the opportunity to obtain any of the rewards that we offer in return for your pledge. Of course we won’t charge your credit card either. In other words: It is essential that you make a pledge if you want this work to see the light of day.
THE BIRTH OF POLYFONÍAS
It was in 2003 that I – on the spur of the moment and to my own surprise – wrote Un idioma sin fronteras, my first polyfonía. I had received an invitation to read some poems on Radio Exterior de España and – flattered and without giving it a second thought – I said yes. I had barely hung up when it struck me that they probably thought that I had written some poems in Spanish or at least had had some of my work translated into Spanish. After all, the aim of Radio Exterior de España was to promote and spread the Spanish language abroad and keep it alive among Spanish immigrants in non-Spanish-speaking environments.
Caught off-balance, I immediately set on the task of writing a poem in my host language, but when I finished the first stanza I had already used words and expressions from the three other cultures that a nomadic life had made me part of and that in turn had become part of me. My native Danish culture, the French culture of my childhood, first nest and offspring and, finally, the American culture of jazz, my lifelong musical affair.
Dentro de mí/viven cuatro personas, each/with their own voice,/su propia/lengua,/sa propre langue./Hver med sit eget sprog/og sin egen stemme.//No disputan: habla/quien ha de hablar,/the one who comes up with the best/and truest word/le mot juste….
Since the radio programme that had invited me – “Un idioma sin fronteras” – dealt with literary translinguism, I decided to pay homage to it and name my poem accordingly. This was to prove a premonitary choice: The discovery that polyfonías could serve as a proof that poetry fundamentally is “a language without frontiers” has since become the key to the development of my poetics.
My interest in orally transmitted poetry and my calling as a musician soon prompted me to start searching for musical improvisers in order to add their instrumental voices to my poetic voice.
In 2004 I contacted Mark Solborg – one of the most original and sensitive musicians on the Danish improvisatory scene – to ask him to help me develop the instrumental dimension of my, still nascent, polyphonic poetry project. That fall we had the good fortune to both earn grants to the Andalusian Fundación Valparaíso in Mojácar, where we spent a month working out and recording the first nine polyfonías.
After our Andalusian sessions Mark returned to Copenhagen, and for the next three years I recited in duo with the clarinettist Salvador Vidal from Valencia, home to some of Spain’s finest reed players. When the CD-book Polyfonías was published in 2008, Mark and I invited Salvador to join us for the presentation concert. The Peter Wessel Polyfonías Poetry Project had been born.
TO THOSE FOR WHOM THE UNKNOWN IS NOT ALIEN
Our tours have convinced me that there are people with taste, sensibility and personal values who dare to seek other stimuli than raw, rational meaning when they listen to poetry. Who, instead of letting themselves be knocked off course when they hear a word they don’t understand, open their senses to the spoken word’s other qualities – first of all to the music and the associations to regions with other language- and lifepatterns than their own. It can be a great advantage to be able to create larger meanings from the polyphonic soundscape which we are confronted with in modern society where one’s own language runs the risk of being drowned out by other languages.
Although you may be a scattered group, I am sure that you are also a sizeable group of “polyfoníaphiles” who want to be sure to get yourself a copy of Delta. Luckily, today we are only a click from one another. We really do live in a global village where the physical distance is easily overcome. Polyfonías Poetry Project is poetry and music for people who have learnt to appreciate their own thoughts in their struggle through life.
This kind of discriminating people tend to meet in communities of interests rather than in housing communities: although they live worlds apart they live in the same world and will meet on the web or see each other at concerts, exhibitions, festivals etc. Delta will hardly be of interest to publishers whose main regard are the sales figures and rationalized distribution. It is neither rational nor economically advisable to try to reach 200 clients in the United States, another 200 in France, another 200 in Spain, and still another 200 in Denmark, etc. For you and for me, on the other hand, the dispersion is no problem: what is essential is that the diversity is preserved and that art and the individual creativity can survive in spite of the dictates of trends and fashion.
Crowdfunding guarantees the flow between the artist and his/her public. “Micro-sponsorship” – as this modern form of financing is sometimes called – is a fine example of what we might call direct democracy on the marketplace: what is produced is a product of a shared interest, something that means something to the community of interests and that they therefore decide to finance, not a product created by economic interests which the marketplace tries to convince us that we need.
In other words: By putting up money for what he or she wants to see produced instead of buying what the marketplace offers, the buyer has changed from the role of client to that of producer with the benefit of having a part in the goods produced.
THE MEDIEVAL FRENCH VILLAGE OF CONQUES, HOMESOIL OF "POLYFONÍAS"
Since we live in each our corner of Europe – Mark in Copenhagen and Salvador and I in Madrid – we have settled on a place midway for rehearsals and exchange of ideas. It would be hard to find a more ideal place for an intercultural and translingual project than Conques, spiritual watering-place on the Way of Saint James that leads through Europe to Santiago de Compostela near the northwestern finistierra of Spain.
I found this town of my dreams thirty-five years ago. This is where I collect inspiration and where I wrote In Place of Absence, my second book of poetry. In Conques the herbal juices that later should yield Polyfonías started brewing.
On the occasion of the 2010 edition of the annual music festival Conques – la Lumière du Roman, our trio managed to gather the entire population of the village for a concert-reading under the magnificent linen-tree whose crown gives shade to Place Chirac overlooking the church. Since then Polyfonías Poetry Project has had its home in Conques as a contemporary artistic ressource to the town where little Saint Foy, martyr and majesty, still works her mischievous wonders.
There are several reasons. 1: The Greek letter delta is a triangle, and this book presents Polyfonías Poetry Project in trio-format. 2: Δ is the fouth letter in the Greek alphabet, and my poetical language nourishes itself on words and expressions from four cultures. 3: In Hebrew the fourth letter Daleth ד means “door” and you can’t pass unchanged through Conques. Hopefully Delta too will open doors in you. 4: “D” is the first letter in “Denmark”, my native country. 5: The river delta is a recurrent theme in my poems. 6: To stress my point that Polyfonías is not a mixture of languages, but a single poetic idiom, I wanted to find a title for my book which would be the same in English, French, Spanish and Danish. 7: The Origin of the World – matrix of creativity – is also surrounded by a delta of hair.
A PUBLISHER OF CHOICE AND AN ARTIST WITH A GIFT FOR DIALOGUE
Publishers who love books are today a threatened species. That is why I feel very fortunate that José María Gutiérrez de la Torre, founder and director of Ediciones de la Torre in Madrid has offered to collaborate in the Delta crowdfunding project. This is a guarantee that every detail in the production of the book will be done with utmost care and refined taste. José María is very fond of poetry and is convinced that it is a language that children should be familiar with from an early age in order to keep their imagination and sensitivity alert, and the small, independent De la Torre publishing house has always dedicated special attention to poetry collections for young readers.
Another of José María’s soft spots is Nordic literature and many of Scandinavia’s finest writers have found their way to Spanish readers thanks to him. It is hardly a coincidence if this distinguished and discerning publisher has now taken interest in a a collection of “polyphonic “ poems written by a Danish poet equally at home in four different cultures and interpreted by his Danish-Spanish trio.
It was José María de la Torre who introduced me to the delicate, penetrating and at the same time passionate work of Spanish artist Dinah Samara. Dinah is also a great lover of poetry and she has collaborated with Ediciones de la Torre on several noteworthy projects, such as “Miguel Hernandez: para niños y niñas y otros seres curiosos” (2007). While this book is a marvellous illustration of Dinah’s sensitivity to the child’s world, it was nevertheless not her drawings for this publication, but rather her amazing technique and the depth of feeling of her collages which convinced me that I had found the perfect pictorial partner for Delta.
I was not seeking illustrations for my poems; what I was hoping was to find a graphic artist who shared some of my ethical and esthetic preoccupations and with whom I could enter into a creative dialogue. Dinah and I had both crossed many borders before we met, and when we talk we understand one another. It is this convergence between the spoken languages which is reflected in our artistic endeavors. That’s where the discovery takes place.
WHAT WE NEED NOW…
is 6.000 € to be able to publish Delta as a book-cd of a quality that will live up to its content. We are planning to print 750 handsomely crafted books on heavy, high-quality recycled paper in which poetry and music – produced according to Mark Solborg’s usual fastidious standards – and the artwork of Dinah Salama will merge into something close to a gesamtkunstwerk. On a more prosaic note we will also have to cover the expenses for postage, handling, rewards and presentations.
YOU DON’T PAY UNTIL WE REACH THE GOAL
As you will see in the “contribute” column to the right, you have different categories of sponsorship to choose between. Or – to put it differently – the more you put into the project, the better and more delicious your reward will be. In any case your credit card will not be charged until we are sure to be able to publish the book. That is, when we have reached the 6000€ we need.
A crowdfunding campaign is a huge effort for everybody involved, but it is also an exciting period where we have to pool our best efforts to reach our goal so that Delta can be a joy for our eyes, ears, mind and thoughts. We therefore hope that you also will do a practical job of involving as many of your friends as possible, by telling about the project and sending links to “family, friends and fools”.
WE’LL SPRING BEFORE SPRING HAS SPRUNG
If the campaign is a success, we should be able to present Delta by the beginning of March. The copies to be sent by mail will be posted a week ahead.
A POEM FROM DELTA
After reading all this, you will no doubt welcome the opportunity to read and listen to “Conques, la quête” from the new book. It is an ideal introduction to the world of polyfonías:
Conques, la quête
En Concas, cette conche,
tout arrive et tous repartent,
et rien ne s’en va,
tous se lèvent et tout s’enlève.
Et tout reste.
søgende sjæle med hus på ryggen,
almas en vilo con sus vidas a cuestas.
ojos en quête buscando, cher-
chant des yeux en paix.
Bon voyage, fare thee well, ultreïa.
Ici il faut être une ronce
ou un lierre
pour soulever les pierres
et casser les murs.
Campanas, klokker, bells
no rompen el silencio.
Sólido, minéral. In-