Days of Poetry and Wine 2022

AUTHOR / Sara Strajnar

“Poetry lives in the heart of many people, and has a loyal and growing audience here, in Slovenia. It connects people and sensitizes them to great challenges ahead.” With these words, programme director Aleš Šteger, who has led the festival for twenty-six years, since its inception, bid farewell to the Days of Poetry and Wine Festival.

Days of Poetry and Wine are considered the largest and most recognizable international poetry festival in this part of Europe. This time, for the 26th year in a row, it has successfully combined poetic words and the promotion of the highest quality Slovenian wines. In addition to poetry and wine, a well-thought-out program in the fields of music, visual, photography, film and other arts for all ages and interest groups is prepared for festival visitors every year. And this year was no exception.

The Culture team visited the Days of Poetry and Wine 2022, the majority of which took place in Ptuj, the oldest Slovenian city. In addition to Ptuj, visiting poets impressed with their poetry in Ljutomer, Selca, Ljubljana, Belo, Ormož, Krško, Juršinci, Vitomarci, Murska Sobota, Petanjci, Janški vrh, and even in the neighbouring Austria.

This year, the focus was on contemporary Catalan poetry – accordingly, a literary translation workshop took place, where the Catalan poets Anna Aguilar-Amat, Anna Gual and Jordi Julià, together with their Slovenian colleagues Ana Svetel, Ivan Dobnik, Milan Jesih and translator Simona Škrabec, mutually translated their poetry. Furthermore, the honour of writing the Open Letter to Europe 2022 belonged to the Galician poet Chus Pato, who ensured an extraordinary opening of the Festival with the premiere reading of the Letter.

In the days that followed, many events unfolded – every evening, Grand Poetry Readings by the festival guests took place at the Ptuj City Market, which were followed by concerts of the Austrian duo ELIS NOA, the ever so popular Slovenian band Hamo & Tribute2Love, and the established Moveknowledgement. According to the guests, the most popular were Wicked Tastings!, which again this year, with Jože Rozman, a renowned wine publicist, writer on wine and cuisine, second-level sommelier, taster with passed exam at BF in Ljubljana, WSET III (Wine & Spirit Education Trust, London), did not disappoint. Film enthusiasts could watch a screening of the award-winning film Deadlock (Zastoj), directed by the Slovenian author in focus Vinko Möderndorfer, in the Ptuj City Cinema. The screening was enhanced by a tasting of sauvignon wines from the Salon Sauvignon Festival. A varied children’s program was also organised for the youngest visitors – all age groups and all tastes were really taken care of.

In addition, countless novelties occurred at this year’s festival. Visitors were to attend Poet to Poet, an event where two poets discuss the art of poetry without a moderator, and wonder where poetry comes from, what inspires poets and what distinguishes their works. Another novelty was the program section called Poet to Impro & Wine which brought together international poets with established and emerging artists and winegrowers from Slovenia. In this event, we tried to find out how poets respond to music, improvisation and words, as in most contemporary poetry the scope of improvisational indication is huge, which allows for a strong connection with musical improvisation and the exploration of diverse expressions of sound. The rain only slowed us down at the wine and culinary event Poetry of Wine. However, we were still able to relax at the Arty Party painting workshop: Paint and Wine, which impressed us the most, as it proved to us that wine can really open up all our artistic senses, even if we are not a natural talent ourselves. The Wellness of Mind and Body workshop took care of the exercise, our ears were caressed by the melodies of the musician Tomaž Hostnik, and our taste buds were awakened by the wines of Cvitenič.

During the festival, we were able to chat with the guests of honour, the American poet Carolyn Forché and the Polish poet Tomasz Różycki, who will reveal to you in the video why have they decided to participate in the festival, what do they write about and for whom, and what they think of Slovenia, which both guests visited for the first time. In addition to them, 18 other poetic guests from all over the world performed at the Festival. They were chosen by the curator of the festival, the poet Kristina Kočan, and their selected works were published in an attractive poetry booklets.

In the video, Kristina Kočan, who recently received Veronika’s prize for her poetry collection Selišča, as the future programme director of the festival, presented us with her perspective on the festival, what challenges she faced as this year’s curator, what she was most happy about, and what she can promise us in the future.
Undoubtedly, the next festival will be quite different, as instead of Sabina Tavčar, Taja Islamovič will step into the shoes of the executive producer of the festival. She said that the key to success is a good team, with which she looks forward to further cooperation. Of course, we cannot wait to see what new things Kristina and Taja will prepare for us next year.

The festival once again showed how perfectly poetry and wine complement each other. In addition to poetic guests from all over the world, we met many excellent Slovenian winemakers, with whom we talked about what kind of creative stamp have they left on their wine, just as poets left it in their verses.

Poetry definitely has a future. May it continue to be so bright and exciting.