THE TRANSFORMATION OF A DRUG CAPITAL: THE MEDELLÍN POETRY FESTIVAL
How the Medellín International Poetry Festival helped transform a troubled city into a world capital of poetry.
Medellín, Colombia, a city once notorious for being the epicenter of the cocaine trade, is reinventing itself as a global center for the living word. The Medellín International Poetry Festival was founded in 1991, when the streets of Medellín were at their most precarious. Organizers envisioned the Poetry Festival as a form of cultural resistance--a venue for cultivating peace and a protest against injustice and terrorism, including state terrorism. Over the past 20 years the festival has established itself as the largest of its kind in the world. Since its inception nearly 1,000 poets from 159 nations have come to Colombia, where more than 1,200 poetry readings have been held in 32 cities across the country. The festival was one of the recipients of the 2006 Right Livelihood Award, widely known as "The Alternative Nobel Peace Prize.” This short film documents some of the readings from the 2008 festival and highlights performers talking about the use of poetry as a tool for promoting peace and justice.