I get to travel a bit as part of my 'job'. Its no secret that poets sometimes get to travel to different parts of their countries or indeed to other countries in order to share their work. Its been an amazing half decade for me, I've always wanted to see the world but it was never really something I could afford to do on my own. But now sometimes I wake up and realize that the street in my dream was one I walked in Copenhagen or that I recognize some building from my favorite crime drama because I sat lost on the stoep trying to read a map there once. I mostly love getting to meet some of my favorite poets in person and discovering ones whose books I may not have picked up in a bookstore who not only add to my list of favorites but who I instinctively quote in a recording studio on Buttmanstrasse (which has to be the coolest street name in the world).
As you can tell I'm easily pleased and nothing makes me happier than being able to bring a little bit of the world back home with me. I share my collection of books (my return luggage is always overweight) with some of the young writers that I work with mainly because the cost of books locally is prohibitive and we don't have a strong second hand book market but I love when I can 'carry' back actual poets. And so to cut a long story short through a Swedish Arts Council funded initiative the arts organization I run took myself and 3 other Batswana to Sweden in October to do some readings and we are now happy to be hosting 4 Swedish poets in Gaborone between November 20th and 24th. They are visiting a number of government aided schools, participating in a secret gig open only to local poets as both readers and audience, giving a (free) talk at the University of Botswana on 22nd Nov as well as participating in the festival finale on Saturday the 23rd Nov at the Mantlwaneng (which means place of play) Theatre. The 4 poets are:
LAURA WIHLBORG is a poet and Poetry Slam champion. Laura represented Sweden at Poetry Parnassus in London - an international poetry festival featuring poets from over 200 countries. She performed at the International Literature Festival in Berlin. And toured Europe with the poetry show Smoke and Mirrors. Laura has a degree in radio production and radio theatre from the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic arts.
Jörgen Gassilewski’s first collection of poems, Du (You) came out in 1987 and his tenth pärla barbie klistermärke Vi hade vi inte. Kommer inte att. Skulle komma att. Kunde inte tro att. Visste inte att (translated as - Pearl barbie sticker We had we not. Will not. Would. Couldn’t believe that. Didn’t know that) in 2012. His poetry is collected in a 3 volume box set – Hittills samlad poesi 1983-2009. He runs OEI, a magazine for experimental writing. In 2006 he published the documentary novel The Gothenburg events.
HENRY BOWERS is one of Europe’s leading slam-poets. Known and acclaimed as one of Sweden’s best hip-hop acts Henry Bowers is also known as Kung Henry. Henry’s poetry reflects society and himself. It is intelligent, sharp and to the point. He breaks down the wall between high culture and mass culture taking influences from and referring to everything from horror films and children’s stories to classic masterpieces and great philosophers, everything combined with a dose of irony and humor.
SAM KESSEL is an actor and poet. Starting early in feature films and TV he now mainly acts on stage. This year he is starring in the theatre show “God is away on business” based on Tom Waits music. Sam won the Triathlon Swedish National Slam award 2009. His poetry is angry but also hopelessly romantic.