The art form of the spoken word takes over Odense again
Odense is invaded by words once again during the annual Spoken Word Festival that takes place from 17th August to 27th August. I still remember when the festival started in 2010: like a fresh breath of words. Now the festival has taken over all of the Odense, from Studiestuen to Vollsmose Kulturhus and Den Fynske Opera. And the spoken word is in the centre of it all. Readings or recitings as a performance. Spoken Word Festival still stands strong with its own profile and purpose, sharing words - the spoken words. To share them, reflect, entertain, overwhelm and surprise. In short: to explore what the spoken word can do.
This diversity is also evident in this year’s program, which includes everything from stand-up to lectures to stories about bitter old men, told by bitter, old men. The clever and versatile selection of poetry brought from all the corners of the world. And even though I think all of it should be seen, I have selected some special pearls that both emphasise the spoken word festival's all-encompassing vocabulary, but also look after your wallet.
Studenterhuset makes room for the sound of poetry and the development of the art form
Look forward to a cohesive response to all that marvels us in life. Photo: David Ramirez Gomez.
It was a couple of decades ago that people flocked to smoky rooms where a pulsating base concluded Rune T. Kiddes poems about everyday life, the road and the lady, whom he once loved. Playing music at poetry readings has been on retreat for many years, like the smoky rooms. Many still know the spoken word trio ‘We Are Just Sitting Here With Jørgen Leth, Michael Simpson and Frithjof Toksvig’ (‘Vi Sidder Bare Her med Jørgen Leth, Michael Simpson og Frithjof Toksvig’), who have brought spoken word back into Danish consciousness. The Spoken Word Festival offers you to enjoy poetry, that is enhanced by complex music. The music that wraps the words. Grab them in hand or turn their backs on them. This part of the spoken word art form continues to unfold and evolve, and one of the very interesting names this year is ALLE SVARENEs concert on August 26th.
ALLE SVARENE is a mix of videography, electronic music and voices of the young and the old, who both together and each on their own explore all our basic human conditions. I hope for a bombardment of chaotic combination of love, art, education and nature. I hope to get answers to all that we do not know, maybe we can find out together if we REALLY listen to each other. I hope that the artist, David Nordtoft, blows my senses and gives me the "what happened" creative ecstasy.
If my SU-funded account allowed me to spend more than hundred kroner for an event, I would like to be blown away by the troubadour Nikolaj Nørlund. He performs together with pianist Adi Zukanovic and a handful of strings. Nørlund performs his latest album ‘Villa’ on August 19th.
Furthermore, if it does not rain on August 24th, the concert at the Amfiscenen is also at the top of my list. First on stage is the spoken word duo Virga together with musician Nicolas Koch-Simms on the turntable and loop pedals and poet Nikolaj Johansen, focusing his poems to man and nature. Afterwards multi-talented Kristian Leths takes over Odense with his stories.
When the story stands for itself
Pack the knitting needles and take a tour into Jens Peter Madsen and Anne Marie Nielsen's Home-knitted Stories. Photo: Historiefortæller Jens Peter Madsen
I saw this performance a few years ago. And I am looking forward to Home-knitted Stories again on August 21st. Odense's grand-old storyteller Jens Peter Madsen is joined by Anne Marie Nielsen for an evening filled with calm, stories and knitting. Well, I am not a big knitter, and it is certainly not a requirement to be able to swing the needles to the rhythm of the story. You can also just come to enjoy listening. There is something special about being able to disappear into a tale, and it becomes even more special when the story is told by true storytellers.
It is not an experience that leaves you blown away. You are more likely to leave with a sense of calm and acceptance of being a part of someone else's story. It of course, requires that you dare to listen to the simple, big things that you are being told.
The open word and your words
Grab your diary, listen to some else's and (maybe) learn why it may be nice to share the bit too embarrassing and way too personal stories. Photo: Katinkamusik
Den Fynske Opera hosts the open words on August 25th. The words that open you up and make you laugh like no other and cry like no other. The diary is a special genre at the Spoken Word festival, because the diary often contains all the things we would never ever say out loud. At the same time, however, it is often the innermost thing, which is written down, sung and expressed. The Spoken Word Festival has invited Katinka Bjerregaard, who often talks about what happens when true honesty becomes public. At the same time there is also an opportunity to get to better know Katinka Bjerregaard's band Katinka. Furthermore, very brave people will read out from their diaries, as we know from the "Dear Diary" television program, which was broadcast on DR.
Golden one-liners, hardy golden grains and (hopefully) golden beer
Let distinctive, well-articulation, ingenuity and hard-wearing beats leave you speechless. Photo: Thorsten Iversen.
This year's Spoken Word festival program has also made room for some painful words. On purpose. Fortunately. WomBattles and Pede B take over Studenterhuset on the 17th of August with freestyle rap competition, and as Pede B himself says, "Those who say that Fight Night Rappers are useless / Can get a pair of cement shoes and we will see if they can walk on water" in the song Isbjørn. Freestyle rap is both enormously fun, very difficult and intricate, which is a combination for an entertaining evening - and preferably with many golden beers.
If it seems a bit like gibberish, then The Retoric Battle on the 21st of August may also be a good place to experience the evil words.
The wonders of the translation and reflections
An artist talk that explores the art of translation. Photo: Lyrikporten.
The poet Ursula Andkjær Olsen says in her award-winning poem collection ‘Det tredje årtusindes hjerte’: ”Du er mit // fremmedlegeme, // navnlegeme, / sagnlegeme, / favnlegeme. // Hvis din død er meningsløs, må det være, fordi du er mening, og din / forsvinden ville være forsvinden af mening, dér i mit fjerne indre, dér, / dér rinder mening ud, rinder rose, navn / ud. //”. It's beautiful, straight-forward and incredibly painful. There is a rhythm determined by breaks and intelligent use of the Danish language. And the use of the Danish language creates painful circles in the written expulsion of an abortion. How can that pain be translated so that it appears as powerful, desperate, confusing and meaningful in English? What about the rhythm, the rhymes?
Each language has its own force. Its own distinctive character, accents and words. It recalls me to the lyrics classes I attended couple of semesters ago, in which we were presented with two very different translations of a poem. Ever since, the question has followed me every time I have to translate something: what the hell should I do?
Ursula Andkjær Olsen is flanked by translator Katrine Øgaard Jensen during an artist talk on the 26th of August. Ursula will read ‘Det tredje årtusindes hjerte’ and Katrine will read the translation of ‘The Third-Millennium Heart’. Afterwards, they will talk about how the hell it is done - the right translation. I am looking forward to it; not necessarily to get an answer, but to become much smarter and get an insight into a translator's work.
Click on the links to events to see location, time and price. And enjoy yourself!