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The “Nation of Poetry”: Language, Festival and Subversion in Macedonia

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This article critically examines the Struga Poetry Festival established in 1961 when it placed Macedonian poets and writers on the wider map of world poetry, international literature and language. With this the festival carried a subversive and an emancipatory task that not only promoted Macedonia's national poetry but also pushed the nation itself onto the world stage. Although highly politicized (and deeply political), the festival emerged as a seemingly apolitical event that celebrated the “universal language of poetry”. Yet, with its aesthetic form of an open event devoted to poetry, this festival (in a very Bakhtinian manner) pinpoints the obvious carnivalesque element in manoeuvring and subverting established social and political hierarchies. Initially, it allowed Macedonian language and poets to join established national states that have “undisputed” (or less disputed) literary traditions. The subversive nature of this festival after the 2001 military conflict in Macedonia changed the direction and intensity of the Albanian struggle for improving their status into the Macedonian society. This event has effectively allowed a minority group to initiate social movement and engage in serious identity politics related to territorial self-governance, language and cultural representation.
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Keywords: Festival; Macedonia; Nation-Building; Poetry

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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