From Iceland — THE NEXT IDOL…


Published August 20, 2004

Poetry Stakes Its Claim on Entertainment


Poetry Stakes Its Claim on Entertainment

Ten poets will compete to be the next great…well, to win some prizes, probably (Davíð is on the prowl for them as we speak and is aiming for something like plane tickets). The poets will gather on culture night to read their work in front of a panel of judges and an audience, both of which will decide who advances to the next round.

The poets will endure three rounds. First, they will read a poem by another author (the work must be at least 50 years old), and then in round two they will read their own work. Finally, there will be a true battle of anxiety coping mechanisms as the remaining poets are given two lines of poetry around which they must improvise, lashing out with brilliance in metered proportions.

“Another aim is to get a broad spectrum of poets,” he says, “to mix some youngsters with more established writers. That’s the whole point of it; to blend them all together.”

The panel of judges is not decided yet, but Davíð hopes to get a nice mix of literary folks with some pop singers, to make sure that the judging methods are diverse. Whoever he rounds up, it’s bound to be a pretty distinct event. “I really didn’t expect to be able to make it happen,” Davíð tells me. But with the help of Edda, the publishing house, who is helping with funding, it all fell into place.

So maybe it won’t exactly be the high-tension seat-gripper of a show that, say, 10 singing teenagers can turn out. But the potential is certainly there. “It has always been like a national sport to write poetry,” Davíð says.

On his website, a forum for poets to share their work, Davíð has seen Icelanders’ devotion to this art form. “In the last 5 or 10 years people have been talking about the death of poetry…it’s the same in many other countries, the same discourse. But we’ve had this website open for almost 3 years now and people are pouring in their poetry and traffic on the site is just great. We have no worries about the life expectancy of poetry. People don’t necessarily go out and buy poetry, but it’s something that will always be present.”

Those interested in participating in the competition can send their poems to Davíð; log on to the poetry website and email away. If that’s a little too extroverted for you, you can be part of the audience, part of the magic and, in your mind, play the role of Bubbi.

The event, called Skáldat 2004 (“Poetry Competition”), will take place on culture night (21 August) at Tjarnarbíó at 8:00pm. The event is free of charge.

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