by Mette Karisvik
Oslo International Poetry Festival (OiP) is the largest international festival of avant garde and experimental poetry in Norway. It is an independent festival run by a small group of programmers who seek out and bring together the best and most interesting underground poetry in the world. This year, due to the tireless effort of our volunteers, we are proud to present poets and thinkers like Christian Bök and Adam Dickinson (Canada), Jesper Hoffmeyer and Elisabeth Friis (Denmark), as well as several Norwegian cross-media artists who are collaborating to create multimedia and combined music and poetry productions.
The festival was first organized by the legendary Norwegian author Axel Jenssen some twenty years ago. After a decade of no activity, the festival was revitalised by Birgit Hatlehol. The 2014 festival is her ninth festival as director.
For the past four years we have been initiating new musical compositions where avant garde composers such as Maja Ratkje, Frode Haltli and Tanja Orning choose a poet they would like to compose music for. Some of the resulting productions have gone on to be shown at the Nathional theatre in Oslo and the Dramaten Royal Scene in Stockholm. We also commission new work from poets and ask musicians to improvise to their readings.
OiP 2014 is a thematic festival and this year poetry meets science. The humanities interplay with biology, chemistry, physics and maths. As part of this we are featuring The Xenotext: the current project in progress by Christian Bök. Bök has encoded a poem as a sequence of DNA so that when implanted into the genome of a microbe this text will be ‘expressed’ by the organism, which in response to the grafted, genetic sequence, begins to manufacture a viable, benign protein—one that, according to Bök’s original chemical alphabet, is itself another text.
Another example from the programme is a meeting between professor of biosemiotics Jesper Hoffmeyer and professor of literature Drude von der Fehr. They will explore the following: What does a body know and how can we access or articulate this knowledge? What can humanities learn from biology and biosemiotics in this respect – and vice versa?
And much, much more… OiP is four days of events at four of the most interesting venues in the Norwegian capital. Interesting venues indeed, as Oslo is a growing city – culturally and demographically. Kunstnernes Hus and Litteraturhuset (The House of the Artists and the House of the Authors, respectively), will feature a prologue by multimedia-artist Cia Rinne, highlights from contemporary Canadian poetry: Angela Rawlings, Jordan Scott, Christian Bök and Adam Dickinson, and digital poetry by Swedish renaissance man and multitalent Johannes Heldén.
You can also experience the piece BodySearches/PoetryMachine: a collaboration between Norwegian poet Jon Ståle Ritland and Dutch artist Michiel Koelink. It uses custom-made 3d software art from Michiel Koelink to display poetry by Jon Ritland from the publication Bodysearches (Broken Dimanche Press, 2013).
There will also be performances from Norwegian poets such as Aasne Linnestaa and Harald Sverdrup. They, and other poets, have been commissioned by OiP to create performances that bring together poetry and music. Thus we are presenting great sensory and aesthetic experiences as well as panel discussions by some of the leading thinkers in the field.
So from the 4th to the 7th of September: Welcome to Oslo!