The Art of Poetry

Es Comú Muro Mallorca

Allow me, please, to remind you that today, March 21st, we celebrate the World Poetry Day. The marking originates from a decision made by UNESCO in 1999 in Paris to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities. Much to my regret, the Mallorcan language is one such endangered language.

Poetry is not just verbal or lingual; poetry is manifested in sound and in movement, in disposition and in structure, in shape and in chaos. There is poetry in nature, in life forms, in ritual and in art; there is poetry in maths and in music; poetry can simply be found everywhere and at all times.

There was poetry in yesterday’s eclipse of the sun, unfortunately not visible in Mallorca due to meteorological conditions, and there is poetry in springtime’s birth of nature with all its sounds and wonders.

Allow me to quote a poem by Joan Brossa, Catalan artist, poet and playwright:

Conec la utilitat de la inutilitat. I tinc la riquesa de no voler ser ric.

(I know the usefulness of uselessness. And I have the wealth not to want to be rich.)

The Art of Poetry

Poesia de la Mediterrània

I cannot think of many wine-producing regions that would put poetry on their wine labels, let alone poems by an Arab poet. In  Mallorca they do, at least one Bodega does, Vins Can Majoral in Algaïda, on their Butibalausí Rosat (Rosé) wine.

Here is the poem, Els Vasos (Goblets), by Idris Ibn-al-Yaman al-Sabini al-Yabisi (Eivissa, 10th/11th century):

Eren feixucs els vasos quan a nosaltres arribaran,
emperò en omplir-se de vi pur s’alleugeriren
i a punt de volar amb el seu contingut d’igual manera
que els cossos s’alleugeren amb els esperits.

The goblets were heavy when they were brought to us,
but when filled with pure wine they became so light
that they almost flew up high with it
just as the bodies are lifted up high by the spirits.

I’m telling you this because tomorrow night, June 14th, the XIV Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània 2012 will hold its Nit de la poesia at the Teatro Principal in Palma, at 21h00. Admission is free, no wine will be served.

La Crisis did not stop the festival from being staged once more this year, but as a consequence of moneys being tight, fewer poets were invited this year and only one from far away. Here is a list of the artists participating in tomorrow’s event, with their respective idioms: Miquel Bezares (Mallorca, Catalan), Teresa Colom (Andorra, Catalan), Pedro Enríquez (Granada, Castellano), Nahid Kabiri (Iran, Farsi), Laia Martínez López (Mallorca, Catalan), Miquel Àngel Llauger (Mallorca, Catalan), Víctor Obiols (Barcelona, Catalan), Joan Perelló (Mallorca, Catalan), Andreu Subirats (Mallorca, Catalan) and Tiago Torres da Silva (Portugal, Portuguese).

The festival is organised by the Consell de Mallorca together with the Universidad de las Illes Balears under the hosting of the festival’s able director, Biel Mesquida, a poet of renown himself.

This year’s Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània will end on Friday, June 22nd, with a concert given by Anna Roig i l’Ombre de Ton Chien, also at the Teatre Prinipal.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of

Thank you very much, and also for the poem’s translation from the Catalan.

Poesia de la Mediterrània

Guerilla Knitting in Mallorca

We have heard of guerrilla gardeners, planting gardens in public spaces under the cover of night. And there are guerrilla knitters in New York, Texas, Mexico, London, Canada, Japan and Singapore, amongst other places, drawing our attention to neglected public spaces or simply, wanting to embellish otherwise dreary city landmarks. They are a clandestine group of woolly warriors who do knit graffiti or Knitivism, decorating lamp posts, trees, street signs and public sculptures with their knitted goods. In Spain, cities such as Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid have seen urban knitting over the last two years.

A few days ago, it was Palma’s turn. Under the cover of darkness, a good dozen female guerrilla knitters planted 200 flowers knitted or crocheted in wool under the olive tree in Plaça Cort. I wanted to see their Knitivism street art and rushed to Palma on Friday but, alas, the law-and-order brigade or whoever else had already removed the surely inoffensive adornments. I find this undertaking quite poetical or lyrical. As it happens, the 14th Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània is in full swing on the island but, the poetic visual suitability of the knitted garden in front of Palma’s Ajuntament seems to have escaped the mandarins in Palma. A shame, really.

The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of (top), (centre) and (bottom).

Muchas gracias, and

thank you very much.

Guerilla Knitting in Mallorca

The Nit de la Poesia

Last Wednesday night was the Nit de la Poesia and the culmination of the Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània. The annual multi-lingual, inspiring event, now in its 13th year, was staged at the Teatre Principal in Palma. This year, there were participating poets from Morocco, France, Ukraine, Haiti, El Salvador and Zimbabwe, as well as Spain, Catalunya and, of course, Mallorca. Sadly, I was not allowed in by the doorman. Wednesday night was also the night of the Mahler rehearsal, if you remember. The Symphony No. 3 practice session had me late for the poetry festival, and my polite request for admission, albeit somewhat late, was duly rejected. Well, what can I say? To be fair, though, I was allowed into the foyer to purchase a book of the event, a programme so to speak, for the very decent price of 2 €.

I can tell that you did not make it either. What’s your excuse?

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 25th, 2011. The time was 22:40:44. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of and the photographer, Manu Mielniezuk.

Muchas gracias.

The Nit de la Poesia

Robert Graves And The Mediterranean

The 10th International Robert Graves Conference kicked off yesterday in Palma de Mallorca and will continue until Saturday, July 10th. These conferences are biannual events which are staged alternately in Oxford (UK) and Mallorca where Robert Graves had lived during most of his adult live.

Robert Graves (1895-1985), as you all know, is one of the great figures of 20th Century English Poetry and Literature and is probably best known as the author of I, Claudius.

The five day symposium is held at the CaixaForum and is organized by the Fundació Robert Graves (Deià) and the Robert Graves Society (Oxford), in co-operation with the Universitat de les Illes Balears, the Fundació “la Caixa” in Mallorca and St John’s College Robert Graves Trust in Oxford (UK). Last night, there was a reception at the Castell de Bellver offered by the Ajuntament de Palma (Palma Town Hall) plus a Chopin recital by the Mallorcan pianist Andreu Riera, sponsored by the 2010 Any Chopin Committee.

In Palma, the CaixaForum is housed in what used to be the Grand Hotel, where Robert Graves and Laura Riding stayed on their arrival in Palma in 1929.

Tomorrow afternoon, participants of the conference will have the opportunity to visit Ca N’Alluny, Robert Graves’s home in Deià, and its lovely garden.

If you cannot participate in all or part of the conference, you could still make your way to Deià and visit the Casa de Robert Graves which is set up as a museum for the great man, known in Mallorca at his time as Señor Roberto. Ca N’Alluny is open during the Summer months (April to October), Monday to Friday, 10h00 to 17h00, and Saturday, 10h00 to 15h00. The museum is closed on Sundays. Different times apply during the Winter months. Admission fee is charged at 5 € for adults and 2.50 € for children under the age of twelve.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of The photo had been taken in 1968 in front of the Ajuntament de Deià on the occasion of Robert Graves being honoured as the town’s Hijo ilustre (Adoptive Son).

Thank you very much.

Robert Graves And The Mediterranean

The International Day of the Book

Today, Mallorca celebrates the Dia de Sant Jordi, elsewhere known as International Book Day. Schools all over the island will have bookshops coming in and setting up their displays. In Manacor, a Fira del Llibre will be held at the Claustre del Convent de Sant Vicenç Ferrer from 09h00 to 20h00. In Palma, the Dia del Llibre will be celebrated with a display by all municipal libraries of Palma, in Plaça Cort. There will also be story-telling activities at the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró.

Palma will also offer a guided tour under the heading Robert Graves a Palma, albeit next Tuesday, April 27th. This tour will be held under the guidance of Sarah Brierley. If you are interested in participating you are invited to make your reservation by telephone (971.495.346).

By the way, if you are buying a book today, chances are that you will be offered a discount of 10 % off the purchase price, and will probably be offered a red rose as well. Makes it worth it, then.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 22nd, 2010. The time was 16:21:30.

The International Day of the Book

Konstantinos Kavafis


There is no evidence that the eminent Greek poet, Konstantinos Kavafis (Constantine Petrou Cavafy, 1863-1933), has ever been to the island of Mallorca or to the island capital, Palma.

But, if ever the fancy should take you, you could pay homage to the good man who was born, lived and died in Alexandria (Egypt), during a visit to the Jardins de s’Hort del Rei, in Palma de Mallorca, and read part of a short poem by Kavafis inscribed there.

Konstantinos Kavafis

The Catalan artist Josep Maria Subirachs (Barcelona, 1927) is the creator of a sculpture placed in these lovely gardens, being titled Jònica (1963). The sculpture is made of marble and carries the inscription of an excerpt of the poem Ionic by Cavafy. As is so very often the case in Mallorca, the Municipal authorities of Palma were not prepared to pay any fees for the artist’s creation but, after much haggling accepted the sculpture as a gift in 1983, simply paying for the material used and the man hours spent.

I could not find a manuscript of the ‘Ionic’ poem on the Internet. Instead let me offer you a Cavafy manuscript of the poem Keriá (Candles).

If you would like to know more about the poet Cavafy, you might want to consult the C. P. Cavafy website.

Should you like to know more about the artist Subirachs, you will find the biography of J. M. Subirachs on the Caixa Penedès website.


The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2004. The time was 11:07:58. The photo (bottom) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 13th, 2009. The time was 14:07:56. The image of the handwritten poem ‘Keriá’ was taken from the Internet. Thanks are due to Wikipedia.

Konstantinos Kavafis