Thursday, June 12, 2014

Poetry World Cup 2014 Begins!

Day 1 of the Poetry World Cup 2014 has begun! The first matchup is Bangladesh and Venezuela:

The winner of each match will be decided by The Missing Slate‘s readers via two polls: one on the magazine’s facebook page and one on the magazine’s website. Each match will run for exactly 24 hours, beginning as close as possible to midday Pakistan time (PKT; GMT+4 hours).

After 24 hours, the results of the two polls will be aggregated. The poem with the most votes will be declared the winner, and will go through to the next round. In the event of a tie, the match will go to a “golden vote”. The poem that receives the first vote after midday PKT will be the winner.

The poets facing each other this time are:

Mir Mahfuz Ali, representing Bangladesh. Born in Dhaka, he left his home country after being shot in the throat by a policeman ‘trying to silence the singing of anthems during a public anti-war demonstration.’ Now based in London, Mir Mahfuz Ali brings ‘the sensuousness of a Bengali tradition to the English language’, and he is a consummate performer of his own work, ‘renowned for his extraordinary voice.’ His poem is "When Bangladesh Floats in a Water-hyacinth"

Rafael Ayala Páez, representing Venezuela. A young poet, his work is already beginning to be noticed around the world. His poems have been translated from Spanish into English, French, German and Hebrew, and we’re presenting his work in Roger Hickin’s English translation. Rafael Ayala Páez draws on a number of traditions, and a ‘spiritual connection to the culture of India’ lies behind poems such as ‘Vaisvanara/Agni’. His poem is "Impressions."

Tomorrow it's Barbados (Esther Phillips) v. USA (Ravi Shankar). We're matching Shankar's "Camp X-Ray" to Phillips' "Canvas." Both touch on the inner and external experience of historical spaces but use very different approaches.

Given the primarily Pakistani readership of Missing Slate, it will be very interesting to see who the voters select in this round. Both poets have a very wide readership so I'd anticipate this match to be fierce.

For our US West Coast voters, it's pretty easy to figure out since we're exactly 12 hours behind Pakistan. Our noon is their midnight, so West Coasters have until midnight to vote in any day's match. Minneapolis has until 2:00 AM, New York has until 3:00 AM. Go, night owls!

Ultimately, I hope for next year we can get even more international representation than just the 32 countries who made it in this year. So, I encourage you to submit to the journal and help get your nation qualified for next year.

The Missing Slate is an arts and literary journal created with intent to uphold free speech irrespective of geography, political or religious affiliations. Their goal is simple: honor talent and incorporate as many styles, opinions and cultures as possible. The magazine is a “borderless” one with a culturally and intellectually diverse team that believes if art can’t be quantified, it can’t be mapped either. The brainchild of Editor-in-Chief Maryam Piracha and Creative Director Moeed Tariq, the story behind their name (a question they’re often asked) arose from the current literary landscape in Pakistan, a country with a rich history but a low tolerance for it. They wanted to publish a magazine that paid tribute to our diversity by opening up their “borders” to include submissions from other countries (and have published work from 27 so far, including Pakistan).

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