Wednesday 20 May 2009

The European Constitution in Verse

Recently, I was one of several poets who helped translate this international, multilingual project into its English version.

Originally conceived of and edited by Belgian poets David van Reybrouck and Peter Vermeersch (who may or may not be related to me. I actually have no idea. Peter, if you're reading this, please get in touch!) of The Brussels Poetry Collective, The European Constitution in Verse is authored by poets from across the E.U. in a variety of European languages, and published by Belgium's Passa Porta, a group that organizes literary festivals and publishes and promotes books, much like the Literaturwerkstatt in Berlin (as far as I know, there is nothing quite like it Canada.... and there certainly should be).

Here is what the editors have to say about their creation:

'If the EU is not to be given a political constitution, at least give it a poetical one.’ The European Constitution in Verse: a long poem in which enthusiasm for Europe is tempered by a critical view, the grand gesture rubs up against poetic intimacy and the necessary seriousness is counterbalanced by a satirical note.

The Brussels Poetry Collective started the ball rolling. The famous Geert Van Istendael, the Galician eurocrat Xavier Queipo, the rapper Manza and the French-speaking performance poet Laurence Vielle wrote an inspired basic text. At least forty other European poets – at least one from each European country – then set to work. David Van Reybrouck and Peter Vermeersch remixed the whole lot to form an alternative European Constitution.

This project is more than just a frivolous reworking of a political fiasco. The poetic constitution puts the debate on the fundamental principles of Europe where it belongs: among the free citizens concerned.

The project in available in Europe in book form, but you can read the entire text -- in English, French, Dutch, or in its original multilingual version -- online. It's an impressive undertaking, and I urge you to spend some time taking it in.


Zachariah Wells said...

Sounds very cool. I just hope they didn't have to rob Peter to pay Paul...

Paul Vermeersch said...

Don't worry. I'm pretty sure Paul was paid with money from the Belgian government.

Zachariah Wells said...

God bless the Belgians! (I mean that metaphorically, nathc.)

Martin said...

Hi, I read some pages of the project online !n 2009 and was not quick enough to keep some trace in a safe place - all links are dead. Did you give up completely, why ?
Even the book ? I found this very encouraging and the disappointment is equally huge.

Best regards

Paul Vermeersch said...

Hi Martin, the project was finished and a book was printed. I don't know why the website is down, but I haven't maintained contact with organizers. Perhaps you can find a copy of the finished book through ABE?