Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do


Jeudi 22 mars 2012


View of the Eifeltower from Place de Fontenoy


7, place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris
07 SP France 

Currently UNESCO is under siege, financially speaking, after the USA stopped paying its contribution - 25% of the total budget - out of protest that the organization has accepted Palestine as full member. The Delegation was to met with the director of UNESCO, but who was at that time in the United States to resolve precisely this issue. 
Instead, a meeting was arranged with Katerina Stenou, Director of the Intersectoral Platform for a culture of peace and of non-violence. Katerina Stenou was a key person responsible for the UNESCO initiative on 'cultural diversity'. 

Arrival at UNESCO by Metro and then on foot down avenues with those famous cafes already filled due to the spring weather. The walk went alongside the military school. A strange feeling having just seen that painting in Kreisau when Prussian troops entered Paris in 1871. Nowadays the military tradition and the proud nation is still symbolized by not merely the flag, but Sarkozy threatening as part of his re-election campaign to end the Schengen agreement of open borders between all EU member states. Around this time, France was also riddled by events surrounding the cold blooded murder to three Jewish children and others by one lone attacker who claimed to revenge himself for among other things the Palestinian cause. That took place in Toulouse. The attacker was finally cornered in his house and then shot when he attempted to climb out of the back window. His mother was standing in the crowd and pleaded in vain to spare the life of her son. The father himself seemed to have made some strong statements but argued that in a strange way he was not practically involved in what his son had done. In any case, walking that morning towards UNESCO felt like being in a strange environment with the international link to UNESCO definitely a question of what this organization has been doing for world heritage, cultural diversity, education and especially in fostering peace with soft means i.e. by way of culture.

Gloria Chvatal, Bas Kwakman, Fernando Rendon and Dinos Siotis

Part of the delegation about to enter the UNESCO building with Hatto Fischer taking the photo. A bit later the group was joined by Celine Hemon from 'Printemps des Poetes' in France.



Up the elevator and through a corridor filled with amazing and precious art works

Dedicated to the youth



Director Katerina Stenou

Intersectoral Platform for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence

Katerina Stenou

Katerina Stenou explained the directive concerning UNESCO's partnership with non-governmental organizations, the most important point being besides a legal entity there has to exist a proven record of co-operation with UNESCO and its programs for two years. Subject to an evaluation, only then Consultative or Associative Status is granted.


WPM gave here two examples out of own practical experiences:


Poetry and law

Another point mentioned by her in the discussion was the link between poetry and law. As this needs for explanation, Hatto Fischer referred to the Greek term of 'metron' or measure, as this presupposes a poetic way of observing whether or not a society was just, and what it would take to bring about a just society if unjust! Since the bringing about of a just society is no 'easy task', there lie already the measures in need to be taken due to the task ahead. Such measures entail what it takes to realize a just society. They may include a kind of mediation between what it takes and what could be realized at the moment.


Members of delegation of World Poetry Movement

Celine Hemon, Fernando Rendon, Gloria Chvatal

Fernando Rendon - director of poetry festival in Medellin, Colombia and coordinator of WPM

Gloria Chvatal - communication director of the festival in Medellin

Celine Hemon - Printemps des Poetes, France

Bas Kwakman - director of Poetry International, Rotterdam

Dinos Siotis - poet, poetry festival on the Greek island of Tinos


Dinos Siotis and Katerina Stenou




What is the purpose of the World Poetry Movement? 
At the outset of the general discussion at UNESCO, it became clear that Celine Hemon from Printemps des Poetes here in France needs simple and concrete guidance from WPM, in order to know where and how to contribute. To her question what is the purpose of WPM, I said that it is up to her to give a new purpose to poetry. Alone this makes evident differences between various organisational logics or approaches e.g. Bas Kwakman stated: "poets need not to be given any direction, for they will address issues by themselves; as directors and organisers of festivals, we only need to connect the various activities in the world to empower more poetry and poets". Celine Hemon said before Printemps des Poetes could stabilize, it meant weathering over 14 years all kinds of conflicts and overcoming sometimes also really bad ideas. Criterion for link to UNESCO: Before we entered the discussion with Katerina Stenou, Director of the Intersectoral Platform for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence, it is known that any cooperation with UNESCO is only possible after the NGO has at least two years of experiences. Here World Poetry Movement is still too young to have such track record and hence any experience in what such a cooperation could and must entail. Bas Kwakman was of the opinion that there is at risk that WPM can lose very quickly its own identity when collaborating with such a world wide organization as UNESCO.

UNESCO has issued Resolution 108: Directive concerning UNESCO's partnership with non governmental organizations. Important became during the discussion with Katerina that it is not merely a matter of having constituted a legal organization operating world wide, but the kind of scope in terms of developing good cooperation with UNESCO. This should be to the mutual benefit. This record of cooperation altogether and on certain issues becomes important when seeking recognition as partner with either consultative or else associate status. For cooperation shall be evaluated without which there is no point of seeking such recognition. Thus WPM must take certain principles and priorities into consideration, if it wishes to cooperate with UNESCO. Here Bas Kwakman stressed again the need to retain independence. Still, World Poetry Movement must include in its constitution right from the beginning the possibility to enter cooperation with UNESCO. In turn, this depends upon how a general assembly makes sure that the world wide organization of WPM functions democratically and in an organisational binding way. The discussion with Katerina Stenou at UNESCO was most helpful as she gave us the guidelines of UNESCO for cooperation with NGOs. Other points touched upon: - Bas Kwakman took up my reference to the need to know how to handle complexity - Bas Kwakman gave an example for a thematic guidelines for organizing events e.g. here Bas mentioned an event to which they invited an American snipper during the Iraq war now living in Baghdad after having become a poet and at the same time a poetess from Iraq who had fled Baghdad and went to the United States where she wrote against the Iraq war. Alone this contrast would provide valuable insights. Distinction between formal and informal - and the art to give institutional processes fresh inputs - Katerina mentioned that while being an official inter-governmental organization, UNESCO does value small actions and events in which a counter dialogue to the official discourse is possible. Poetry and Peace / avoidance of conflict - Fernando Rendon and the strategic paper of World Poetry Movement does identify the absence of poetry / poetic life as a sign of a deprived area in the world in which it is more likely that there prevail violence and conflicts. The organizational principle of UNESCO is to promote hubs for peace: creating peaceful sources of inspiration in especially deprived areas e.g. urban gangs operating in certain quarters of the city. As this was also the very beginning of the Poetry in Medellin, such a hub can become like a fountain a place where to get from poetic inspirations. - I mentioned what I did with poets and the Olympic Truce during the Olympic Games out of which emerged contact with Peace Waves in Italy and our intention to let poets and youth monitor observance of the Olympic Truce. Out of this developed contact with Kids' Guernica and the movement 'poets against war' (Sam Hamill in the United States) and poets for Olympic Truce (Katerina mentioned her efforts to bring something about when the Olympic Games took place in Athens but it was prevented by the Olympic Committee not wanting to involve culture linked to the symbol of the Olympics; Bas informed us that he is organizing a poetry Olympics parallel to the Olympic Games in London without resorting to the Olympic symbol). Reference 1: Kids' Guernica How to bring about a linkage between poets and what children paint as wish for peace. See www.kids-guernica.org and www.poieinkaiprattein.org/kids-guernica Reference 2: poetry and painting There is also a movement in poetry means to draw attention to a poetic language in painting e.g. Chagall or what Guilio Stocchi of the Situationist poets has done in Milano when working together with a painter while writing poetry. Reference 3: from peace process to peace agreement Together with Fernando in Medellin, Colombia, every effort needs to be taken to support the start of a peace process in Colombia, so that the fractions at war right now do come to a peace agreement. A possible model for this can be the Belfast process and the peace agreement in Northern Ireland. At this point, Katerina Stenou became most interested in what was happening in Medellin and she saw point of collaboration between poetic actions aiming to add to education some new dimensions and the educational program of UNESCO. - Dinos wanted to propose a poetry conference at UNESCO with ambassadors sponsoring one poet from each country whereas Celine Hemon said this might require a lot of money to be organized; Dinos believes this can be shared by each country sending one poet. Again Celine said UNESCO is too established, a golden cage, and thus it would be better to have the sponsorship of UNESCO but the event outside its building since no one would come to that building save those who work of this international organization. - Dinos wants as well to see poetic actions like the manifestation he organized in Athens during which the IMF was heavily criticized; at the same time, he speaks about poetry doing away with the crisis. - I explained any organization has to heed three principles: dialogue with reality, memory and financial accountability. WPM would need to set standards when it comes to promoting good poetry.This can be done by criticism but also following the narrative linked to a specific poem: how received in different cultural contexts. Two other topic were touched upon and are in need to be explored further: 1. law - can it be linked to the notion of world governance (Habermas) and the need to avoid arbitrariness, while perceiving the world consensus about 'human dignity being untouchable' as something which does not need any further justification, as it is the thesis of Habermas? Indeed poems can reflect lawfulness and this as a difference between a description of the law itself and the attitude towards this law. Poetic observances begin with Pindar's Fragment when he sees smoke coming out of a hole with the axe of a wheel grinding away and therefore encounters the law of friction but also something else. With Thomas Kuhn this is the mark of innovation to observe in order to improve upon it. Then, the unfolding of a poem as the person becomes restless due to questions haunting him, that can be perceived as well as another kind of lawfulness. It has to be linked with the basic constitution giving a right to every individual to unfold his or her 'creative personality'. 2. nature and poetry / poetry of sustainability and poetry reflecting a culture of sustainability - while the laws of nature are of a certain kind like the flow of a river, the laws which make possible all kinds of developments are very often violation of nature and physical spaces people but also animals need for survival This is not a complete resume but gives you an idea as to what we tried to reach as a first conclusion after our very stimulating talk with Katerina Stenou who impressed us with her artistic office and love for clarity when it comes to possible cooperation between World Poetry Movement and UNESCO. hatto fischer
Paris 22.3.2012


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