Nuclear Wasteland

Medellin, Colombia: Cocaine Capital Transforms to Venue for Cultivating Peace and Poetry

Medellín, Colombia, a city once notorious for being the epicenter of the cocaine trade, is reinventing itself as a global center for the living word.

The Medellín International Poetry Festival was founded in 1991, when the streets of Medellín were at their most precarious. Organizers envisioned the Poetry Festival as a form of cultural resistance—a venue for cultivating peace and a protest against injustice and terrorism, including state terrorism. Over the past 26 years, the festival has established itself as the largest of its kind in the world. Since its inception, nearly 1,000 poets from 159 nations have come to Colombia, where more than 1,200 poetry readings have been held in 32 cities across the country. The festival was one of the recipients of the 2006 Right Livelihood Award, widely known as "The Alternative Nobel Peace Prize.”

This short film documents some of the readings the festival and highlights performers talking about the use of poetry as a tool for promoting peace and justice. Today, poets participating in the poetry festival every June hope that the festival can encourage others to end acts of terrorism and hatred that is occurring in many areas across the world.

"In that spirit we know more than poetry is needed to rectify our peace efforts, but it is a tremendous start with Medellin given such a huge example." - Hatto Fischer


Learn more about the festival here

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