The 13th edition of the Transpoesie Poetry Festival took place in Brussels in September 2023. Organised by the European Union National Institute for Culture, the theme of Transpoesie 2023 was ‘Take Back the Stage’, which celebrated the unique relationship between poetry, nature and architecture in a multiplicity of European languages. As well as celebrating Art Nouveau, Transpoesie also aimed to amplify female voices in European poetry. This year Belfast poet, Elizabeth McGeown, was selected by the Arts Council NI to represent the talent of our region and bring the vibrancy of Northern Ireland poetry to the people of Brussels in a wide range of cultural venues.
Transpoesie celebrates multilingualism with a week of events taking place around the annual European Day of Languages and Linguistic Diversity on the 26th September featuring poets and poems in dozens of languages, including placing poems in public spaces in their original language with translations in French and Dutch; Elizabeth’s work was featured in the beautiful Galerie de la Reine which opened in 1847 .
Elizabeth McGeown is a Pushcart-nominated poet from Belfast and is the 2022 UK Slam Champion. She has been published in a variety of journals including Banshee, Abridged and Under the Radar, and her debut poetry collection ‘Cockroach’ was published in 2022 by Verve Poetry Press. Her poetry focuses on themes of feminism, mental health, disability, the body and neurodivergence using metaphor to explore these themes. As a Film Studies graduate, she loves to explore the beauty of horror cinema and how it corresponds to real life, especially in the lives of people with disabilities and neurodivergent people, and how isolation can manifest in those lives.
Elizabeth performed her poem ‘Witch’ as part of the Transpoesie Festival at both the Italian Cultural Institute and Maison Hannon in Brussels. In addition to Elizabeth, the Italian Cultural Institute hosted poets from Scotland, Wales, Spain, Italy, Mexico. Elizabeth’s second engagement as part of Transpoesie was in Maison Hannon, an art nouveau architectural masterpiece in Brussels. At this event Elizabeth performed alongside poets from the Basque Country, Lithuania and Sweden.
The Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels was also pleased to co-host a fantastic Transpoesie lunchtime poetry reading on the 27th September, with the Welsh Government and Channel Islands Brussels Office. Elizabeth was joined by Hanan Issa (Wales), Martha MacDonald (Jersey) and Trudie Shannon (Guernsey) who read their poetry and engaged in a discussion, moderated by Aodhán Connolly, to an attentive audience.
To keep up to date with our events in Brussels, make sure to follow @BrusselsNI on X (Twitter) and to keep up with Northern Ireland Poet Elizabeth McGeown follow her on @CandysEyes.