The Struga Poetry Evenings
The Struga Poetry Evenings started in 1962 with a series of readings by a number of Macedonian poets in honor of the two brothers, Konstantin and Dimitar Miladinov, great intellectuals, teachers, and writers, born in Struga in the beginning of 19th century. Konstantin Miladinov has been considered the founder of modern Macedonian poetry and each year the festival officially opens with his memorable poem “Longing for the South” (“T’ga za jug”) written during his student days in Moscow. As from 1963, when many poets from all Yugoslav republics also joined the festival, the “Miladinov Brothers” award was established for the best poetry book published in the Republic of Macedonia between two Struga poetry festivals. By 1966, the SPE turned into an international poetry event and, consequently, an international poetry award called “The Golden Wreath” was established, given to a world renowned living poet for his poetic oeuvre or life achievement in the field of poetry.
In 2003 the SPE and UNESCO established a close cooperation and jointly promoted a new award called “The Bridges of Struga” for the best first poetry book by young authors from all over the world. Despite the tremendous difficulties and harsh realities that the festival has had to live with — the fall of Yugoslavia, the war in Bosnia, the Kosovo crisis, the political and ethnic clashes in Macedonia, the terrorist crisis after September 11th attacks, and the numerous political and economic embargos imposed on the region — the SPE has successfully flourished becoming one of the most important poetry festivals in the modern world. And that is a tribute to world poetry and its poets. The Festival has offices in Struga and in Skopje (a director of office, an executive and a technical secretary) and is organized by a Festival Board, which consists of knowledgeable professionals in the field of poetry (poets, critics, translators, and professors in comparative literature and culture). The most attractive poetry events during the festival are “The Meridians” reading at the opening evening of the festival, and “The Bridges of Struga” reading at the closing of the festival. These are spectacular events that attract the citizens of Struga to come out in huge numbers and greet the poets from all over the world with their famous hospitality.
The festival also features two multimedia events (poetry, music and video) called “Nights without Punctuation”, will also be held, thus opening the festival for new, rather experimental forms of poetic presentations. Every year, a day before its official opening, the festival also organizes a symposium on different and attractive topics. It attracts the attention of many literary experts from all over the world. During all these years of its existence the festival has hosted about 4.000 poets, translators, essayists and literary critics from 95 countries of the world. Every year the festival publishes a series of books in order to promote poetry by foreign authors to the Macedonian readership, as well as thematic anthologies of contemporary Macedonian poetry in English translation to readers abroad. These editions include the famous series “Pleiades”, featuring famous poets from all over the world and Macedonia. The thematic anthologies of Macedonian contemporary poetry include poets from all minorities in Macedonia published in their mother tongue, and in Macedonian and English translation. One of the most prestigiuos anthologies published every year is dedicated to a different national or regional poetry. The Struga Poetry Evenings have also established an International Poetry Library. It contains books of all festival participants. Moreover, its International Poetic Archive contains significant materials (books, manuscripts, photographs, films etc.) available to any literary researcher or poetry lover. Therefore, all participants are asked in advance to donate copies to the Library before their arrival in Struga. (source: The official SPE web site, 2013)
The Festival Office and the Organizing Board believe that the festival will go on developing its contents despite the times of transition the region is going through and that it will continue to cherish the long tradition of uniting the world through the word of the poets.