Nikola Madzirov at Southbank Centre

Visas can be tricky things. At the start of last night’s reading, it was announced that Nikola Madzirov might not be able to attend. There had been trouble getting the British Consulate to return his non-EU visa to him during his tour of South America, and his plane had only touched down minutes before the programme began. It all lay in the hands of immigration, customs and — worst of all — London traffic as to whether he would show up in time to read at all.

The programme was designed to intersperse British poets with continental European voices, in hopes of overcoming some of the “ossification” of British perceptions of European poetry. Indeed, it was the Europeans I found most vital and captivating, and upon them I will focus for now.

Swiss poet Daniele Pantano read from his “undergraduate” work in honour of his own undergraduate students making the trip out to see him. He spoke of his time in suburban America as an “exile”, which he defined as “a city reared by eternal artifice.” His most striking work revolved around his mother’s suicide and the haunt of Nazism in Europe. Continue reading…