Spotlight On: A Series on Culture & the Arts

“Spotlight On” is XelaWho’s regular monthly series on all things cultural & artistic in Xela and Guatemala. This month’s topic for May 2009 is: Asalto al Cielo Poetry Festival

by Martín Díaz

Here we go again, folks, breaking our backs to bring you some of the finest poets from around the world. The International Poetry Festival of Quetzaltenango has become a very critical event for Latin American literature, complementing other big ones like Granada in Nicaragua, the Permanent Poetic Encounter in El Salvador called “El turno del ofendido” and the Medellin Festival in Colombia. The goal is to bring living art expressions to Xela during the week of May 9-16. 

That’s right, it’s been 5 years of bringing artists from places as far away as Siberia (literally!); we have presented some – poetically speaking – ass kicking literary figures, including underground artists, internationally awarded ones, even a Nobel-prize nominee. Some of the big names we’ve had in the past include: Yevgeny Tevtushenko (Russia) in 2007, Andras Imreh (Hungary), Silvia Favaretto (Italy) in 2003, Saúl Ibargoyen (Uruguay) in 2004, Guadalupe Elizalde (Mexico) in 2007; and many more.

The local Grupo Metáfora keeps striving to bring our city some of the best literature from around the planet. In this year’s festival, dedicated to Guatemalan poet Francisco Morales Santos, poets from Spain and all over Guatemala and Latin America will be sharing their work. The event will close with an innovative mix of a rural town marimba party and a poetry reading, featuring video, audio, and live performances.

Schools, parks, coffee shops and streets will be invaded for this great event, and it’s all free. So be ready to test your Spanish skills, and try to memorize this list of events so you won’t miss the action…or just take your tattered copy of XelaWho with you wherever you go.

You can buy a groovy T-shirt or a copy of the Festival Compilation at any of these events.

Check out the Casa No’j calendar of events for a preliminary schedule. More complete information is available at

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