'Poets in May', when the lyric invades the streets and paints the shop windows of Vitoria

May is the month of flowers and, in Vitoria, also the month of poetry. In recent years - with the permission of the pandemic - the streets of the Basque capital have been filled with lyrical sentiment through the 'Poets in May' festival, led by the now-retired teacher Elisa Rueda. This 2022 the city is celebrating the tenth edition of the international festival, in which the participation of poets and artistic groups, both local and invited, are ensuring that poetry conquers every corner.

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May is a time of year “in which the aromas of poetry open and the senses are sharpened,” emphasized Rueda, director of the festival. She invites you to walk the streets of the city "with a special look" and checking how "the verses are released", each year more present due to the exponential growth of the festival. "The evolution has been brutal, now it is a benchmark," said Elisa, who recalled the beginnings of a project that only lasted a few days and in which the poets were "welcomed in their own home." This edition is celebrating nearly a hundred activities such as workshops, recitals or popular readings that "unite the neighbourhoods". "Through different languages ​​such as Basque, Chinese or even sign language, they are soaked in lyrics", suggested Estíbaliz Canto, Councilor for Education and Culture of the Vitoria City Council. Even in the Basque Parliament political speeches have been changed to rhyme.

glass pages
will begin to write #GlassPages in shops and stores in the city.#PoetsInMayhttps://t.co/awWTY47pxN
Thank you @vitoriagasteiz, @Gob_eus, @Araba, @i_Euskadi, @060gobes, @VitalFundazioa, @eleyco, @Aidazu_AV pic.twitter.com/9SOgYq9UQ5

— Poets in May - Poetak Maiatzean (Official) (@poetas_mayo) May 6, 2022

Undoubtedly, the most popular activity is 'Crystal Pages', a proposal that invites businesses that wish to lend their windows, in which the verses of a hundred poets participating in the festival are written. This activity, which "invigorates the streets", has awakened the poetic side of the citizenry, causing many businesses not directly linked to the festival to join the initiative by writing poems on their windows.

The glass of May is shaken and all the aromas of poetry fall

In some of the glass pages, winks can be seen regarding "the special look on the streets that we see every day". The previous verse, which presents the Modas Ibáñez shop window on Calle del Prado, shows the support and eagerness that the initiative receives from Vitorian businesses, to which more businesses are added every year.

While I live my dreams/rest in the lap/of your immense smile/there I heal the wounds/of my little storms/and your love cradles, stops/my great shrillness.

Txaro García — Poem for Dormity

Other businesses, along with the assigned poets, use a theme related to the sector and the services they offer, so that the poem serves as a reflection of what "can be found there". This poem, written by the local poet, Txaro García, for the mattress store Dormity, is an example of this. She plays with "the role of sleep", the deeper the better, when it comes to recovering energy and resting in her "natural place", the bed.

We smile with all our soul/guarded behind our teeth/with caution,/do not let it escape us/in a sigh.

Arantza Arana Uribesalgo — Now

There are also glass pages that show other poems like this one, which can be read in the window of the Re-Read store, on Calle Fundadora de las Siervas de Jesús 7. Poems that take their place "simply because they transmit."

'Poets in May' also invites citizens to bring out the poet they have inside through different contests. 'Poetry in paper napkins' is the most outstanding initiative, a contest that nods to those moments in which “all” have used this resource as a notebook. Also, there are other contests of a more specialized nature such as Mother's Day, 'The corner of the verse', aimed at children and young people up to 23 years old, with Instagram as an exposure tool, or the initiative for inmates of the Zaballa prison 'Freedom on Parole', also encourage expressing emotion in a more specific way. “Everyone can participate”, Elisa pointed out, which makes it “a unique festival”.

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