Malmö: The Iraqi city

Malmö: The Iraqi city

Cultural life in Iraq is on the back-burner, but it still exists.  And now the Iraq authorities are reaching out, to Malmö.

During a trip to the country, Natik Awayez, artistic director for the Inkonst Culture Center in Malmö, was invited by Aqeel Al Mindlawie, Iraq's general director for cultural relations:

"He wants Swedish poets to participate in a poetry festival in Basra, perhaps with a special Swedish evening," says Natik Awayez.

The poetry festival in Basra has been around for a long time, even during Saddam Hussein's time, but hasn't been active for many years.  Now it's been taken up again, and last year was the first time since the break that it's been organized.

The festival takes place in April and that's not enough time to arrange for a contribution from Malmö.  Natik Awayez forwarded the invitation to Malmö publisher Per Bergström, who's also behind the Stanza poetry festival.

"We won't make it by April.  It requires enormous planning, it's not like going to a festival in Berlin.  But it would surely be exciting if we could do something next year," says Per Bergström.

He will also check if SIDA (the Swedish International Development Authority) and the Swedish Insittute will invest money in a cultural exchange with Iraq, an effort which they can join in, in any case.

Natik Awayez says it's not surprising that those responsible in Iraq turned to Malmö.

"In Iraq everybody knows Malmö, it's really so, there are so many families who have relatives and friends here.  People speak of Malmö as if it were an Iraqi city, it's absolutely fantastic."

Source: Sydsvenskan (Swedish), h/t Every Kinda People

See also: Sweden: Riyadh calling! Malmö are you with us?

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