Struga Poetry Evenings


The main event of the cultural life in Struga is the world's largest poetry gathering, Struga Poetry Evenings, attended every year by at least 200 renown guests from the whole world. The festival inter alia bestows Golden Wreath, the highest award for one's overall poetry work and Brakja Miladinovci, an award conferred on the best Macedonian-language book of poetry. Symposium is held and "Struga" magazine is published during the festival. The Festival is held every third week of August.

As of year 2000 Struga is a centre of Mediterranean poetry.

The official web site of the festival can be found at www.svp.org.mk.

History of the Struga Poetry Evenings

An idea for establishing of the "Struga Poetry Evenings" was born in Struga on July 15, 1961, at a literary reading by a group of Macedonian authors, regarding the centennial of the publication of the Collection of Folk Songs, prepared by Miladinov brothers. Soon afterwards, at one of its meetings, the National Board of the Struga district appointed the first festival council consisting of seven members. Its first president was the poet Aco Shopov.

Academician Gane Todorovski named the festival as "Struga Poetry Evenings".

The idea became reality in 1962, when the first manifestation "Struga Poetry Evenings" was held.

The number of participants at the Struga Poetry Evenings (SPE) has increased over the years. In 1965, SPE became an international festival, attended by poets from Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, Romania, USSR and CSSR.

In 1968, poets and essayists from 17 countries participated in SEP.

In 1966, SPE became an institution, which introduced stronger criteria concerning its program and participants. Also in 1966, the House of Poetry was built (which includes a library with participants' books), next to the town's park where trees are planted by the winners of the "Golden Wreath".

The SPE Prize "Brakja Miladinovci" for the best book written by a contemporary Macedonian poet, was introduced in 1963. The first recipient was Mateja Matevski.

The Prize "Golden Wreath" for best read poem was introduced in 1966. Robert Rozdestventski was the first recipient for the poem "A Man Has Been Born".

That year will be remembered by a tragic event. Two of the participants, Blazo Scepanovic and Lazo Vuckovic lost their lives in waters of the Ohrid Lake. A year later, a monument was built in their honor.

In 1967, the festival marked a record according to the number of participants; 110 poets from all over the world attended. Winner of the Golden Wreath award for that year was Bulat Okudzava for his poem "The Lead Soldier of My Son".

In 1968, the international gathering of young poets, organized by the Alliance of literature assemblies and clubs of Macedonia, took place within the Struga Poetry Evenings festival. That year, winner of the Golden Wreath was Laslo Nag for his poem "You Are a Thief, Hiding in a Poem".

In 1969, Mak Dizdar won the Golden Wreath for the poem "Blue River".

In 1970, the festival gained new concepts. Presentation of literatures of nowadays-former Yugoslav countries was initiated. In 1970, a panorama of the Croatian poetry took place, and one of the festival days was dedicated to the poetry of Romania. A formal poetry evening, dedicated to French poet Andre Freneud was also organized.

The Golden Wreath award was given to Miodrag Pavlovic for his poem "Quarrels".

Starting from 1971, the Golden Wreath award is being given for the overall poets' work. The first laureate of the Struga Poetry Evenings was the American poet W. H. Auden.

Throughout its history, the Struga Poetry Evenings festival usually lasted 3-5 days. All of them, but one held in other towns in Macedonia, are held in Struga.

The poetry festival traditionally begins with the poem of Konstantin Miladinov "T'ga za Jug" (Sorrow/Longing for the South), after which the poets- participants gather in the House of Poetry in Struga.

The most spectacular evening of the festival is certainly the one titled as "Bridges", when the poets address the audience with their poetry from the bridge where the Crn Drim river exits from the Ohrid Lake. (see the photo on the top)

Related articles:
Mini-Portrait of the 2004 Golden Wreath Bearer Vasco Grasa Mura Poet Erudite
Winner of the Golden Wreath at SPE 2004 declared in Unesco head offices
List of past winners of the Golden Wreath at SPE
List of past winners of the Brakja Miladinovci award
An article on Edoardo Sanguinetti, the 2000 Golden Wreath winner
The World Poetry Elite Has Come to Struga (from the opening of the festival in 2003)