By Melissa Hekkers
The alternative literary festival Sardam started off as a one-night act by a group of writers and performers from Cyprus and abroad six years ago; a one off event which hosted a small number of spectators, most of whom came from Limassol. Aside poetry slams, open mic evenings and literary readings which seem to have become all the more popular throughout the course of the year, the Sardam festival is Cyprus’ most sought out annual literary event.
Over the years the festival has grown, not just in attendance. In its sixth year, the festival now hosts a greater variety of events and spreads out across three cities throughout the course of four days.
Set to open its doors on October 11, Sardam is essentially a celebration of new ways of expressing literature and the art of words. Whether this be through writers, performers and artists sharing original experiences of writing and reading or through innovative presentations/performances of literature through a variety of events and workshops, this unique festival promises a glimpse at avant-garde literature scenes of Europe and beyond, giving festival goers the opportunity to get closer to contemporary literature and any artistic expression which works through words.
“The common ground will be the combination of literature and spoken word with traditional and modern means of expression like theatre, technology, contemporary dance, slamming, visual arts, architecture, sound poetry, visual poetry and so on and, also, a challenge towards what we consider literature or literary performance nowadays,” says organiser Maria A Ioannou.
Six years ago, Ioannou followed a personal need to create a festival rooted to literature but not restricted by it, an event she envisioned would indefinitely be led by combining writing with other forms of art.
By launching a daring platform through which Cypriot and foreign writers are able to read, perform and present their work through a combination with other forms of art and/or artists, the festival now has the potential to reach a wider audience.
But breaking away from conventional means of presenting literature isn’t merely about applying a different ‘decoration’ to it, but encourages in-depth understanding of literary works. Essentially, the festival encourages deep research into new literary possibilities, combining literature with technology, contemporary dance, sound design and innovation while aiming at literary quality. The writer is no longer the image of an isolated individual by the typewriter. In this instance, writers are like other artists, are ready to expose themselves both through their words and through their bodies.
Participating in the festival are writers, performers and artists both from Cyprus and abroad, with a variety of events happening in Paphos, Limassol and Nicosia. Yet considering that words will be the driving force behind the content of activities, the outcome, as every year, is expected not to be set in stone and will be led by the liberty of literature and words to be transformed into diverse narratives.
What makes the festival somewhat unpredictable is the synergy that takes place among performers and workshop leaders. Besides the group events and workshops to take place in Limassol and Nicosia and which have been taking place since the festival’s inception, the festival’s Sardam Tribute this year recognises renowned Cypriot prose writer Ivi Meleagrou through the artistic lens of local musician Lefteris Moumtzis.
As a parallel event during the last day of the festival, the Sardam Solo/Group continues its presence this year with a longer literary performance by international writers/performers including guest of honour Italian poet-performer and inspirer of the terms “pre-textual poetry” and “epigenetic poetry” Giovanni Fontana. This year’s programme also includes a lecture by the awarded Greek writer and academic Thodoris Rakopoulos.
This is also the first year Sardam extends the festival to the Paphos district where a Travel Literature creative writing workshop will take place.
Sardam Literary Festival
October 11 to 14. The main events of literary readings and performances will take place at Theatro Ena in Limassol and Theatro Dentro in Nicosia, with parallel events and workshops taking place at alternate locations in Paphos, Limassol and Nicosia. All public events are entrance free. For all full programme of events and workshops visit sardamcy.wordpress.com/parallel-events/ or call 99 558358 and 99 556226