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Poesia Vadia: it’s not an event, it’s a movement

Text from the interview with its founder Acílio Gala.

The huge variety of students within the School of Arts and Humanities present an equally huge variety of initiatives, projects, and ideas to know and discover. Poesia Vadia is one of those. Designed to create a safe art-sharing environment, Poesia Vadia is composed by a community of young poets that share the need to express themselves and to listen to poetry. 

The project was made in 2019 by the student Acílio Gala, when he didn’t know of any spaces to share poetic creations. Seeking a place where literary interests converged, the project was born with the focus on the diffusion of emerging poets. The name comes from the quote by the poet and philosopher Agostinho da Silva, “O homem não nasce para trabalhar, nasce para criar, para ser o tal poeta à solta” (The man is not born to work, he is born to create, to be the one loose poet).

Its activities consist in organizing monthly “Noites de Poesia” (Poetry Nights) in which poetry declamations, performances and Jam Sessions happen. The events are composed by three guests related to poetry, one to music and there’s always a space for an open mic. Sometimes, the events are partnered with associations, to whom the cost of the tickets, 3€ per person, is donated. Some of the social associations include Passa Sabi, who works in Bairro do Rego, and Crescer, that donates hygienic products to homeless people. 

In addition to hosting Poetry Nights, the project has other initiatives. Two tours were made around Portugal, in the summers of 2021 and 2023, respectively. The first was with the purpose of raising funds for Passa Sabi, while the second was with the purpose of getting to know some poetry and art projects in Portugal, through Poetry Nights with local artists. Another of these activities was a poetry retreat in Gerês, two years ago, with the poets Maria Caetano Vilalobos and Sheila Rodriguez. 

The project is now diving into its first independent editing adventure. This initiative brings new challenges, but it is still a “very rewarding and learning experience,” the founder says.

Because these independent publishing publications are not part of the editorial world, they do not compete with major publishers. Therefore, Acílio Gala mentions that the goal of this new adventure arises in order to combat the current edit, because it is “very fast and in great dimension”. The new book by the poet Rita Madeira is available for sale in its second edition.

The real challenge, the interviewee notes, is to find spaces to host the Poetry Nights. Site owners are skeptical about events that can bring together a high number of people. Acílio Gala mentions that this is also visible when demanding a payment for the artists. Poetry continues to be in a lower place compared to music, with the two artistic forms stimulating in different ways. Music tends to receive more money. “Recentemente, os eventos de poesia têm tido uma maior afluência, mas continua a ser bastante nicho e é difícil atrair pessoas fora da poesia para as Noites de Poesia” (Recently, poetry events have been more influential, but it remains quite a niche and it is difficult to attract people outside of poetry to the Nights of Poetry), says the founder.

The participation of Poesia Vadia in the VIII Poetry Festival of Lisbon served as a means to show their work, to which they received “very good feedback and the possibility of creating new things”. Although the festival invitation serves as a good platform for disclosure, Acílio Gala mentions that the funding of cultural projects such as Poesia Vadia would be a much more consequential help.

The most satisfying moment over these three years was the last anniversary of the project, which was attended by more than 100 people and more than 20 invited poets. The celebration had a varied program from live tattoo to poetic performance, and a debate about the future of poetry in Portugal.

The next Poetry Night will be on February 23rd in Cossoul, with the partnership of Quinta de São Miguel, which belongs to the Amadora Philharmonic Society.

Translated by Bruna Bastos

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