Press Releases

6th Other Words International Poetry Festival to Take Place in San Francisco October 10–12

Poets Representing U.S. and European Nations Embody Transcultural Experience

Readings To Be Given in English Translation as Well as Original Languages

September 15, 2008, SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Participants have been announced for the 6th Other Words International Poetry Festival, to take place October 10-12, 2008 in San Francisco. Exploring themes of multiculturalism and movement among cultures, this year’s festival boasts a diverse roster of international and local poets representing France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Festival venues include Litcrawl, City Lights, and San Francisco State University’s Poetry Center. Other Words 2008 is co-presented by the consulates and cultural institutes of a number of European nations, as well as by the Poetry Center. For more information on the poets and the events, please see

This year’s Other Words festival continues a tradition, begun in 1999, of bringing an eclectic cadre of world-class poets to San Francisco, exposing the Bay Area community to different languages, literatures, and ways of life through poetry. This year’s festival organizers have taken this challenge especially seriously, selecting a number of poets with profound multicultural and multilingual experience, many of whom will be making their first appearances in the U. S. As the events feature readings both in English and in the languages of composition, Other Words also offers the audience an opportunity to peek behind the veil of translation—and to judge for themselves how effectively sound and affect have been rendered in the English versions.


Representing Sweden, Chinese-Swedish poet Li Li, was born in 1961 in Shanghai. He studied Swedish at Beijing University, and moved to Sweden in 1988, where he studied Swedish literature at Stockholm University. He debuted with Sight in water (1989), written in Swedish, and was rewarded with the De Nio literature prize. Li Li is the author of six volumes of poetry in Swedish, the latest of which, Origin (2007), focuses on the life of Li’s mother and his cultural background. His work has also been published in China, and translated into several languages in anthologies and magazines. Michel Abdollahi and Sulaiman Masomi, two more poets working in a second language/culture, will represent Germany at Other Words. Abdollahi, born in Teheran in 1981, has been living in Hamburg, Germany, for more than 20 years. He studied law, then entered the slam poetry scene in Hamburg where he has been active as an award winning poet and as a political voice fighting aggression in public schools and building bridges between Orient and Occident. He writes and performs in German and Farsi. Masomi, born in Kabul in 1979, moved to Germany with his parents a year later to escape the war against the Soviet Union. He has been active in Germany’s slam and hip hop scene, winning numerous prestigious awards for his politically charged texts and performances that often focus on the plight of foreigners in Germany. He writes and performs in German. A veteran negotiator of cultures, Fabiano Alborghetti, representing Switzerland, writes moving, elegant texts, also largely on the subject of the immigrant experience. Born in Milan, Alborghetti lives in Lugano, Switzerland. He has published Verso Buda (LietoColle, 2004) and L’opposta riva (LietoColle, 2006) whose theme is “clandestine” immigrants in Italy, with whom Alborghetti lived between 2001 and 2004. He has also worked as a photographer and as a playwright. His new collection of poems, Registro dei fragili, is forthcoming from the Swiss publishing house Casagrande Editore. Representing Norway, Ingvild Burkey was born in Oslo in 1967 to a Norwegian mother and an American father. She holds a degree in political science from Yale University and has worked as a human rights monitor in Bosnia and Herzegovina and many African countries, including Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Tanzania. In the 1990s, she was co-editor of the Norwegian literary journal Vagant. She has published two collections of poetry (Torden i søvne, 1994; Den mest tenkelige av alle verdener, 2008), a novel (Falsk pike, 1997) and a collection of short prose (Intervju med den hjemvendte helten, 2002).

Representing France, avant-garde pioneer Jean-Michel Espitallier is the author of several books, including the very controversial Pièces détachées, une anthologie de la poésie française aujourd’hui (Bits and Pieces, An Anthology of French Poetry Today, (Pocket, 2000). His Théorème d’Espitallier (Flammarion, 2003), was translated into English by Guy Bennett (Espitallier’s Theorem, Seismicity Editions, 2005). Fantaisie bouchère (Derrière la salle de bain, 2001) was translated by Sherry Brennan (Butcher’s Fantasy, Duration Press, 2003). He currently works on various multimedia projects, plays drums in a punk rock band, and gives readings, performances and lectures in France and abroad..

Other Words is presented and supported by the following organizations: Consulate General of Ireland; Consulate General of Sweden; the Swedish Arts Council; Consulate General of Switzerland; Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council: Goethe-Institut; Istituto Italiano di Cultura; Royal Norwegian Consulate General; The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University; Beresford Hotel; Litquake; City Lights.


Calendar Editors please note:

Other Words International Poetry Festival

October 10–12, 2008


San Francisco, CA

Venues and times:


Friday, October 10, 7:30 p.m.

Unitarian Center

1187 Franklin St., San Francisco, CA 94109

Readings in original languages and translation by: Li Li (Sweden), Ingvild Burkey (Norway), Michel Abdollahi (Germany), Genny Lim (Poetry Center), Fabiano Alborghetti (Switzerland/Italy)

Presented in cooperation with The Poetry Center, SFSU.


Saturday, October 11, 8:30 p.m.

Marsh Café

1062 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Readings in original languages only by: Fabiano Alborghetti (Switzerland), Michel Abdollahi (Germany), Sulaiman Masomi (Germany), Li Li, (Sweden), Ingvild Burkey (Norway).

Presented in cooperation with Litcrawl.

Sunday, October 12, 5 p.m.

City Lights Bookstore

261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

Readings in original languages and translation by: Jean-Michel Espitallier (France), Fabiano Alborghetti (Switzerland), Sulaiman Masomi (Germany), Li Li (Sweden), Michel Abdollahi (Germany).


Presented in cooperation with City Lights.

Press Contacts:

Ingrid Eggers, Goethe-Institut,, 415.263.8768

Martin Schwartz, Consulate General of Switzerland,, 415.788.2272 ext. 102


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