Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a special Poets' Spring that we are preparing to celebrate together.
This year, it is celebrating its twentieth anniversary, while the Ministry of Culture is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary.
I want to salute Emmanuel Hoog and André Velter, whom I see among us. Thank you to you and to Jack Lang, who couldn’t be here today, but who did so much, I know, for this wonderful event; this wonderful idea, to bring poetry into our lives as spring approaches.
For this anniversary, he chose the most appropriate themes.
This year, the Spring of Poets will be the Spring of Beauty.
And to speak of it, to speak of poetry and beauty, I am obliged to appeal to the one who, without doubt, best theorized the poetic act.
I’m talking about Rainer Maria Rilke.
In his Letters to a Young Poet, he recounts his discovery of Rome, “the multitude of his past”, “its remains that belong to another time, to a life that is not ours, and that must not be ours”..
When Rilke comes to his senses, let him «find the way of himself, still a bit dazed», the contemplation of these ruins inspires him the contemplation of the world.
He then writes:
No, there is no more beauty here than elsewhere.
If a lot of beauty is here, it is because everywhere there is a lot of beauty.”
Everywhere there is a lot of beauty…
These words should serve as a compass. They should guide us.
They are an invitation to be attentive to the world, to look at it, to dwell on it; to unveil, reveal, admire the Beautiful in our daily lives.
The Spring of Poets addresses this invitation to everyone.
An invitation to read, to declaim, to celebrate the beauty of our language.
An invitation to commune with her, with her letters and words.
An invitation to meet, to get closer, to gather.
It is the virtue of culture.
We have seen this again in recent days with the intervention of the President of the Republic on Italian television.
Convening The Art of Comedy by Eduardo De Filippo, and the genius of Da Vinci, he recalled how much our imaginations, our literatures and our cinemas constitute the friendship that binds France and Italy.
He recalled that culture reconciles.
That’s why it has its place in the Great National Debate.
I call on places of culture to seize it. They are legitimate to do so: they are by nature places of exchange, of meeting, of debate.
I was able to see him again last night at a local meeting at the School of Fine Arts.
These places of culture, the Spring of Poets will invest them from Saturday, and until March 25.
Readings, meetings, exhibitions, writing workshops are already planned, all over France.
I invite local actors to offer even more – cultural actors, but not only.
It is not only bookstores, libraries and theatres that are concerned.
Stations, public transport, schools, but also hospitals and prisons will vibrate to the rhythm of poetry.
Of all poetry, in the diversity of its forms and its audiences.
Poetry of yesterday and today, elsewhere and here, written or recited, in verse or prose…
For it is all the diversity of poetic forms that is invited to express itself.
Artists or readers, professionals or amateurs, poets for life, for a few minutes or hours…
Because it is all the diversity of audiences that is invited.
In the same way that Beauty is everywhere, the Spring of Poets will be everywhere.
And for all.
I would like to warmly thank all those who contribute to make this a great moment of culture; a great moment of celebration and sharing.
Sophie Nauleau and her team, for their commitment.
All partners – booksellers, librarians, publishers, patrons, teachers, students…– and all the artists who responded present, who give their time to make this event resonate.
Thanks to Enki Bilal, whose drawings are also poetry: your magnificent poster is a new proof.
And thank you to Rachida Brakni, who does us the great honour of being the sponsor of this edition.
You are preparing for us – from what I have been told – a superb opening show on Saturday afternoon at the Théâtre du Rond-Point…
Thank you for your dedication, for making everyone want poetry.
As spring returns, poetry calls you.
She’s calling us all.
Let’s make it happen.
Let’s gather around our love of art.
Our taste for words and Beauty.
The pleasure of reading, saying, and listening.
Let us show that, through culture, France is capable of coming together.
To experience shared emotions.
To be united.