Testimonials from Festival Participants
The most moving thing that never leaves me till today is the feeling that Tbilisi is a text itself. A sort of a novel-city one picks from the most distant book-shelf in order to revive some pages of it in one’s mind. As soon as you open the book you are attached to it; and its streets are dusty like the pages of an old book; and poets resemble the crime-drama characters; and its women request to be addressed in rhymes. As soon as you are through with the novel you put it aside with the sense of regret. But you still keep it close within your reach forever.
Serhiy Zhadan (Ukraine)
I came to Tbilisi expecting a dry literary conference of interviews and networking and instead I got my heart cracked open. I have never experienced anything like this festival, surrounded by a wild diversity of people and ideas in a city of such incredible beauty, hearing literature and poetry in a dozen different languages, reveling in a camaraderie that transcended all borders. These are memories I’ll treasure forever.
Isaac Marion (USA)
Whenever I come to Tbilisi, I always come across with the unforeseen fifth time of the year – summer in the middle of spring and summer in the middle of fall. It’s scary to imagine what will happen if I arrive in the middle of summer… When being in interesting cities, I get the creative flow for writing poems, whereas in uninteresting cities I cannot write. It’s so incredibly interesting at the festival in Tbilisi that it’s simply a shame to waste time on them. Poetry is dreamt here. Tbilisian graffiti comes down from the walls and summons the night dogs. Dogs invite to the Thai massage in human voice. Thai masseuses appear to be bookinists and, taking advantage of my illiteracy, are selling me Georgian translations of my own poems. And I, together with all masseuses and bookinists, am getting into the minibus to see sea and mountains. The minibus gets held into a traffic jam, as there are a lot of poets at the festival in Tbilisi and each of them has their own night minibus. Then one of the drivers turns on loud music and the entire city, wine and churchkhela sellers, poets and the night dogs, sea and mountains begin to sing along and dance to it. At the exit of the minibus there’s Belarus and customs, where they take away my wine and churchkhela, sea and mountains, and even the poems I came up with in my dreams. They leave me with just this text as the customs declaration.
Andrej Khadanovich (Belarus)
Of the 50 or so festivals I have been to, the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature was the absolute best. And there are many good festivals. TIFL has just the right combination of everything that makes literature exciting and interesting.
Arne Svingen (Norway)
As Georgia is the crossroads of civilizations, so the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature is the crossroads of languages. Intimate in scale, with dedicated staff and charming locations, the festival allows for transformative conversations and enlivening performances. Poetry is spoken here!
Charles Bernstein (USA)
The Festival of Literature takes place in the magical mountainous landscape covered with a labyrinth of streets and balconies. Tbilisi appeared to me as a place straight out of dreams about the city of the sun, with its own unique alphabet, language, art, cuisine, and unmatched hospitality that involves endless wine and 2 am feasts. The Writer's House where the readings took place is an elegant, historic location that drew a large and attentive audience. I was very moved by the Red Terror tour organized by the festival. The tour took us from the sunlit streets into the places marked by great violence. Georgian culture is unlike any other, ancient and unique. Don't miss a chance to see Pirosmani at the museum of art! Be ready to encounter many beautiful and hospitable people.
Valzhyna Mort (Belarus)
I have been to many literary festivals over the years, none more enlightening and international in scope than Tbilisi's. It exemplified the spirited dialogue and cultural exchange we all hope to encounter on such occasions, and the warmth and generosity of the staff were unparalleled. Add to that the extraordinary, ancient and contemporary cultural landscape of Georgia itself, to which participants were given informed access, and the experience was deeply memorable.
Michael Palmer (The USA)
A Festival like no other. All in a wonderful palace, in a house ringing out of lives and stories like a music box. Here you will find voices in every language of Europe and further, get the lucky chance to hear the sound of mysterious Georgian. A great party of words in the heart of a beautiful, friendly and lively capital. A place to visit, to stay, to come back.
The Writers’ House of Georgia is simply one of the coolest places and the festival one of the coolest events I have ever been a part of. The culture is amazing, the city is perhaps the most beautiful in the world, and the people are gracious and welcoming. I can’t wait to come back!
Blake Crouch (The USA)