Struga Poetry Evenings (SPE) (Macedonian: Струшки вечери на поезијата, СВП; tr. Struški večeri na poezijata, SVP) is an international poetry festival held annually in Struga, Republic of Macedonia. During the several decades of its existence, the Festival has awarded its most prestigious award, the Golden Wreath, to some of the most notable international poets, including: Mahmoud Darwish, Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan Agyey , W. H. Auden, Joseph Brodsky, Allen Ginsberg, Bulat Okudzhava, Pablo Neruda, Eugenio Montale, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Artur Lundkvist, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Nichita Stănescu, Ted Hughes, Makoto Ooka, Miroslav Krleža, Yehuda Amichai, Seamus Heaney and domestic authors such as Blaže Koneski and Mateja Matevski.
The festival began in 1961 in Struga, then People’s Republic of Macedonia with Macedonian poets only, while in 1963 it expanded its list of participants with poets from all around the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Miladinov Brothers Award was established for a best poetry book published between two consecutive festivals. By 1966 the event turned into an international cultural festival. The Golden Wreath international award was established in the same year and its first recipient was Robert Rozhdestvensky. In 2003, in a close cooperation with UNESCO, the Festival established another international award called The Bridges of Struga, for a best debut poetry book by a young author. During its long successful existence, the festival has hosted about 4,000 poets, translators, essayists and literary critics from about 95 countries of the world.
The festival has awarded some of the world’s most eminent literary figures, including several Nobel Prize for Literature winners such as Joseph Brodsky,Eugenio Montale, Pablo Neruda and Seamus Heaney, the first African member of the French Academy Léopold Sédar Senghor who was also aPresident of Senegal, the official royal Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, W. H. Auden who is regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and many others.
A point of interest is that the festival often awarded foreign poets who were considered dissidents in their countries, including for example the Russianexiled poet Joseph Brodsky, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, the American beatnik Allen Ginsberg, the Soviet bard Bulat Okudzhava and many others.
In memory of the laureates, the Park of Poetry featuring memorial boards dedicated to each of them was established near the Struga Cultural Center.
The festival consists of several events held at different locations
Opening ceremony on the plateau in front of the Cultural Centre in Struga including a traditional reading of A Longing for The South (Macedonian language: Т’га за југ) the famous nostalgic lyrical poem written by the Struga-born poet Konstantin Miladinov during his life in Imperial Russia.
Meridians (Меридијани) a poetry reading by various international poets in the Cultural Centre following the opening ceremony.
Portrait of the Laurеate (Портрет на лауреатот) an event devoted to the year’s main award recipient traditionally held in the church of St. Sofia in the nearby city of Ohrid usually accompanied by classical music, opera or domestic or foreign ethnic musicperformance.
Nights without Punctuation (Ноќи без интерпункција) multimedia artistic events featuring experimental forms of poetic presentations, which can also include other arts like music and video art.
Poetry picnic at Saint Nahum springs near the Ohrid Lake.
Bridges (Мостови) the closing ceremony held at the Bridge of Poetry on the river Drim in Struga including poetry readings and the awarding ceremony.
Other events include workshops, round-table discussions on various social topics and their influence on poetry, etc.
Another event in the so called Caravan of Poetry, which consists of poetry performances around the country. Usually, after the end of the Festival, the Festival also organizes poetry reading in the national capital, Skopje.
Golden Wreath (Златен венец), the main international award given to a world renowned living poet for life achievement in the field of poetry. The recipient’s name is publicized usually several months in advance.
Miladinov Brothers Award (Браќа Миладиновци) for a best book published between two festivals.
Bridges of Struga, for debutant book (together with UNESCO).