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Poems for Europe: 10 national portraits in verse

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What happened when 10 European poets were asked to portray their home country in verse ahead of the European elections? Well, the first thing some of them did was cheat. Then they all became a little melancholic

Some weeks ago, the German news magazine Die Zeit asked us if we would collaborate on a series of poems ahead of this week's European elections. Magazines across the continent not necessarily within the EU itself would commission a favourite poet to write four lines on their country. Please forgive the glaring omissions the result has been dictated by those who decided to take part and instead worry for Europa. Clearly this is not a continent suffering from bombastic self-confidence; in fact, quite the opposite. If, à la Eurovision, we are barred from handing the laurels to our choice the multi award-winning Don Paterson we'd have to give douze points to Kosovo's Shpëtim Selmani for a spectacular exercise in concise pessimism.

Poems translated from the original by Michael Melis, Philip Oltermann, Katie Allen, Nabeelah Shabbir, Daan Louter

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