In March 2023, Science is Wonderful! science fair took place in Brussels. I had the opportunity to accompany a literary scholar, a creative researcher, Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow Elina Mikkilä who had proposed a creative poetry game for the fair. Elina is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Creative-Critical Writing at the Lancaster University.
The Science is Wonderful fair had 4000 primary and secondary school pupils from across Belgium and abroad visiting during two full working days. My fear that who would visit a poetry stand when you can have science experiments was absolutly not justified. There where pupils all the time around our stand. All together there where more then 100 international researchers present in around 40 different stands.
The description of our stand was:
Unlock Your Inner Poet with Our Multilingual ‘Téléphone Arabe’
Come play a multilingual ‘Chinese whispers 2.0’ with us! You will get the chance to be one of many poets by sending associative messages. No worries if the answers come in multiple languages. We will draw inspiration from them anyway; every interpretation will do! Whenever something in the resulting gibberish ‘rings a bell’ in the languages you know, send a message inspired by the last one in the chain. We will play as many rounds as we have time for and then compare the first and the last message – to see how far the creative power of multilingualism can take us!