The ninth edition of the Miłosz Festival starts on 4 June

An uninvited guest is changing our world beyond recognition. It reshapes the scenery of everyday paths and derails the routine of experiences on which we build our personal and collective sense of security. The Miłosz Festival is responding to this (dis)order with a new focal point – on word, meaning, and emotions. The ninth edition of one of the most important poetry events in Poland is moving online and will start on 4 June. The festival will open with a poetic and musical polyphony with the participation of Ewa Lipska, Ryszard Krynicki and Adam Zagajewski, among others.

“New Focal Point” is the title of this year’s edition of the Miłosz Festival. And although Krakow will be the centre of the poetic ferment, this time the festival geography should be treated as imaginary. Moved entirely online, the Miłosz Festival will reach everywhere that web browser windows open to poetry. The main venue for meetings with authors important for Polish and foreign poetry will be the festival fanpage on Facebook. Starting on 4 June, the planned opening day of the on-site festival at the hospitable Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre, lovers of poetry will be able to enjoy the rich festival programme online. Its first event, which cannot be overlooked, is the poetic-musical meeting “Republica Poetica” with the participation of Polish poets. The Miłosz Festival programme, which will last until the Autumn, will also include five premieres of poetry volumes, focused writing workshops with Barbara Klicka, Mikołaj Grynberg and Tomasz Cieślak-Sokołowski, a series of literature podcasts, the Young Poetry Competition for poets who have not yet made their debut and events under the patronage of the OFF programming stream. During this unusual edition of the festival, an attempt to capture the state of the poetry of the “here and now” will meet with a searching look into the past through the presentation of archival film materials dedicated to Polish literary creators.

New Focal Point

The coronavirus epidemic has forced a change in professional relations, the way we spend time, communicate, create and partake of cultural goods. The organisers of this year’s edition of the festival – Olga Brzezińska, Programme Director, Krzysztof Siwczyk, the Artistic Director, and Izabela Helbin, Director of the Krakow Festival Office – explain the concept of the festival in a letter addressed to the festival audience: “The new focal point means a multi-layered change: we will move the Miłosz Festival programme to the public spaces of the Internet, we will concentrate on literature, we will meet at the fibreoptic intersections and above all, we will focus on word, detail, meaning and emotions. This strange situation of living ‘in-between-time’, in the suspension and uncertainty of tomorrow, sharpens our attention to what – we hope – is only temporarily lost. Poetry has used new forms of communication for many years. It is not an adamantine language. It reacts in its infinite diversity, to the tiniest of movements in the great dictionary from which we draw, describing the world. Sometimes it contributes to major changes in this dictionary, restoring words to their basic meaning. What we gain from the experience of the pandemic consists in the sharpened attention with which we treat our surrounding reality”. Finally, poetry is a language of hope that reacts vividly to social and cultural processes, seeking words to name what lies ahead. The several-month-long adventure with poetry will open with a unique meeting whose title should not deceive anyone.

Republica Poetica: ‘A Song On the End of the World’

If the end of the world comes, it will happen imperceptibly: everything will remain in its place, life will go on with its usual rhythm, as always. “There will be no other end of the world”, Czesław Miłosz writes in his poem from the volume Ocalenie (“Rescue”), published in 1945. Or maybe the end of the world is happening now, before our eyes? On 4 June, at 7 p.m., during the opening of the ninth edition of the Miłosz Festival, renowned Polish poets will participate in a poetry and music evening inspired by “A Song On the End of the World”. Together, Miłosz Biedrzycki, Wojciech Bonowicz, Małgorzata Lebda, Ewa Lipska, Ryszard Krynicki, Joanna Oparek, Krzysztof Siwczyk and Adam Zagajewski will seek a new focal point for lyrical matter. The meeting will be hosted by Marta Eloy Cichocka, and double bass player Marcin Oleś will  create the musical setting. The stanzas of this “song” will be constructed from poems by festival guests read in Polish, English, French and Spanish. The event will be broadcast on the Facebook fanpage of the Miłosz Festival and on the YouTube channel of the Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre.

Regular Features of the Festival

As is does every year, the festival will premiere poetry volumes. Together with the a5 Publishing House, the Rafał Wojaczek Institute of Mikołów, the Ha!art Corporation, the Borderland Publishing House and the Publishing House of the Voivodeship Public Library and Animation Centre in Poznań, the organisers have prepared five exceptional poetry books. They will be released on 4 June, the opening day of the festival, with their authors and translators reading excerpts on the festival’s Facebook fanpage. During this year’s edition, “off” stream elements will appear again. Under the auspices of the experimental OFF stream, there will be a series of poetry slams jointly organised by KONTENT magazine and the Krakow School of Poetry. Other festival events will soon be announced, including the 5th Young Poetry Competition for poets before their debut and the recruitment for writing workshops.

The Miłosz Festival is organised by the City of Krakow, the Krakow Festival Office, the operator of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature programme, and the City of Literature Foundation.