Haiku – the shortest poetry of the world and new stars

The Miłosz Festival is not only a poetic trip inspired by A Book of Luminous Things, but also lectures and discussions devoted to haiku – the Far Eastern poetry genre that was close to Miłosz’s heart. As a part of the Festival, the 2nd International Haiku Conference will be held in the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow (the 15th-17th of May 2015). Authors, translators and connoisseurs of this genre from around the world will take part in it.

Haiku is a poetry genre characterised by aesthetic and formal minimalism and often by witty humour. Miłosz himself contributed to the popularisation of this genre by issuing a collection of poems entitled simply Haiku in 1992. This volume contained his translations of classic poems by Japanese masters and contemporary American and Canadian poets.

The Miłosz Festival will be an excellent opportunity to take a closer look at Japanese poetic traditions and the reasons for the popularity of haiku in the West. Participants can listen to lectures on classic masters of the genre, such as Matsuo Basho or Kobayashi Issy and learn about connections of haiku with painting, graphic art and photography (haiga) as well as prose (haibun). Another part of the conference will be an exhibition of haig – paintings inspired by haiku. The originator of the conference – Lidia Rozmus – will present her works, and photographic haig works will be shown by Dainius Dirgėla from Lithuania and Robert Kania from Poland.

In May, the UNESCO City of Literature will become one of the most poetic addresses in Poland, which will attract crowds of readers to meetings with poets, translators and literary scholars. One of the respectable guests of the Miłosz Festival will be Alice Oswald – an excellent British poet and the winner of the prestigious T. S. Eliot Prize. Her contextual poetry, which lavishly draws upon the history of European literature, has become popular and has been recognised among readers and critics worldwide. The meeting with Oswald will be hosted by her Polish translator Magdalena Heydel.

Poetry lovers will certainly be delighted at the presence of Uroš Zupan – one of the most important contemporary Slovenian poets; characterised by a multiplicity of voices, his poems can be interpreted as a moving dialogue with poems by John Ashbery or Tomaž Šalamun. Zupan himself admits his fascination with works of Polish poets – Miłosz and Świetlicki.

Another distinct voice of the Festival will be the poet and philosopher Michał Sobol. His latest volume Pulsary [Pulsars] was nominated for the most important literary awards: the Gdynia Literary Award and the Wisława Szymborska Poetry Award.

Participation in the 4th Miłosz Festival was also confirmed by the Polish ‘foreigner poet’ Wioletta Grzegorzewska, the author of the enthusiastically acclaimed poetic prose collection Guguły. She has run literary workshops in libraries, schools and cultural centres, and her poems have been published in many literary magazines. She won, among others, an award at the Polish Books Literary Competition in London.

Each new information about the program of the 4th Miłosz Festival proves that this year’s festival should be an extremely interesting event. We recommend booking a visit to poetic Krakow in May in your calendar already now!