”It would be good if poetry books were discussed not only on the award-giving occasions” – said Marcin Sendecki, the winner of the Wisława Szymborska Award, on the last day of the Festival. Because in Poland we have really great poetry.
W stands for Warsaw. Or for weaving memories. Or perhaps watching sights. On Saturday evening Marcin Sendecki received one of the most important Polish poetry awards – the Wisława Szymborska Award — for his volume with the shortest possible title. On Sunday morning he met with readers in the Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace, a branch of the National Museum in Krakow, this year’s Festival Centre.
It was the second meeting with the author. For the first time he talked about W on Saturday, not knowing yet that his volume would be found the best poetry book of last year. ”I’d like to say that my book hasn’t changed since yesterday; it’s neither better nor worse. And, with all due respect to the award-giving industry, it would be good if we discussed poetry books not only when they receive awards”, said the author. Because in Poland we really have great poetry. On Sunday morning Sendecki did not talk much about W – he explained it content and meaning on the previous meeting, after all. Here he was talking more about the method and the present condition of a poet. “ I assure you that writing makes sense. Recently I have written the critical review of a certain crime story. And see what happened? I was son out of the Jury at one competition. So some do read my writing, and what is more, think it’s important” – he said with his characteristic humour.
The winner of the Wisława Szymborska Award appeared in a select company. In the afternoon readers met with Adam Zagajewski, an outstanding Polish poet, essayist, prose writer, academic and translator. On the last day of the Festival, the readers also met with two female poets, who clearly stand out from their generation, creating sensitive poetry in a sophisticated form. The poets were Anna Piwkowska – the laureate of the City of Warsaw Literary Award, and Ewa Lipska, a Krakow-based poet, columnist and editor, a co-founder of the Association of Polish Writers.
On the last day of the Festival the floor was also given to those who enrich Polish literature on a daily basis – the translators, or as they like to say about themselves, authors of translations. “We co-create, not only re-create texts. I think about myself as a writer, a Polish-language writer”, said Jerzy Koch, who specialises in the Afrikaans language. ”The role of a translator is a little like that of a conductor, who does not only manages the orchestra but also creates the work anew”. Apart from Jerzy Koch, Justyna Czechowska (Swedish language) and Agata Hołobut (English language) also participated in the translators’ debate. The panellists translate from different languages, but all of the agree that they are lucky ”How many people can say that they do the job they really like? A per mille? I am part of that per mille” – said Justyna Czechowska. ”A translator is someone who can read texts over and over again. And not the texts you don’t like, by the great works of literature”, added Czechowska.
The end of the Festival was no less abundant with events as the other days. In addition to the meetings with authors and translators with the book lovers, there were such events as poetry reading on Marii Magdaleny Square under OFF Miłosz programme and the night concert of the group Pablopavo and Ludziki, which played the pieces from their most recent record Ladinola. They also prepared a special surprise for the Festival participants: The Song with lyrics by Czesław Miłosz. The Award of the Ferdinand the Magnificent went to the best children’s writer, Karol Kalinowski, for his book Kościsko – a story about a mysterious town in which the father and his daughter try to start a new life.
Those who couldn’t make it during the festival days, could watch the performance After Exile in Nowy Proxima Theatre. The scenario was based on Czesław Miłosz’s works. The director, Tomasz Cyz, did not try to build a story from unrelated poems. He has chosen one motif: love, with all its variations: falling in love, lust, jealousy and burn-out, and let the actors speak with the language of the Nobel Prize-winning author. All happens close to the audience, with a minimalist stage set, almost without music and light operation. Who needs the fireworks, if we all know what love is like. A serene and respectful tribute to Miłosz’s oeuvre.