During his lifetime, Czesław Miłosz — a citizen of Poland and of the world — was focused on opening Polish literature up to world literature. Thanks to the power of his international authority, he managed to get rid of the odium of the complex from the Polish language, and thanks to poetry, he made it equal to the dominant and large languages, allowing for expression of complex secrets of individual and collective existence. In a profound sense, Miłosz “seized power” over the world of literature. The Seizure of Power, one of seminal works by Czesław Miłosz and his first novel, is not just about the rise of Stalinism in Poland and should not be interpreted only from a personal perspective. Above all, it conveys the concept of seizing power at the level of imagination, appropriation of spiritual aspirations of human beings using a specific model of narration of the world that is offensive to these aspirations. The present times, particularly their global dimension, seem to be a game of narratives and struggle, between numerous stories and narratives which simplify the depth of one’s experience of the world, a struggle for power over the imagination of individuals. These narratives also create the pressure of censorship and self-censorship, the combination of which can be seen in the words we use to describe the surrounding world. During the 8th edition of the Miłosz Festival, we are going to take a closer look at these stories — we will interpret them and deconstruct them critically together with guests from Poland and all over the world.
The Miłosz Festival serves as a living forum for dialogue taking place in many languages, at the crossroads of many cultures and strategies of describing the world, with poets from Poland and countries around the world supplying this dialogue with high-octane, lyrical fuel. The rich programme of the Festival includes meetings with authors, panel debates, educational workshops, artistic events, premières of poetry volumes and literary magazines, as well as the OFF stream presenting experimental and performative poetry, this year focused on the issues of revolution, violence — including symbolic one — and above all artistic ways of peaceful “seizure of power”.
We are going to have poets from all linguistic and cultural areas coming to the footsteps of Wawel Hill. They will participate in meetings with the audience during individual and group presentations, and translations of their books will be disseminated among the Polish audience. The brand of the Miłosz Festival makes these books a material and lasting component that enriches the national culture. National culture is also enriched, changed and updated thanks to translation, which broadens the language of mutual communication, civilising the struggle for symbolic power. Culture must be hospitable so that it does not turn out to be enslavement through one dominant discourse. The Miłosz Festival has built a hospitable home, in which a multitude of languages resounds with a constant invitation.
Krzysztof Siwczyk, Artistic Director of the Miłosz Festival