The Helena Modrzejewska National Old Theatre, Be MICET Zone, Krzysztofory Palace, Alchemia Club, Krakow bookstores – these are just some of the places where poetry will reign between June 6th and 9th. The most interesting and exciting aspects of the work of contemporary poets will be the touched upon during meetings with authors, panel debates and educational workshops during the 8th edition of the Miłosz Festival. Today, we will meet new authors who will come to the City of Kings during the June poetry festival.
“During his lifetime, Czesław Miłosz — a citizen of Poland and of the world — was focused on opening the Polish literature up to world literature”, wrote Krzysztof Siwczyk, Programme Director of the Miłosz Festival, in the introduction to this year’s edition. Apart from presenting the works of the most important contemporary poets, the aim of the Miłosz Festival is to establish a space for intercultural understanding, a forum for dialogue, a place where domestic and foreign poetry listen to each other. Who will take part in this lyrical polyphony?
Piotr Florczyk, an outstanding translator of Polish poetry living in the USA, finally makes his debut in his native language with the book Dwa tysiące słów [Two Thousand Words] – exactly enough to make this language sound new and intriguing. His translations are recognised by the world’s most important juries – in 2017, he received the Found in Translation Award and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from The Academy of American Poets for his translation of Anna Świrszczyńska’s volume of poetry Budowałam barykadę / Building the Barricade. Uta Przyboś, an artist using various means of expression, also confirmed her participation in the festival. Although she chose mathematics at the beginning of her student career, she eventually changed her major to painting. Her works were exhibited in Poland and abroad, and they can be found in private collections in Poland, Belgium, the UK and in Luxembourg. Her poetic language owes much to her painting experience – it is completely independent, clear and original, which is difficult to achieve when one is the daughter of Julian Przyboś, one of the most eminent Polish poets of the 20th century. Krakow will also be visited by Antoni Pawlak, a journalist, author of twenty volumes of poetry and a long-time spokesperson for the Mayor of Gdańsk. The artist is considered to be a true legend of Polish poetry; his volumes Książeczka wojskowa and Obudzimy się nagle w pędzących pociągach are as current today, as they were during martial law when they were originally published. Antony Pawlak’s rebellion never stops – instead, it only intensifies. The festival will also feature a poetic voice from the North – an illustrator and translator of poetry, Alicja Rosé, who travelled across the Scandinavian and Baltic countries for several years to work on a poetic volume with her own illustrations, entitled Północ. Przypowieści – a volume that is the artist’s attempt to understand what it means to be a European today. She remains a mysterious and still undiscovered author of original poems powered by cold imagination, which brings to mind the outstanding works by Tomas Tranströmer. Tomasz Różycki, one of the most famous Polish poets of the middle generation in the world, will also join us for the Festival. His works are often translated into various languages, and the poet himself has some significant merits in this field – he has translated works by Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé, among many others. A true ambassador of Polish poetry, who undoubtedly follows in the footsteps of the festival’s patron, opening Polish literature up to world literature.
Svetlana Cârstean, one of the most important authors of contemporary Romanian poetry, also joins the ranks of festival guests. Her debut volume Floarea de menghină (Flower in a Vise, 2008) brought her numerous awards, which, as it soon turned out, marked the continuation of her literary career. Cârstean’s emotional and humorous poetry has been translated into numerous languages, including Polish, and June will see the publication of her joint volume with Athena Farrokhzad, who will also be joining us during this year’s Miłosz Festival, entitled Trado, translated by Joanna Kornaś-Warwas from Romanian and Justyna Czechowska from Swedish, edited by Marta Eloy Cichocka.
The Miłosz Festival also has its regular guests, including Tomas Venclova, the most outstanding Lithuanian poet living today, listed among the “great three” poets of Central Europe of the 20th century, which he established together with Josif Brodsky and Czesław Miłosz. He was forced to emigrate – as an activist of the human rights movement, persecuted by totalitarianism, he lived in the USA for 40 years. He received honorary doctorates from many universities in Poland and around the world. He translated poems by Miłosz, Szymborska and Herbert into Lithuanian, while his works were translated by Stanisław Barańczak, Zbigniew Dmitroca, Beata Kalęba and Alina Kuzborska in a wonderful volume of selected poems Obrócone w ciszę. His masterclass on the first day of the festival is an event that you cannot miss!
We could not speak of opening up to the poetry from around the world, if it were not for the work of translators who broaden the boundaries of our understanding of others through literature. We will be able to admire their work by reading the Polish translations of our guests’ poems, but also by taking the unique opportunity to learn from the best during the translation workshops, which are a staple of the festival’s programme. Workshops of English poetry translation will be conducted by Jerzy Jarniewicz, translator of Simon Armitage and Denise Riley; French classes will be conducted by Agata Kozak, translator of Saleh Diab’s works; Leszek Szaruga – a translator responsible for Elena Fanailova’s poems – will guide the participants across the winding roads of Russian translation. Registration for the workshops will be open until the 15th of May.
This year’s edition of the Miłosz Festival, entitled The Seizure of Power will take place between 6th and 9th June in Krakow. The title of the festival was taken from the title of Czesław Miłosz’s first novel, which exposes the inner workings of Stalinism and tells the story of gaining symbolic power by imposing a way of thinking about reality and the language used to interpret its phenomena.