Between the 6th and 9th of June, the Miłosz Festival will host exceptional poets from Poland and abroad. This year’s festival centre, the Helena Modrzejewska National Old Theatre, festival bookshops, cafés and clubs, where poetry will be the most important on these days – the poetic polyphony of our guests will be present in all those places. Today, we present their profiles and remind you that the largest poetry festival in this part of Europe is just around the corner!
This year’s Miłosz Festival, taking place under slogan “The Seizure of Power “, is a living forum of dialogue taking place in many languages and at the intersection of many cultures. Who will provide this dialogue with high-octane, lyrical fuel? One of the most important contemporary English poets and the winner of probably all-important poetry awards in the UK has confirmed his presence at the festival. Simon Armitage is a professor at Oxford University and commander of the Order of the British Empire: he knows all about the collapse of this empire and the hated word “Brexit”. His poetry, disturbing, dynamic and drawing on prose forms, continues to influence Polish poetry. Denise Riley, a poet and political theory scholar, lecturer at English universities and an expert on the history of feminism, will also come to Krakow from the British Isles. The author of the renowned War in the Nursery: Theories of the Child and Mother and Marxism for Infants is an intriguing poet who combines lyricism with a cool theoretical impulse in her poems.
The invited artists will share with us their experiences gained in places where censorship deprives people of their freedom, the fate of citizens is often determined by violence and where armed conflicts were or are taking place. Ferida Duraković, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, called her most famous volume of poems Heart of Darkness. The siege of Sarajevo and the images of war emerge in her poems and essays. One of the most prominent figures in contemporary Russian poetry, Elena Fanailova, winner of the prestigious Andrei Bely Prize, manifests an intellectual “resistance movement” against symbolic violence and the policy of aggression in her contentious poetry which exposes the mechanisms of social life. Saleh Diab, born in Aleppo, a city-symbol and a testing ground for international war interests, has lived in France for many years, tirelessly promoting and translating Syrian poetry. In his work, he combines the experience of suffering and hope. Athena Farrokhzad, one of the most important and youngest voices of contemporary Swedish poetry, born in Tehran, will introduce herself to the Krakow audience. Her debut volume, White Blight, has been translated into twelve languages, including Polish, and has been staged several times at the theatre. Her poetry is a polyphony of voices full of anger and grief, practically begging to be shouted from the stage. The festival will not lack bold, radical gestures. Cypriot-Australian poet and actress Koraly Dimitriadis, author of the volume Love and Fuck Poems, currently a scholarship holder of the UNESCO City of Literature residency programme in Krakow, uncompromisingly opposes cultural and religious repression in her work. Poetry is the basis for her theatrical performance and a series of short films in which she herself appeared. Speaking of unruly artists, it is worth mentioning the musical duo Landschaft. Grygorii Semenchuk from Lviv and Ulrike Almut Sandig from Berlin combine their German and Ukrainian poems with hip-hop, electropunk and pop. In the vapours of dense, claustrophobic sounds, they express a generational rebellion, a rejection of the growing importance of right-wing movements and the migration crisis in Europe.
The Miłosz Festival is also a presentation of the works of authors whose voices delight and surprise, arousing the curiosity of readers of contemporary Polish poetry. The festival will be an opportunity to meet Krystyna Dąbrowska. The latest volume of the winner of the first edition of the Wisława Szymborska Award, Ścieżki dźwiękowe, brings to perfection the sparse poetics of observing the world, in which minor movements and situations instantly recall the general meanings and the always debatable, existential diagnoses of our “here and now”. Maciej Melecki, a fierce avant-garde artist and author of the “radical sadness” living in each of his poems, also refers to the world around us. His work is an expression of his refusal to accept the existing world of social, political and metaphysical illusions. Magdalena Kicińska is undoubtedly one of the most promising voices of young poetry. Her bravura poetic debut, Środki transportu immediately puts the author in an uncomfortable role – her second book will have to confirm her literary talent, with which she delighted in Pani Stefa. Presenting his performance at the festival will be Jakub Kornhauser, poet, translator, literary critic and literary scholar, another winner of the Wisława Szymborska Award among this year’s festival guests. In each of these fields, he is immersed in the heritage of the avant-garde, with particular emphasis on surrealism and concrete poetry (a genre combining elements of poetry and visual arts) of the Romance and Central European countries.
In the fire of literary polemics, in a café setting with a glass of wine or in the hum of the mixed voices of a crowd in a club – we invite you to actively commune with the most current poetry and its outstanding representatives. An opportunity like this only comes along once a year!
In conclusion: the rich programme of the Miłosz Festival includes, among others, meetings with authors, panel debates, poetry translation workshops, as well as the OFF band, presenting experimental and performative poetry. To find out more about the guests of this year’s edition, visit the website www.miloszfestival.pl and the festival fanpage on Facebook. See you there!
The Miłosz Festival is organised by the City of Krakow, Krakow Festival Office and the City of Literature Foundation.