Poetry without borders

The last day of the Miłosz Festival began with a poetic May picnic in one of the most beautiful gardens of Krakow, at the Józef Mehoffer House – and ended with a journey with a finger over a map, or rather, over the Atlas Estremo. In the Mehoffer garden the poets not only read their poems, but also answered difficult questions asked by Paulina Małochleb – where is the border of intimacy in the poetry and how significant is the trash can in the creative process. It was not an easy meeting – the creators admitted to having doubts, destroying poems, and Klara Nowakowska said she even wanted to remove her book from the competition for Jacek Bierezin Prize, the competition that she later… won.

The border of intimacy was also an important theme in the discussion between Joanna Zach, Agnieszka Kosińska – the author of the book Miłosz in Krakow, Jerzy Illg, editor-in-chief of the Znak publishing house and Ireneusz Kania, a translator. Agnieszka Kosińska was an assistant to the Nobelist for a number of years, as well as the custodian of the poet’s house. She admitted that after taking care of the poet’s calendar she can still recall individual days from the life of the creator of the Book of Luminous Things, including the hardest ones – the last days of the artist’s life.

In his discussion with Marcin Hamkało, Korneljus Platelis, a poet from Lithuania – a country that was very important to Miłosz – spoke about the usefulness of an engineer’s education in poetry and disclosed the identity behind the broken vase, which appears in the title of his collection. He added that poetry was an easier solution when using Aesopian language was necessary in order to smuggle the truth under a watchful eye of the censorship.

The Lithuanian poet emphasised that for him, the most interesting possibility provided by poetry is adding new contexts to the histories that took place in reality.

Yurii Andrukhovych, one of the most important Ukrainian authors, also admitted that he devoted many of his poems to the characters he knew from urban legends. Doctor Dudka and the Captain’s Wife become alive between the verses of his poems, and the poet himself watches his characters with affection.

Edward Pasiewicz said that Andrukhovych, the author of, among others, Piosenki dla martwego koguta [Songs for a Dead Rooster] in fact realises the postulate stated by Czesław Miłosz in the Book of Luminous Things in full – his poetry and activity in the Bu-Ba-Bu group helped to dismantle the communist regime in Ukraine. Today, in the face of Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Andrukhovych is also actively working for his country.

During the final concert that capped off the Miłosz Festival, Andrukhovych with Karbido group from Wrocław took us on a journey not only to Ukraine – Atlas Estremo is a journey around the world, to the cities that watch themselves in a phantasmagorical mirror. The road is full of magnetic visions, but also a sense of unrest that lurks somewhere in the East. Andrukhovych and Karbido plucked the string of sentiments and took us to places that are impossible to find in official guides to Moscow, New York or Drohobych.

Although the fourth edition of the Miłosz Festival has ended, the celebration of poetry in Krakow never really ends – just follow the activities of the Krakow Festival Office and City of Literature Foundation.