Première books of poetry and the Almanac

Starting on June 9, Milosz Festival will allow discovering unknown territories of poetry, as well as the poetry of foreign visitors of the event. And the pleasure will be not only on its participants’ side. The fruit of collaboration between Festival organizers and publishing houses: Znak, Marginesy, the Mikołowski Institute, Anagram and the College of Eastern Europe, are books of poems previously unavailable in Polish, and translated by prominent translators. They will allow meeting both the authors and their exceptional works at the Miłosz Festival, and their exceptional works to settle permanently in the Polish literary life.

In his poetry, Adonis, the most famous Arab modern poet focuses on building bridges between different spaces of experience – the man and the world, culture and nature, but also between Arab and European civilizations. Although he is known for a critical distance towards his cultural roots, at the same time he tries to find common ground between East and West – not only through poetry, but also by his outstanding translations into Arabic. His volume Welcoming the Wind and Trees, translated by Katy Keresztély and Michał Grabowski, was prepared by the publishing house Anagram.

A selection of poems by yet another distinguished guest of the Festival – Breyten Breytenbach, South African writer, poet, essayist and painter, was prepared by the Foundation City of Literature. The book titled Travel Chorus contains poems translated from English and Afrikaans (Breytenbach writes in both these languages), many of them published for the first time. It contains translations by Miłosz Biedrzycki, Mieczyslaw Godynia, Magda Heydel, Agata Hołobut, Justyna Hunia, Jerzy Koch and Agnieszka Pokojska.

Ashur Etwebi is a remarkable figure: practising physician, poet and translator, a spokesperson for women’s rights and democracy, who contributed greatly to the development of cultural life in Libya. Writing in the dialect of his country, and thus taking what is closest to him outside the universality of the Arab circle, he incurred the wrath of conservatives. Therefore, from 2015, he resides in Trondheim under the ICORN Programme, a network of cities of refuge for artists, which also includes Krakow, UNESCO’s City of Literature. A collection of his poems, Disappearing Boats, translated by Renata Senktas, was published by the Mikołowski Institute. As Krzysztof Siwczyk writes: “Giving up the easy consolations, Etwebi proposes poetry that is sensation-hungry, open to the depth of sensory experience, which offers the reader to lose oneself in a wonderful multiformity and the density of matter and life (…)”.

Also waiting to be discovered are cultural areas much closer than Libya. Flanders, Stefan Hertmans’ land, is an area of almost obscure, unique identity, which is looking for its language. And such is also the work of Hertmans, as a poet deeply immersed in philosophy, remaining between modernism and post-modernity, richly rooted in the tradition of the Surrealists. His book of poetry Landscape by Carpaccio, translated by Jerzy Koch and Sławomir Paszkiet, was prepared by the Marginesy publishing house.

Cinnamon Collector – a book by poet Michael Ondaatje, born in Sri Lanka and currently living in Canada, was released by publishing house Znak, translated by Mieczysław Godynia, Agata Hołobut and Jerzy Jarniewicz. Widely known of fiction, Ondaatje himself gives priority to his poetic identity. In his work, he balances between prose and poetry, history and mythology, reality and fantasy. Cinnamon Collector shows the multilateralism, which is the source of the wealth of personal experiences of the Canadian poet. His works are touching collages that draw from family stories and convert them into universal ones.

Another guest of the festival is a poet, who also refers to  philosophical thinking – Olga Syedakova. Considered the most outstanding Russian religious poet, Syedakova combines the Christian heritage of the East and the West in her works. Her poems touch on metaphysics, the complexity of the world as manifested in everyday experiences, as well as the complexity of human relationships. The book Angel of Reims and Other Poems, translated by Adam Pomorski, an eminent translator of many works of literature from Russian (including the first translations of Syedakova into Polish), German, English, Belarusian and Ukrainian, was prepared by the College of Eastern Europe publishing house.

The selected books of poetry are distinguished by one more detail. They are printed in the typeface Milosz, created by Damien Collot, winner of the Czeslaw Milosz International Typeface Competition in 2011. The competition was organized to honour the centenary of the birth of the poet, by the Foundation of New Art ZNACZY SIĘ. For more information go to: www.typemilosz2011.pl

The occasion of the 5th Miłosz Festival will also be celebrated by a Polish-English Almanac, which is a kind of guide to the events associated with this unique festival of poetry. In addition to the excellent introducing essays to the festival meetings and debates, it also contains poems of the invited poets and poetesses. This book is not only a guide that comes handy in the journey through the festival events, but also a concise poetic anthology.

The première books of poems and the Almanac will be available during the Festival at the Hutten-Czapski Museum and the zones dedicated to the Festival in the city’s bookstores (among them: Lokator, Pod Globusem, Matras at the Market Square, Główna Księgarnia Naukowa), and are highly recommended by the organizers of the Festival, the Krakow Festival Office and the Foundation City of Literature.