We announce the 10th Miłosz Festival under the motto “Unattainable Earth” | Miłosz Festival

We announce the 10th Miłosz Festival under the motto “Unattainable Earth”

Agi Miszol, Alice Oswald, Ivan Štrpka, Peter Gizzi and Anthony Joseph are foreign guests of this year’s Miłosz Festival to be held under the motto “Unattainable Earth”. We will talk about broadly defined difficulties in getting control of and moving around the Earth both in the literal and symbolic sense. This year’s festival will be held from 9th till 11th July. The organisers of the event are the City of Kraków, the Kraków Festival Office and the City of Literature Foundation.

‘The Polish map of events could not do without the Miłosz Festival, which has made constant attempts to answer the most bothering questions of the modern human being,’ says Izabela Błaszczyk, the director of the Kraków Festival Office. ‘This year we will meet in July, and we strongly hope that we can safely talk face to face about poetry, but we are prepared for all scenarios.’

“Unattainable Earth”

During this year’s festival, we will look for a language to describe the vastness and elusiveness of the journey through life. The starting point will be Czesław Miłosz’s volume Unattainable Earth – the poet’s first book issued after the Nobel Prize, in which he seeks for a more spacious form of expression. “Unattainability” seems to symbolise the barriers that face the imagination of today’s “travellers of the world”,’ says Krzysztof Siwczyk, the artistic director of the Miłosz Festival. In the age of development of ecological awareness, at the difficult time of the pandemic and ideological demagogues, we can paradoxically benefit from the universal experience of the loss of social and political illusions and the disappearance of the sense of security caused by the overwhelming disintegration of nature and the established order of the world.’

Olga Brzezińska, the programme director of the Miłosz Festival, invites: ‘Strong voices of poets who have visited successive editions of the festival for 10 years create a diverse panorama of delights, doubts, ambivalences and rebellions that we should express towards the world undergoing transformation at a previously unknown pace in our eyes. This pace can be strange and specific to technology rather than human experience feeding upon the reflection on the quality of the reality that surrounds us. The Miłosz Festival has discussed and will discuss this quality – particularly now, in conditions of pandemic moods concerning the ways in which the world reorganises itself. Poetry has been and will be brave in its gestures of going beyond mental barriers that are responsible for the lack of imagination, so necessary to reinvent the world.’

Poetry is not able to save people or nations, but can save the meanings of words that more and more often become shallow and degraded. The task of poetry is to restore the proper order and its importance so that communication would be more effective and new imagination hidden in poetry would help the world to shake off doubts and uncertainty. During the Miłosz Festival, we will listen to voices of poets from Poland and the rest of the world, but we will also commemorate those who have left us. And, although they are no longer with us, the poetry that preserves the memory of our great poets remains.

Guests of the Miłosz Festival

Poems by Agi Mishol, Alice Oswald, Ivan Štrpka and Peter Gizzi are well known to participants of the Miłosz Festival, because books of these poets translated into Polish were published during last year’s festival.

Agi Mishol became the laureate of the Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Prize in 2019. She is the leading Israeli author. Amos Oz said that her words ‘can tell stories, sing or dance at the same time.’ Magdalena Kicińska, the poet and chief editor of the Pismo. Magazyn Opinii monthly, calls her manner of expression ‘the language of freedom’. Agi Mishol’s latest book was published by Wydawnictwo a5 under the title Jestem stąd [I’m From Here] (translation by Angelika Adamczyk, Justyna Radczyńska and Beata Tarnowska) last year.

Another poet who will meet Polish readers is Alice Oswald. Her debut book The Thing in the Gap Stone Stile (1996) was distinguished by the Forward Poetry Prize. She is the laureate of the T.S. Eliot Award and the prestigious Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize. Magda Heydel, who has translated Oswald’s poetry, including Memorial recently published in Poland as Monument. Wykopaliska z Iliady (Wydawnictwo Pogranicze), says about her works: ‘[Alice Oswald] looks for an answer to the question who and where we are, what we do with our existence and how we develop the place and time in which we exist.’

The American poet, essayist and lecturer Peter Gizzi is the author of eight poetry books, the winner of the Lavan Younger Poet Award and the holder of a number of scholarships, e.g., from The Rex Foundation and The Howard Foundation. Gizzi’s works are characterised by the non-standard use of language and surprising ideas for descriptions of prosaic scenes from human life. His works are a closed miniature in which we find fascinating details. We recommend his poetry book Threshold Songs, translated by Kacper Bartczak as Pieśni progowe and published in 2020 thanks to the co-operation between the Miłosz Festival, the Provincial Public Library and the Culture Animation Centre in Poznań.

Our another guest is Ivan Štrpka – a poet, writer, essayist, lyricist and translator of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese literature. He is often called one of the most outstanding modern Slovakian poets. He is the laureate of the most interesting literary prizes in Slovakia, and his books have been translated into Polish, German, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Serbian and Romanian. His book translated into Polish by Franciszek Nastulczyk as Ciemne miejsce [The Dark Place] is already available in Polish bookshops (the Rafał Wojaczek Mikołów Institute).

The OFF section of the Miłosz Festival will be honoured by the presence of Anthony Joseph, whom readers know from The African Origins of UFOs, translated by Teresa Tyszowiecka blasK! as Amerykańskie korzenie UFO. The artist from Trinidad is an award-winning poet and musician, the author of four poetry books and three prose books, and an academic lecturer. The meeting with Joseph is only one of many points of this year’s OFF section, which presents independent and experimental poetry.

The Wisława Szymborska Award

The Miłosz Festival is traditionally accompanied by a gala during which the Wisława Szymborska Award is granted to the best poetry books of 2019 and 2020. This year’s gala is held on the festival Saturday 10th July at 8:00 p.m. and can be watched on Wirtualna Polska and Play Kraków channels.

It is the first of our announcements of this year’s Miłosz Festival. Further poetic cards will be uncovered soon.

Co-financed by the Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport from the Culture Promotion Fund.

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