Ha!Art’s Ecopoetry Festival

The relatively new, progressive publishing house Korporacja Ha!Art in Kraków just announced their Festiwal Ekopoezji, which is taking place in four Polish cities between March 11th and 14th in conjunction with the Book Institute’s 5th annual Pora Poezji (Season of Poetry) festival. The ecopoetry festival will feature readings and discussions with poets Julia Fiedorczuk, Bartłomiej Majzel, Edward Pasewicz, Jacek Podsiadło, and Adam Wiedemann; critics Grzegorz Czemiel, Jacek Gutorow, Joanna Orska, and Piotr Śliwiński; and Ha!Art editors Grzegorz Jankowicz and Karolina Więckowska. Grzegorz Jankowicz, who is also a critic and literary scholar affiliated with the Jagiellonian University, will moderate each evening in a different location: Warsaw, Poznań, Wrocław, and Kraków.

This festival, which is the first time I’ve heard of ecopoetics in a Polish context, appears to mark a point of common concern with Anglophone poets and critics like Jonathan Skinner (whose journal Ecopoetics in large measure focused the discourse), Juliana Spahr, Jane Sprague, Christopher Arigo, and Evelyn Reilly. It would be great to get a report from the festival. In the mean time, here is a hasty translation of Ha!Art’s press release:

Is there such a thing as ecopoetry? If so, are there literary phenomena in Poland that can be described by this term? In what does the relation between ecology and poetry (and literature as a whole) consist? Answers to these questions will be ventured by ecocriticism.

We are interested in the relationship between poetic texts, which in the Polish literary tradition fulfill very specific functions in the cultural field, and the natural environment, which is very clearly becoming an unavoidable element in discussions on the shape of our future society.

Ecocriticism is a mode of reading that foregrounds the question of relations between human beings and between human beings and their natural environment. Like feminist criticism and postcolonial theory, ecocriticism takes issue with formalism, which understands the text as an autonomous aesthetic work divested of any relation to extratextual reality. In contrast to the schools of thought that have dominated literary studies since the 1970s (new historicism, deconstruction, cultural critique), ecocritics do not consider nature to be a discursive construction; but that is by no means to say that they view the concept of nature as a priori given and transparent. Ecocriticism problematizes that concept, uncovering its historical and ideological implications, while at the same time defending the reality of that which, for lack of a better term, we call “nature” or “the natural environment” or simply the environment.

Ecological criticism has very slowly made its way to Poland. Yet this critical perspective allows us to re-read not only canonical texts (e.g. Romantic poetry or the work of Stanisław Lem), but contemporary writing as well. What do young poets think of the traditional pastoral model of the lyric? How do Polish writers narrate the landscapes, seasons, and flora and fauna characteristic of our bioregion? How do Polish prose writers and poets see the city; what vision of technological development can we read in their work? And above all, why today—in an age of global ecological crisis and the increasingly evident crisis of capitalism—should we be posing questions in the cultural field about the relationship of literature and nature? What model of thinking about nature and acting in its interests does Polish literature—in both its most recent and much older manifestations—give rise to? These are just some of the questions we would like to address in the course of the Ekopoezja Festival.

The original can be found on Korporacja Ha!Art’s website: http://www.haart.pl.

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