Wrocław Poetry Festival 17-19 April 2009

Last weekend, Wrocław-based publishing house Biuro Literackie held their fourteenth annual poetry festival, which is by far Poland’s most important poetry event. Over the course of the three days, more than thirty new books were presented, roughly forty poets participated in readings and discussions, and the program was accompanied by concerts, film screenings, and an exhibit of photographs. This was the sixth year that the festival was held in Wrocław; previously it took place in the town of Legnica.

Events included group readings by poets with books recently published by Biuro Literackie: Krystyna Miłobędzka, Sławomir Elsner, and Bohdan Zadura; Roman Honet, Marta Podgórnik, and Krzysztof Siwczyk; Krzysztof Jaworski, Bogusław Kierc, and Tadeusz Pióro; Julia Fiedorczuk, Jacek Gutorow, and Dariusz Sośnicki; as well as Piotr Sommer and Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki, whose reading on Sunday was the festival’s finale. Two Czech poets—Michal Ajvaz and Jáchym Topol—together with the Polish poet and translator Leszek Engelking, presented a new anthology of Czech poetry, Maść przeciw poezji (Liniment Against Poetry), which Engelking edited and translated. Julia Hartwig, Jacek Dehnel, and Jacek Gutorow presented three new books that they each had translated from English, by William Carlos Williams, Philip Larkin, and Wallace Stevens, respectively. And there was a presentation by the translators of three new books of prose as well: Maurice Blanchot’s Tomasz Mroczny/Szaleństwo Dnia (Thomas l’Oscure and La Folie du Jour), in one volume, translated by Anna Wasilewska and Andrzej Sosnowski; a collection of stories by Ronald Firbank under the title Studium temperamentu (A Study in Temperament), translated by Grzegorz Jańkowicz and Andrzej Sosnowski; and Raymond Roussel’s unfinished and posthumously discovered novel Dokumenty mające służyć za kanwę (Documents pour servir de canevas), translated by Andrzej Sosnowski. Critics Dariusz Nowacki, Marian Stala, Piotr Śliwiński, and Justyna Sobolewska spoke on a panel about the so-called “barbarzyńcy” or “bruLion generation” twenty years after. Associated with the Festival was the City of Wrocław’s ceremony for its recently established Silesius Prize (which went to Stanisław Barańczak). And the Festival was kicked off with readings by Wrocław elementary and high school students who had taken part in the Biuro Literackie’s “Szkoła z poezją” (Poetry School) project.

The full program can be viewed here.

Biuro Literackie’s website (http://www.biuroliterackie.pl) is a great resource for anyone who is interested in contemporary Polish poetry (and can read Polish!) Actually, even if you don’t know Polish and just want to see who are some of the influential and up-and-coming names on the poetry scene in Poland today, it’s worth having a look.

They also have a YouTube site (http://tr.youtube.com/user/biuroliterackie), and have so far posted about 80 different videos, mostly of readings by individual poets or translators, or of meetings with poets. Like this one with Tadeusz Różewicz:

Or this one with Piotr Sommer:

But there are also videos of poems, evidently a new project (I think some of these were premiered at the festival as well), like this one of Julia Fiedorczuk’s poem “Tlen” (Oxygen):

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