10 November 2010 After the Conrad Festival – a special supplement in Tygodnik Powszechny

The latest issue of Tygodnik Powszechny contains a special supplement in which directors and originators of the Conrad Festival of Literature, editors of Tygodnik Powszechny – Michał Paweł Markowski and Piotr Mucharski, summarise: “Disputes went on among other worlds and other languages during the 2nd Joseph Conrad International Festival of Literature, which has just come to an end. 80 guests from Poland and abroad (from India to the United States), over 8,000 listeners and spectators at festival events and, in addition, guests of festival exhibitions. Concerts, film shows, performances, meetings with authors and debates… “We hope that this week has whetted your passion for reading and your appetite for great literature. All of us are tales. I am what I tell about myself” – said our guest, the American writer Rabih Alameddine, during his author’s evening. During the Festival its participants and listeners spun their multithreaded tale, sharing it to one another and expanding the world of their experiences, feelings and reflections”.

Even though it is only the second edition of the Festival, it has already become a recognisable brand and symbol of a big international literature event. Krakow was visited by nearly 100 writers, reportage authors, translators, documentary film-makers, including many prominent names of great international literature, such as Rabih Allamedine, Yuri Andrukhovych, Lisa Appignanesi, Aleš Debeljak, Mattias Göritz, Jean Hatzfeld, László Krasznahorkai, Claude Lanzmann, Sven Lindqvist, Dacia Maraini, Walter Benn Michaels, Herta Müller – last year’s winner of the Nobel prize, Marjane Satrapi, Żadan Serhij, Ashok Vajpeyi and a number of leading Polish artists, including Mirosław Bałka, Joanna Bator, Przemysław Czapliński, Jacek Dukaj, Magdalena Heydel, Inga Iwasiów, Ryszard Krynicki, Ewa Kuryluk, Krystian Lupa, Marian Pankowski, Tadeusz Słobodzianek, Piotr Sommer, Andrzej Stasiuk, Piotr Śliwiński, Mikołaj Trzaska, Bożena Umińska-Keff.

The latest issue of Tygodnik Powszechny includes an extensive interview given by Marjane Satrapi – the author of Persepolis and one of the participants of the Festival – to Grzegorz Jankowicz, where she says: “In my tale of return I did not want to talk about love, so I put this event somewhere else. And it is by no means less true because of that. When you talk about the death of friends, the truth of your feelings is the most important. And this truth was the most important for me, because I did not want to create a document about my life”.

The evening with Piotr Sommer’s poetry is described by Grzegorz Jankowicz: “The poet who had received the most prestigious poetic award in Poland (Silesius) a few months ago read his poems for almost an hour in the Galicja Museum. One of the sketches written by Piotr Śliwiński about the author of Dni i noce (Days And Nights) is entitled “Sommerland”. In this way, Śliwiński suggests that Sommer’s poetry is an incredible territory of language whose geography cannot be presented by means of a two-dimensional map due to the exceptional diversity of tones, rhythms and registers of this poetry”.

Nasza klasa (Our Class), a drama by Tadeusz Słobodzianek which won the Nike award, was staged in Krakow at the invitation of the Festival. Marcin Kościelniak writes: “By means of traditional folk rhymes, poems and religious songs and allusions to various artists (from Mickiewicz to Kantor), Nasza klasa by Tadeusz Słobodzianek refers to the phantasm of the national community. In this case, clear and transparent psychological drawings, behaviours and motivations of protagonists are always a splinter of something larger on a supraindividual level”.

The meetings “Historie rodzinne” (Family Stories) and “Atlas kobiet” (The Atlas Of Women) were attended by Katarzyna Kubisiowska: “Two “feminine” meetings. But they were “feminine” only due to the fact of inviting female writers, poets and publicist to a discussion. Women rarely have opportunities to hold a public debate; most often we have to watch men with wise expressions. If there are any women among them, they act more often as moderators than experts. Besides, “feminine” means brave and independent, not fragile and submissive (this stereotype was deconstructed in Western reality a long time ago)”.

In the latest issue of Tygodnik Powszechny you can also read: accounts of meetings with Herta Müller and Rabih Alameddine, a summary of the debate about the taboo problem, the calendar of festival events, Paul Celan’s poem translated and commented upon by Ryszard Krynicki and Claude Lanzmann’s article about Shoah.