15 May 2013 The 3rd Miłosz Festival begins tomorrow in Krakow

Krakow has turned into The Land of Ulro right before our very eyes. Symbolically. And the reason is significant. Tomorrow (Thursday, the 16th of May), the 3rd Miłosz Festival will begin – an exceptional time for all who love poetry and the works by the author of The Issa Valley.

‘The Land of Ulro is one of the most important, if not the single most important – and additionally, a very personal – essayist book by Czesław Miłosz. For the author, it was an attempt to understand the situation in the world of literature of the second half of the 20th century and, more generally – the spiritual situation of a contemporary human. For the readers, it might be also a sort of a guide which will allow them to read works of literature that Miłosz believed to be important in a different, more profound way’ says Jerzy Illg, the Festival’s Programme Director.

Reading The Land of Urlo will be exceptional in the upcoming four days of the Festival’s 3rd edition. Krakow will host outstanding poets, writers, critics and scholars from eleven countries, including Argentina, the poet’s second home – the United States, and Russia, which was a subject of Miłosz’s many reflections.

At soirées, we will be able to meet the poet’s friends, colleagues, and people for whom Miłosz was simply the most important figure – through his works or activity. Janusz Szuber, Philip Levine, Martín López-Vega, Michael Krüger, Julia Hartwig, Juan Gelman, Duo Duo, Gary Snyder or Richard Lourie – for some of them it’s their first time in Krakow – will not only present their own works, but also talk about Miłosz, whom they knew or whose works they read and to which come back repeatedly.

What is important, the soirées will be accompanied by ten book premiers of the Festival’s guests. Masakra w El Mozote [The Masacre at El Mozote] by Mark Danner is a shocking reporter’s story about the civil war in Salvador. Wiersze wybrane [Selected poems] by Duo Duo remind us that poetry should sometimes be unhurried, contemplative and allusive. Wiersze wybrane [Selected poems] by Juan Gelman encourage us to enter into the world of one of the highest evaluated Spanish poets. Adam Zagajewski said that Michael Krüger’s poems Pejzaż z drzewem are made of silk. Wstręt do tulipanów [A Hatred for Tulips] by Richard Lourie is an attempt to face nightmares from the past. Gary Snyder, a poet, essayist, translator, ecologist and pacifist fascinated with Buddhism, will present his book Dlaczego kierowcy ciężarówek z drewnem wstają wcześniej niż adepci Zen [Why Log Truck Drivers Rise Earlier Than Students of Zen], in Miasto marzeń [The City of Dreams] Philip Levine shows us what rebellious poetry is, Tomaž Šalamun in Pora roku will reveal how words taste for a writer born in Croatia, Lew Rubinstein in Zdarzenie bez nazwy will prove – who knows?! – for which he received Andriej Biały Award (a symbolic ruble and a bottle of vodka), while Wiera Burłak, the author of Ręka do nogi, will bewitch us with the rhythm and sound of Belarusian poetry. Probably, in a literal way – also because Wiera Burłak is well known for extremely lively performances.

Core events devoted to the festival guests’ works, apart from soirées, include a series of poetry evenings. They will be help in the Malopolska Garden of Arts – where Festival Centre is also located – ad then at St. Anna’s collegiate church and Tempel Synagogue. Such diversity of venues is deliberate. The map of these sites is to subtly remind us about numerous sources of inspiration and spaces for activity: within the fields of civilization, culture and religion. Not only in Krakow.

Dialog is another important theme of the festival’s events. Zło [Evil] and Imperium [Empire] will be the subjects of two debates. Among others, Adam Zagajewski, Norman Davies and Adam Pomorski will take part in discussions about experience and literature.

Each day of the festival will begin with Inspekty poetyckie – workshops addressed to all literature lovers (on Saturday and Sunday – to the youngest ones), during which participants will approach works of, among others, Tomaž Šalamun and Rafał Wojaczek. Simultaneously, every day until Sunday, we will be able to see a kinetic typography of Wisława Szymborska’s poem Metafizyka [Metaphysics] at the corner of Miodowa and Jakuba streets. While tomorrow at Festival Centre, a special, four-day-long edition of  the Second Life of a Book campaign, a huge free of charge book exchange, will begin (details available at: drugiezycieksiazki.pl)

Events planned for the first day of the festival (Thursday, the 16th of May) at the Malopolska Garden of Arts (ul. Rajska 12) include not only the first poetry evening (with participation of Duo, Duo, Julia Hartwig and Gary Snyder), but also a discussion panel entitled Czesław Miłosz w Ziemi Ulro [Czesław Miłosz in the Land of Ulro] (in which Renata Gorczyńska and Anthony Miłosz will participate) and a pre-release screening of Magdalena Piekorz’s film Widok Krakowa, which is an attempt at showing the city marked with literature. On many levels. The role of guide is played by Adam Zagajewski, one of Czesław Miłosz’s close friends.

See a detailed programme of the festival.