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5. Festiwal Miłosza, fot. Tomasz Wiech
13 June
2016

In the poets’ footsteps

Stefan Hertmans walks around like a teacher, talking about Carpaccio’s painting, Adonis emanates calmness, and when Kuba Kornhauser received the statuette during the Wisława Szymborska Award Gala, he turned it in his hands several times, like he was carrying a crystal ball showing him the future. Take a closer look at the poets, as a lot of things can be seen in their steps, gestures and looks.

“Writing combines the musical and painting tradition in itself, as it uses both melody and image”, said Hertmans and he backed up his statement by not only reading, but also showing the Landscape According to Carpaccio. He also emphasised the immense influence of music on War and Turpentine, and on a side note the author also revealed that he is a jazz musician himself. Despite the saying that the nature is the mistress of all arts, Hertmans reversed it and said that the art is the mistress of all nature, as it provides a lens through which we can observe the world.

Would Adonis – author of the smallest festival publication, filled with powerful poems – agree with him? One of his poems says: “Poetry is a sin, religion is a gift / says the ancient Greek-Muslim tradition / and despite that the Arabs / demanded nothing from language as much / as poetry.

“The poem either defends itself or not”, said Hatif Janabi, host of the meeting and Arabic translator, announcing that Adonis was not going to talk about poetry. After a dynamic discussion about the significance of Miłosz for the young generation of poets, it was a really refreshing experience. The poems were given voice, and when they were read in two languages, silence fell in the room. However, the meeting did not go as planned, since the audience really wanted to talk with Adonis. At first, they asked about the poet’s attitude towards Submission by Michel Houellebecq and the author himself. Then Urszula Kozioł, who was among the audience, noted the extraordinary fact that the poet writes poetry in two languages – Arabic and French – which is a feat rarely accomplished by bilingual poems.

Breyten Breytenbach spoken about the opportunities and limitation of language, bringing us closer to the problems connected with using Afrikaans. According to him, it is a language that “came in from the back”. It was developed by a conquered people in order to be able to communicate with their conqueror – a language entangled in its history.

In her poems, Zuzanna Ginczanka speaks about other kinds of entanglements: “in the hermetic / like a steel thermos / peach wallpaper cubes / entangled in dresses to the neck / we conduct / cultural / discussions”. The History of Photography Museum, which hosts an exhibition devoted to the poet, was certainly full of cultural discussions.

The culmination of the entire day was the announcement of the Wisława Szymborska Award laureates. This year the prize was also awarded to an author of a volume of poetry in a foreign language. Uros Zupan and Jakub Kornhauser greeted each other on the stage with a strong handshake. What is more, the translators of Zupan’s poetry – Miłosz Biedrzycki and Katarina Salamum-Biedrzycka – also received the award. “It is a very important moment for Slovenian poetry in Poland”, the translator emphasised.

Congratulations to the winners, and don’t forget to come to a meeting with the laureates!