56000 e-books downloaded by the participants of Read.PL campaign, 19 editions of the Second Life of a Book, successful literary festivals, dozens of hours of hard work during the UNESCO Creative Writing Course and over 200 events in book stores, organised as part of the first edition of the municipal readership support programme. 2016 – the fourth year with the UNESCO City of Literature title – proved how important are the activities planned years in advance by Krakow Festival Office in close cooperation with literary scene. The electronic version of the report is available at www.raport.miastoliteratury.pl.
The literary season was inaugurated in a symbolic way during an open-air book sale on Pl. Św. Marii Magdaleny, which attracted crowds of literature lovers. At the same time, the Internet users could stumble upon our #TLDRxP campaign, transforming the popular slogan “Too Long, Didn’t Read” into “This Literature Deserves Reading. By doing so together with a group of campaign supporters, including Krystyna Janda, AKURAT and Bartek Chaciński we declared war against not reading being a fashion statement.
Yet again, the monthly literary walks and the Second Life of a Book exchanges enjoyed great popularity among the readers. The August edition of the book exchange at MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow saw over 600 visitors and participants! In February, Krakow adopted the municipal strategy for developing literary life and readership. The resolution, adopted by the city councillors empowered the Mayor to secure funds in the existing cultural budget for activities aimed at developing readership culture and strengthening the activities of literary circles. The document also comprises a strategy of library modernisation, development of grants and scholarships for writers, support for literary festivals, as well as programmes for local publishers and independent book stores. We also welcomed Félix Kaputu – our new beneficiary of the ICORN Cities of Refuge Network – to the capital of Małopolska.
During the last year’s Miłosz Festival – widely considered to be the largest poetry event in Poland – the most important Polish poetrty award, the Wisława Szymborska Award was handed out. Among the guests of the festival was the Syrian poet Adonis, considered to be one of the contenders for the Nobel Prize, as well as Stefan Hertmans, author of the famous War and Turpentine. During the festival, we also saw another edition of the Children Literature Festival in Krakow, which – as always – attracted crowds of the youngest readers, who participated in many meetings, shows and workshops. At the turn of spring and summer, we experienced a true culmination of poetry with the Poetry Night taking place right then.
Supporting novice writers is among the most important elements of literary education programme, implemented as part of the UNESCO City of Literature. The especially rich and diverse programme of the Creative Writing Courses organised by Krakow UNESCO City of Literature covered a Mystery Book Writing Course spanning six months, featuring the leading authors of the genre – Katarzyna Bonda, Mariusz Czubaj – as well as numerous valued industry experts. We also saw many workshops devoted to selected issues, such as a series of three meetings with authors of literary portraits of the Kazimierz district as part of the O_KAZ project, carried out together with Cheder café. For the second time we were also present at the Jewish Culture Festival with a special literary programme. Additionally, last year we created a programme for supporting cultural activities at book stores, thus also creating the first competition in Poland for foundations and associations planning to organise literary events in brick and mortar book stores.
Autumn started with a celebration of the 95th birthday of Stanisław Lem – the most popular Polish writer of all times, who spent his entire adult life connected to Krakow. In September and October we carried on with a series of open-air book sales, significantly complementing their programmes with educational events. Thanks to the “Shelves with Culture” campaign we were also present in 17 hospitals and social care agencies, where we installed our shelves with newly released books.
The key element of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature programme is the Conrad Festival, the 8th edition of which attracted over 100 guests from all over the world to Krakow. The newly opened space for culture in Czeczotka House was filled with the sound of over a dozen languages from all over the world. Among the writers and authors who met with their readers were the Booker Prize laureates – Richard Flanagan and Eleanor Catton, Andrzej Stasiuk and Mikołaj Trzaska, Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours and the star of the Academy Award-winning Son of Saul, Géza Röhrig. The festival was concluded by the second Conrad Award Gala, during which we handed out the prize for the literary debut of the year. By the decision of the readers and guests of the Festival, the statuette went to Żanna Słoniowska for Dom z witrażem.
2016 ended with second edition of Read.PL campaign – the largest campaign for promoting readership in Poland. This year we were present in 16 cities in Poland. Read.PL is one of the most innovative campaigns, combining literature with new technologies, inspiring numerous similar initiatives. The ever-expanding character of the campaign, as well as widely welcomed initiatives such as “Reader Friendly Employer” show that positive example in our immediate environment is the best way to encourage reading.
This year will be marked by great literary events – the year of Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski, the year of the Krakow Avant-Garde and the year of Stanisław Wyspiański. We will inform about the details soon.
We also prepared an electronic version of this report, available at www.raport.miastoliteratury.pl. Feel free to visit, read, remember and plan another great literary year in Krakow with us!