Polish Literature on the Offensive

The second day of the Book Fair at the Polish stand was devoted to meetings with nearly 30 guests from Poland, France, Belgium, Ukraine and Italy. As part of the Polish presentation at Salon du livre, we held meetings with authors, including, Mariusz Szczygieł, Krzysztof Varga, Norman Davies, Yuri Andrukhovych, Daniel Beauvois, Philippe Trétiackiem, Patrick Gaumerem, Grzegorz Rosiński, among others. Both the Polish bookstore and the book signings enjoyed great popularity, with long queues of readers lined up for autographs from Grzegorz Rosinski, Wojciech Tochman and Yuri Andrukhovych. The Polish stand was also visited by the President of the French Republic François Hollande, who met with representatives of the Polish cities. He accepted a gift of Polish books, including Szymborska’s Collages issued by the Krakow based MOCAK, as well as the French translation of Andrew Bobkowski’s travelogue.

Meeting with Polish photojournalists: Mariusz Szczygieł and Wojciech Tochman attracted crowds of readers. It is no secret that the French do appreciate non-fiction. While discussing the secrets of the craft of a reporter, the authors pointed out the responsibility of the creator of his word. Literature does not exist without the detail – said Wojciech Tochman asked about how much detail should be in good reportage. When is a detail, the case does not require additional comment – he added. Much space is devoted to the most important creators of the genre: Ryszard Kapuscinski and Hanna Krall. About Jerzy Grotowski talked Georges Banu, Erik Veaux and Louis Flaszen, the most prominent expert on experimental theater makers associated with Wroclaw and his longtime collaborator. Joanna Olech and Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod talked about the heroes of his childhood, including writer betrayed why was the author of fairy tales for children. Getting ready for the profession illustrator and ordained a case that I was invited to do a comic book – she said. What is the way to success Joanna Olech? Do not flatter tastes of young readers – explained – the book that I write primarily have to please myself. That’s why they are authentic. It happens to me, however, that changing them after reviews of my own children – writer admitted, adding that he never knows how to finish the book. Just start writing, first goes hard, but then the characters take on a life of its own.

The surrealism of everyday life and Wislawa Szymborska talked Masha Potocki, Magdalena Sroka and Michael Rusinek in a meeting with Christiane Louis. French audience is presented primarily issued by the Krakow MOCAK Collages Nobel Prize winner.

Collages poets are well received by the French public. Not only as an original, autonomous form of artistic expression, which in private correspondence migrated en masse to the gallery almost all over the world, but also as a key to her poetry. Find them because these may be the same or similar clues, traces, threads, which in rows. Ironic, surreal, minimalist, streaked philosophy professed by poet and realized both in a serious literary, so. frivolous works and collages just.

For the French audience that does not know well Szymborska’s poetry – a great starting point for the promotion of her translations – said Michał Rusinek, President of the Foundation Wislawa Szymborska.

The authors drew attention to the responsibility of the writer. Literature does not exist without details, said Wojciech Tochman, who was asked about how many details should be contained in a quality reportage. When there are details, the work does not require additional comment, he added. A lot of discussion was devoted to the writers Ryszard Kapuściński and Hanna Krall. Jerzy Grotowski was the subject of conversation for Georges Banu, Erik Veaux and Ludwik Flaszen; Grotowski was one of the most eminent experimental theater creators from Wrocław and his long-time co-worker. Joanna Olech and Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod discussed their childhood heros. The author told audiences why she became an author of children’s books. I started out as an ilustrator and fate brought me to comic books, she said. What is Joanna Olech’s secret to success? I tried not to cater to the tastes of young readers, she clarified, books that I write are ones that first and foremost I enjoy myself. That is why they are so authentic.

It happens from time to time, however, that I change them after the reviews of my own children, the author admitted, adding that she never knows how a book will finish. I just start writing, at first it’s a bit hard, but then the characters take on a life of their own.

Masha Potocka, Magdalena Sroka and Michael Rusinek talked about every day surrealism and Wisława Szymborska in a meeting with Christiane Louis. French audiences were introduced to the collages of the Noble Prize winner, published mainly by Krakow MOCAK.

The poet’s collages are well received by the French public. Not only as an original, autonomous form of artistic expression, which migrated en masse to galleries almost all over the world from collections of private correspondence, but also as a key to her poetry. We may find in them clues, trends, threads of logic similar to those in her poems. Ironic, surreal, minimalistic, and reflecting the poet’s personal philosophies that she included both in her serious works as well as personal collages.

For those who may not know Szymborska’s poetry well, this is a great introduction into her world and the promotion of her work in translation, said Michał Rusinek, President of the Wislawa Szymborska Foundation.

The President of Wrocław Rafał Dutkiewicz and British historian Norman Davies discussed the monumental work by the Brit on the multicultural history of Wrocław Microcosmos which was translated in 2013 into French. During the meeting, the speakers underscored the universal history of Wrocław, as its story is not just the story of one city or nation, but rather a multifaceted one exemplified, at the very least, by the various names the city has held over the past centuries.

Absent Europe”  was the title of the discussion involving Yuri Andrukhovych, Daniel Beauvois and Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki. Daniel Beauvois, French historian, writer, author of numerous articles and translator, highlighted the significance of Krakow and Wrocław’s participation at the Fair in Paris. Kraków and Wrocław are living archives of the history of Central Europe, he stated. They draw France’s attention to our part of the continent, which France sometimes did not want to see. He considered the difficult history of Poland, drawing analogies to the present situation in Ukraine: Poland, which for a long time did not know freedom, like Ukraine, which has not known it ever, know very well what I wish to say. “Absent Europe” is the Europe which does not speak up and stays silent in a time when Ukraine has been left abandoned and alone, stated the writer. Nawiązał tym samym do trudnej polskiej przeszłości, wskazując analogie do historii współczesnej Ukrainy: Zarówno Polska, która przez długi czas nie znała wolności, jak i Ukraina, która jej nie zna wcale, wiedzą dobrze co chcę powiedzieć. „Europa nieobecna” to przede wszystkim Europa milcząca w sytuacji, w jakiej znajduje się osamotniona i porzucona Ukraina – stwierdził pisarz. Yuri Andrukhovychand Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki agreed. The satisfied West prefers to talk about subjects more pleasant than Ukraine. The West has abandoned this country. This is the worst kind of war. We don’t know when it will end.The strong and emotional conversation touched on the responsibility of the West in this matter.

Comic book fans met with a really legend! Author of „Thorgal”, “Yans”, “Sioban” i “Szninkiel” Grzegorz Rosiński caused quite the stir. During a meeting titled “Is Thorgal a Pole”, the biographer of the famous ilustrator, Patrick Gaumer, asked about the meeting with Jerzy Kosiński, during which Rosiński was supposed to draw a sketch of Thorgal with the Alps in the background. It was the first drawing of Rosiński’s that Kosiński ever saw. The two speakers discussed cooperation with the Belge Jean Van Hamm, and sending to Belgium ready-made drawings via the Ministry of Culture and Arts as well as the fact that the package was blocked after the imposition of martial law. The series is highly popular nowadays, which was confirmed by the long lines for a special dedication and sigining from the author. Rosiński and Gaumer talked about the difference between American, Japanese and European comics. The special aspect that makes Thorgal stand out, according to its creator, is its literary quality. European comics are like stories, which we may compare to the histories written down in books.

One of the important events of the second day of the Fair was the visit of the President of the French Republic to the Polish stand, which was commented on by important television and media outlets in France. During the meeting, Deputy Mayor of Krakow Magdalena Sroka and the Polish Ambassador in France Andrzej Byrt invited François Hollande to Krakowa, who declared that he would gladly visited the capital of Małopolska. Hollande spoke with the delegation from the Polish cities. He accepted copies ofWisława Szymborska’s Collages as well as Z dziennika podróży by Andrzej Bobkowski, translated by Laurence Dyèvreand published by Noir sur Blanc.

The visit of the Head of State of France is evidence of the strong interest in Poland, said Grzegorz Gauden,Director of the Polish Book Institute. It accentuated the strength and seriousness of the signed declaration concerning the promotion of reading and literature by the Ministers of Culture and underlined the significance of ambitious cultural politics that support the book market.