100 benches in Kraków’s Planty have their literary patrons. The City Codes Project began in April 2014 – with the creation of the benches of Czesław Miłosz, Wisława Szymborska, Ziemowit Szczerek, Graham Masterton, Jacek Dukaj, Jerzy Pilch, Joseph Conrad, Sławomir Mrożek, Stanisław Lem and Witold Gombrowicz. In October 2014, this group was, among others, enlarged with Herta Müller, Juan Gelman, Neil Gaiman, Szczepan Twardoch, Zośka Papużanka, Gaja Grzegorzewska, Wit Szostak, Bronisław Malinowski or Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska.
Next to the name a special QR code is placed on each plaque. After scanning it with a tablet or a smartphnone one can access the project website, and read there an excerpt from a text by a given author, listen to its recording in Polish and in English, and find the author’s biographical note. Additionally, the website offers an interactive map thanks to which one can easily find all literary benches, as well as the selected, most important literary addresses in Krakow.
Thanks to the archive recordings, the project will allow us to hear, among others, the voices of Wisława Szymborska, Czesław Miłosz, Adam Zagajewski, Ryszard Krynicki, Ewa Lipska, Julia Hartwig, or Ziemowit Szczerek. The participation of the literary circles of Krakow in the project is noteworthy, as some of the readers are singers, men of letters, editors, literary journalists and bloggers, or literary critics, including Grzegorz Turnau, Bronisław Maj, Piotr Mucharski, Zośka Papużanka, Jerzy Franczak, Szymon Kloska, Tomasz Pindel, Łukasz Wojtusik, Marcin Wilk, Łukasz Dębski, and even (going far beyond the borders of Krakow) Graham Masterton and Robert Hass (a distinguished American poet and translator of Czesław Miłosz’s works). The publishers who are the project partners have also made available to us some fragments of audiobooks and recordings featuring Marek Kondrat, Jerzy Trela, Borys Szyc or Maciej Stuhr.
In the October edition of the project there are more benches dedicated to women. A walk around Planty will make one discover, among others, the benches of Dagna Przybyszewska, Magdalena Samozwaniec, Zofia Nałkowska and Anna Świrszczyńska, prepared in collaboration with Women’s Space Foundation.
We also encourage you to follow the trail of foreign writers. The collaboration with Cervantes’s Institute, Goethe’s Institute and the French Institute made it possible to create materials about Herta Müller, Sylvie Germain, Juan Gelman and Eduardo Mendoza. The QR code on their benches will lead one to the fragments of their texts both in the original version and in Polish.
The purpose of the City Codes project consists in emphasizing in the public space the prestigious UNESCO City of Literature title which Krakow received on 21st October, 2013, as the first Slavonic city. In this way, the idea of literature penetrating into the city tissue is coming true. This was inspired by a similar project implemented in Reykjavik, one of the partner Creative Cities of Literature.
It would not be possible to implement such a complex project without the participation of a number of Friends and Partners. The most cordial thanks and words of appreciation for their invaluable help, enthusiasm and enormous commitment go to:
- the Publishers who provided us with the materials necessary for the project, such as text fragments, audio recording, authors’ photographs. They included: Wydawnictwo Literackie, a5, Ha!art, Znak, as well as Bona, Świat Książki, Rebis and Wydawnictwo Św.Stanisława BM, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Wydawnictwo MAG);
- the Students of the Philological Faculty at the Jagiellonian University (the Faculty of English Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Translation Studies and Intercultural Communication) who under the vigilant eye of their tutors masterly translated into English some fragments of very demanding literary texts;
- Radio Krakow, which made available for the purpose of the project some precious recordings from its archives,
- Stowarzyszenie Radiofonia for the assistance in recording texts.