2021 – the year of Stanisław Lem!

One of the most eminent Polish prose writers, the most frequently translated Polish author and an outstanding resident of Krakow has just been honoured with the Act of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland declaring 2021 as the Year of Lem. There could be no better reason for Lem to become the literary patron of the coming year – on 12 September we will celebrate the centenary of the birth of the author of Solaris.

KBF – the cultural institution of the city of Krakow, operator of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature programme – together with Wydawnictwo Literackie and the Stanisław Lem Institute Poland of the Future Foundation, in March this year issued a letter to the Marshal of the Sejm, Elżbieta Witek, supporting the initiative to declare the Year of Lem. On the 27th November, with the adoption of the resolution announcing the Year of Lem by the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, these efforts were crowned with success. ‘This is the best way to celebrate next year’s anniversary, the centenary of Stanisław Lem’s birthday. We are glad that the most frequently translated Polish author, whose books have been published in 45 languages in millions of copies, will become a patron of not only those anniversary activities that we are planning here in Krakow – the Year of Lem announced today by the Polish Sejm will stimulate next year’s literary scene all over Poland’, commented Izabela Błaszczyk, Director of KBF. ‘I am pleased with the decision to declare the Year of Lem and I hope that it will be an opportunity for readers all over the world to have another close encounter with the works of the Master. I am also convinced that this meeting will turn into a long-lasting literary journey, whose hub station will be the opening of Planet Lem in Krakow’, says Wojciech Zemek, the writer’s long-standing secretary.

Krakow UNESCO City of Literature has been preparing for the Year of Stanislaw Lem for several years now. This is due to the activities undertaken to build Planet Lem and the annual celebration of the writer’s birthday. The Planet Lem Literature and Language Centre is the first investment of this kind in Poland – it is a combination of a multifunctional literary centre with modern exhibition space. The JEMS Architekci design studio has already prepared a multi-discipline concept for the future centre, and at the moment full architectural and construction documentation is being developed. Obtaining a building permit is planned  for the next year, which will allow for the commencement of the procedures for the award of works contracts. Until Planet Lem is established, the Potocki Palace will be the incubator of ideas for running the new literary centre, where from next year onwards the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature programme will be implemented.

The Krakow celebrations of Lem’s Year promise to be quite diverse. The main event will be the writer’s birthday, which in 2021 will take place on 12-14 September at the ICE Krakow Congress Centre. Stanisław Lem will also be the focus of numerous traditional events, from the Children’s Literature Festival to the Sacrum Profanum Festival. Lem himself and his work will find their place on the stages of theatres, as well as in musical works, at symposia and conferences planned for this particular year, and the context of the programme will be complemented by books, whose festive premieres are planned by Wydawnictwo Literackie.

All events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Stanisław Lem’s birthday will be compiled at a special website roklema.pl. It will also present announcements of new book editions and previously unpublished materials, as well as competitions with prizes. The roklema.pl website will become the best source of knowledge on how and where to celebrate the birthday of the Polish author – a great figure of 20th century literature. The website will be run by the lem.pl portal with the participation of partners implementing the Lem programmes, including Wydawnictwo Literackie, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the Stanisław Lem Institute for Poland of the Future and the KBF (Krakow Festival Office).

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