Krakow, Gdańsk and Warsaw joined forces with the Literary Union Association and the Association of Literary Translators to jointly launch the Literary Residencies project. The literaryresidenciespoland.pl website is the first platform of its kind, fully devoted to creative residencies and fellowships for writers and translators. The project was inaugurated on the World Book and Copyright Day with a debate featuring Antonia Lloyd-Jones – translator of Olga Tokarczuk’s prose – and writer Jacek Dehnel.
Creative residencies for writers and translators are a long-standing and beautiful tradition in Europe – Martin Luther worked on his translation of the Bible while in hiding at the Wartburg Castle, the French Academy in Rome has been offering fellowships since the early 18th century, and Rainer Maria Rilke wrote his Duino Elegies as a guest of the eponymous Duino Castle. What did not change from the very beginning was offering residents a place, where they can work for a couple of weeks or months, fully focused on their work, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, all while being able to network – something that is crucial for authors of literature, who often have to deal with loneliness and solitude in their work.
A new destination for literary residencies
To celebrate the World Book and Copyright Day, we have launched the literaryresidenciespoland.pl website – the first platform of its kind dedicated to literary residencies, which came to be as a result of a joint initiative of the Krakow Festival Office – operator of the Krakow – UNESCO City of Literature Programme, Institute of Urban Culture in Gdańsk, and the Old Town Cultural Centre in Warsaw, undertaken jointly with the Literary Union Association and the Association of Literary Translators. This virtual database of information about open calls for proposals, previous fellowship holders, hosting institutions, as well as fellowship programmes for writers and translators in Poland and abroad is supplemented by the Literary residencies: open calls for writers and translators group on Facebook, which will be used to disseminate information about open calls for creative fellowships, as well as sharing experiences of stays at various destinations.
The kick-off of the project was accompanied by a debate entitled “Writing – but where?” What experiences do authors have with literary residencies? What are the outcomes of exposure and contact with other literary circles? How does the artist contribute to the cultural history in their destination? Participants of international residency projects – Belarusian poet Julia Cimafiejewa, translator of works by eminent contemporary Polish writers and reporters, including Stanisław Lem and Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones from the United Kingdom, as well as Aleš Šteger, Slovenian writer and poet – talked about literary residencies in Poland and abroad and how the atmosphere and the history of a given space impact the experience of creative work. The debate was moderated by translator Justyna Czechowska and writer Jacek Dehnel. You can watch the recording HERE.
Literary residencies in Poland
To date, numerous Polish writers and translators took advantage of the international residency offering. Some of the most prominent ones include Olga Tokarczuk, who wrote a significant part of her Books of Jacob in Graz, while her stay in the Swiss town of Zug inspired one of her Tales of the Bizarre; Anna Wasilewska translated Jan Potocki’s Saragossa Manuscript and Italo Calvino’s American Lessons abroad, while Magdalena Heydel translated Alice Oswald’s Monument in Visby – later, she reminisced: “The sense of detachment from mainland affairs, characteristic for the island, gave me the space I needed to focus on such an extensive poem.” In some cases, residencies inspire new works – Żanna Słoniowska wrote her Wyspa (The Island) due to her stay in Visby on the Swedish isle of Gotland, and Dorota Masłowska was inspired to write her Jesień w Szanghaju (Autumn in Shanghai) in similar circumstances.
An increasing number of Polish institutions offer stays, during which Polish and international writers and translators can live together, all while working and getting involved with the local circles, contributing to the local cultural history. As such, the residencies not only allow the audience to meet and encounter world-famous authors, but they also serve as a great promotion for cities and regions.
For many years now, Krakow has been extending its offering of literary residencies to authors and writers, initially mainly as part of international programmes addressed to authors from the UNESCO Cities of Literature network. With time, the residency offering started growing to include fellowships for winners of awards (such as Paszport Polityki and the Conrad Award), as well as local residencies. To date, Krakow welcomed dozens of fellows from all corners of the world, including Australia, Spain, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. In 2011, Krakow was the first city in Central and Eastern Europe to join the ICORN International Cities of Refuge Network, and currently hosts the ninth fellow to take advantage of the support – Angolan poet, performer and activist Aaiún Nin.
Gdańsk, Kraków and Warsaw decided to join forces with the Literary Union Association and the Association of Literary Translators to jointly offer a new fellowship programme, extending the offering of residencies with three new exceptional destinations – the Potocki Palace in the heart of Krakow – near its Main Market Square, a house right next to the Oliwa Park in Gdańsk, in the Oliwa district, which constitutes a key part of the literary landscape of the Tri-City, as well as on the borderline of the Old Town and Powiśle.
The first residency programme for translators, who translate literary works into the Polish language, organised by Krakow – UNESCO City of Literature, has already been launched. The offer is addressed to authors, who have at least one book translation published in print, and who are currently working on a translation project. In addition to accommodation and reimbursement of travel costs, participants will also receive a salary of 2,000 PLN gross. The objective of these residencies is to support translators by offering them the conditions that will enable them to focus on their translation work for 30 days. What is more, throughout the entire stay, the fellows can count on networking support provided by the Krakow – UNESCO City of Literature staff. The deadline for submitting applications is 4 May. You can find out more about the offer HERE.
The Old Town Cultural Centre in Warsaw has also opened a call for applications for its literary residency programme for translators and writers, opening its doors to visitors from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, who will get an opportunity to spend a couple of creative weeks in the heart of the city. The two open calls will result in a selection of at least five residents, who will be able to take part in 2-6 week stays organised in May-June and July-December. By organising its residencies, the OTCC wants to invite international writers and translators to become a part of Warsaw’s literary world, encouraging them to spend a couple of weeks in Warsaw and discover the local art scene, explore the history of the city and take advantage of its cultural offering. The residents can take advantage of an apartment in the heart of the city with a comfortable space for creative work, professional and logistical support, a grant of 840 PLN gross per week, all while getting involved in the institution’s everyday operations. The deadline for submitting applications is 7 May (first call) 30 June (second call). You can find out more about the residency HERE.
The Literary Residencies programme is carried out by the Krakow Festival Office – operator of the Krakow – UNESCO City of Literature programme, Institute of Urban Culture in Gdańsk, and the Old Town Cultural Centre in Warsaw within the framework of the partnership of three Polish cities – Krakow, Gdańsk and Warsaw. The activities within the programme are supported by two artists’ associations: the Literary Union Association and the Association of Literary Translators.