The 4th Miłosz Festival

The 4th Miłosz Festival kicks off on May 14th. The 2015 edition of this great poetry festival will run under the theme A Book of Luminous Things. This is the English title of the famous anthology published by Czesław Miłosz in the United States in 1996. This year unique poetic insight will be provided by twenty poets from Poland and abroad during a rich and varied program of debates, panels, concerts and exhibitions. The Festival, in addition to its main program, will also involve two additional and coinciding events: a literary program for children Miłoszek and a series focused on Japanese culture and Haiku. The festival will end on May 17.

We’re ready to reveal the first confirmed guests of the Festival! First up, Robert Hass, winner of numerous literary awards and co-translator of the American edition of the Czesław Miłosz’s anthology A Book of Luminous Things. Next, Ruth Padel, great-great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, a British poet, journalist involved in the defense of animal rights and professor of literature at Oxford University. Julia Fiedorczuk will join Padel and Hass. She is a poet, novelist, literary critic and translator. Last but not least (for now!), Wojciech Bonowicz, the poet and journalist, winner of the Gdynia Literary Award in 2007, will also be a guest of honor during this year’s edition.

The Miłosz Festival is one of the city’s most important events, indicating the significance of poetry in the cultural landscape of Krakow. At the same time, it is the most important international poetry event in Poland, which stems from the tradition of Poets of the East and West – organized under the auspices of both Nobel Prize winners Wislawa Szymborska and Czeslaw Milosz years ago, says Director of the Krakow Festival Office Izabela Helbin.

The Festival is organized by the Krakow Festival Office and the City of Literature Foundation, and the program is created jointly with the participation of the Festival’s Board, which is composed of: Krzysztof Czyżewski, Magdalena Heydel, Jerzy Illg, Jerzy Jarniewicz, Zofia Król, Mark Radziwon, Tomasz Różycki and Abel Murcia Soriano. The high quality of the program is carefully monitored by the Honorary Committee, consisting of: Aleksander Fiut, Julia Hartwig, Robert Hass, Ryszard Krynicki, Anthony Miłosz, Adam Pomorski, Aleksander Schenker, Tomas Venclova and Adam Zagajewski.

In this way, the edition’s theme and program take into account the most interesting phenomena in poetry through creative conversation and mutual inspiration. Outstanding representatives of the literary world and the young generation of artists, translators and literary critics sent in their proposals for the Festival. The result is a rich, conceptually coherent and open to a wide audience program composed of several dozen events.

This year, the fourth edition of the Festival is inspired by Miłosz’s personal anthology of world poetry, says the President of the Foundation City of Literature, Olga Brzezińska, co-organizer of the Festival. By presenting the work of the invited guests, in a way, we add to this anthology of new works. We pose an important question about the place of poetry in the modern world and, as Miłosz wrote, we remind people that poetry can still be very helpful to the reader in understanding reality in all its complexity and richness.

Invited speakers represent a variety of cultural and linguistic circles, aesthetics, and worldviews. Importantly, visiting foreign guests will be translated anew and editions of poetry collections will be prepared by leading Polish publishers of poetry. In this way, the Festival prepares the audience for the Festival events and exploration of the themes and ideas proposed by the writers from abroad. Releasing these publication outside of the context of the Festival would certainly be difficult, and so it contributes greatly to new works being discovered by the Polish audience.

As a child, I did not think that I would be a poet, because it was decided that I would become a naturalist – Miłoszonce wrote. This is a wonderful context for the announcement of our first four guests. The list of poets coming to the Festival opens with Robert Hass from San Francisco: a virtuoso in his own right and eco-writer, a graduate of Stanford University. Years ago Miłosz’s neighbor in Berkley and translator of his poetry into English. Robert Hass is also a well-known translator of the Japanese haiku masters. In the mid-nineties, he founded an association called River of Words promoting the idea of eco-literature. He is the winner of the National Book Award (2007) and Pulitzer Prize (2008). By 2014, he received the prestigious Wallace Stevens Award.

Participants will also meet with Ruth Padel, great-great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, the British poet, journalist, and activist. Padel for years engaged in efforts to protect wildlife and animal rights. Since 2009 she has been a professor of literature at Oxford University. Her most recognized book called The Mara Crossing combines poetry and prose and takes on the subject of the migration of animals and humans. The poet has won the UK National Poetry Competition and the Cholmondoley prize awarded by the British Society of Authors.

Award-winning Polish poet Julia Fiedorczuk will also meet with audiences. Winner of the Polish Association of Book Publishers for her poetic debut November on the Narew (2000) and the Hubert Burda Prize for Poetry, which appeared in the Austrian magazine Manuskripte. She is a lecturer on literary theory as well as American literature at the University of Warsaw. She is the author of five volumes of poetry, two collections of short stories and many translations.

Another special guest of the Festival will be poet, essayist and journalist Wojciech Bonowicz. He made his debut with the volume Majority Rules, and in 2007 he received the Gdynia Literary Award for his volume The High Seas. He graduated from the Polish Studies department at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where he lives today. What are the characteristics of his poetry? He aptly described it in an interview: I try to make words in my poems sigh. Therefore, the language of his poetry is more economical. In 2014, he was nominated for the Wisława Szymborska Poetry Award.

The Miłosz Festival aims to integrate the literary community and relies on its cooperation with important partners in the world of literature. This year, these include the Wisława Szymborska Foundation and the Zbigniew Herbert Foundation. The Festival also includes two main thematic events that complement the Festival. The program will be linked to events centering on Haiku and organized by the Center for Japanese Art and Technology Manggha for the Haiku International Conference (15-17 May 2015), which will attract professionals to Krakow from several countries who specialize in this field. Moreover, we can’t forget about our youngest fans of poetry and have dedicated events to children under the banner of Miłoszek (10-16 May), prepared jointly with the Festival of Children’s Literature.

More of the program and special guests will be announced very soon.

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