- June 7, 2013
20th international poetry festival not over until September
The international poetry festival, always exciting and filled with interesting meetings, is going to be held not only in Vilnius as it used to be during the last twenty years. It nonetheless does not make history. It is not over yet; it will last until September. Its name lengthened by the name of another river that is very close to Polish people – the Vistula.
From now on the international poetry festival is to be associated with the cities of Warsaw and Vilnius and to go by the name of “May upon the Neris and the Vistula” based on the decision of the organisers. It is a great novelty for the reading and, especially, writing audience. What it is to be like only time will tell. Today we venture to offer a brief resume of the part of the event held in Vilnius and present at least a few lines from poems written by foreign poets, especially the Polish ones.
Our editing staff has just received a letter of thanks addressed to the participants and sympathisers of this year’s “May upon the Neris.” The letter reads: “Having taken a break, both you and I can take a calm and distanced look at our meetings in Vilnius. I think that we have together managed to create a friendly and wonderful Republic of Poets, Artists, and their Friends, for which I would like to thank you all (…).
I am grateful for hearing from you. I am glad that the new inspiration, translations of poetry, and pieces of verse are the aftermath of those meetings. The Facebook page devoted to the festival has been created on the initiative of Bożena Intrator (my best regards for you, Bożena!). Some material has appeared in the media (…). Thank you, Editors! Let’s keep good memories about the festival. On behalf of the organisers of the Vilnius part of the festival, Romuald Mieczkowski.”
People sometimes say that poets are prophets of their societies and express what the societies live. One can, but does not have to, agree with that, however, one thing is certain: they bring culture and the beauty of their mother tongue to the people, as well as transmit values which we do not notice in our everyday lives. Their words evoke positive emotions and help others to understand a lot of things. It is good to see how many people have taken part in the festival during the last twenty years: 400 men of letters, cultural activists, scientists, musicians, and theatre artists from 23 countries. The magical city of Vilnius attracts artists!
The record holders at participation in the event are many famous people both from Poland and Lithuania, such as Romuald Karaś, a great friend of Vilnius poets and the publisher of their first little volumes of poetry (publishing house “Pod Wiatr”), who has already taken part in the festival 11 times.
Józef Pless is a poet, prose writer, and publicist, who has lived in a German city of Lübeck since 1990, where he runs a musical and poetry salon that popularises Polish culture, and himself translates Polish poetry into German. This year he has taken part in the festival for the ninth time in his lifetime. Not so long ago in Warsaw he published an interesting book about autobiographical notes titled “Jaki tam ze mnie Volkswagen” (literally, “I’m not much of a Volkswagen”), in which he reminisces about the city of Vilnius.
Barbara Gruszka-Zych is a poet, publicist, journalist at the Polish weekly Gość Niedzielny in Cracow, an author of many collections of poems and a famous book about Czesław Miłosz (“Mój poeta”/”My poet”), and a laureate of a lot of poetry competitions. In 2011 she was awarded a bronze medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis. This year she has taken part in the festival for the eighth time. In 2006 she took part in the Lithuanian Spring of Poetry in Kaunas, during which the Polish-Lithuanian volume of poetry “Nemunas – Nemen,” which contains her poems, was recognised as the best foreign book. It is impossible to list all celebrities here, but let me mention also Barbara and Janusz Pieczuro – a married couple from the USA, who have made a significant contribution to the foundation of a hospice in Vilnius and the purchase of necessary equipment and appliances. They love poetry and the city of Vilnius. That is why they came to the festival.
Other Vilnius writers who every year take part in the festival are: Wojciech Piotrowicz, Aleksander Sokołowski, Aleksander Śnieżko, Józef Szostakowski, Zbiegniew Maciejewski, Irena Duchowska, Regina Pszczołowska, Teresa Markiewicz, Marzena Mackojć, Dariusz Kaplewski, Eleonora Pawłowska, Alina Lassota, and Jan Kozicz, to name a few. Lithuanian poets also participate in the festival. Most of the participants of the May event visit them in the Palace of the Ogiński family, which serves as the office of the Lithuanian Writers’ Association.
The guests from Poland profusely thanked Wojciech Piotrowicz, who took the role of a guide during their sightseeing and literary tour along the route Vilnius-Shumsk-Miedniki and who, during the conference held in the Palace of the Pac family – the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, delivered an interesting speech, mentioning rather unknown facts about the January Uprising. Credit was given also to Józef Szostakowski for his interesting paper devoted to the Lithuanian coryphaeus of literature, Kristian Donilaitis, whose jubilee – the 300th anniversary of his birth – Lithuania is celebrating this year. The people were delighted at the trip to the manor in Borejkowszczyzna that used to belong to Władysław Syrokomla, during which Józef Szostakowski talked about his life and creative activity as a country lyrist, sharing interesting pieces of information about his likings, trips, and somewhat tough everyday living.
Then, against the scenery of Borejkowszczyzna at spring, an evening picnic was held. Luba Nazarenko made an appearance. She sang old and present-day Polish songs with the lyrics of Vilnius poets as well as Russian romances. They evoked so many positive emotions that the people present felt like singing, dancing, and reciting poems. The aura of this pleasant literary nest of the Vilnius Region is amazing.
Tłumaczenie by Elwira Łykus w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Elwira Łykus within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.