• May 30, 2016
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“May on the Neris”: For Those Who Can Appreciate Multiculturalism

Several dozen authors from Poland, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, Switzerland, Mexico, and the USA take part in the 23rd International Poetry Festival “May on the Neris,” the official inauguration of which took place today by the monument of Adam Mickiewicz. This year’s edition of the poetic meetings is dedicated to Henryk Sienkiewicz.

“The word is here the basic hero, but the word seen in a broader context. That’s why poets from Poland are among us – to promote the Polish culture. There are also poets from other countries, who maybe don’t write in Polish and even don’t know the Polish language, but have a great respect for the Polish culture. What’s the important element here is the participation of local authors, as well as those living abroad – of Polish diaspora but not only – who can appreciate the values which multiculturalism and observation of other cultures give,” Romuald Mieczkowski, Festival Director and a Vilnius poet, said at the inauguration.

The festival opening and “The Forenoon of One Poem” were held traditionally in the courtyard of the Adam Mickiewicz House-Museum in Vilnius. Roman Gorecki-Mickiewicz, the ancestor of the bard, was present during the inauguration as well. Participants were also welcomed by representatives of the Polish Embassy in Vilnius and Polish Institute.

“It’s a meeting that’s still important and still beautiful. I envy you these meetings, the trip to Liaudė following in Sienkiewicz’s footsteps, and these two days which you’re going to spend together. I hope the wonderful impressions will translate into equally beautiful stanzas,” said Stanisław Cygnarowski, Consul General of the Republic of Poland.

“When I arrived in Vilnius in November and in the first weeks at work I met with Mr. Romek Mieczkowski, I’d already known that I had to look forward to May, ‘cause May means ‘May on the Neris.’ I’m glad that the festival has such a long tradition, that you meet every spring to talk, discuss, present your works,” Marcin Łapczyński, Director of the Polish Institute, addressed people gathered in the courtyard.

On Sunday the Polish Institute screened the film “In Desert and Wilderness,” which had been shot in 2001 and based on the Henryk Sienkiewicz’s novel that opened celebration of the Year of Henryk Sienkiewicz in Lithuania. On Monday, however, the new photographic exhibition “Sienkiewiczowska Lauda” [Liaudė of Sienkiewicz] is due to be opened in the Institute. It was created by the Polish scientist and photographer Jan Tadeusz Skłodowski. The photographs present current Liaudė, what has survived of it: churches, manors, cemeteries. A discussion on the integrative role of literature will also take place. Meanwhile, participants of the festival are going to set off on Wednesday following in the footsteps of Sienkiewicz’s “The Deluge” – from Biržai to Kėdainiai and Liaudė.

The organisation of the Festival “May on the Neris” is possible thanks to the support from the Foundation “Help for the Poles in the East” among others.

“It’s a natural consequence of what the foundation does, as we try to support education above all, and there’s no education, there’s no Polish language without the cultural context. That’s why we support all ways of expressing culture – that more popular and the higher one. […] It’s a matter of Polish culture promotion, but, above all, of the Polish language, our Polishness, without which we would not be what we are. I hope this festival will be an opportunity for you to consider the Polish word, about which we all must care – poets, journalists, officials. It’s our common good, which is endangered, not only abroad, but also in our country,” stressed Ewa Ziółkowska, Deputy Chairman of the Foundation “Help for the Poles in the East.”

The programme of the 23rd Festival “May on the Neris” embraced meetings with poetry, including “The Literary Wednesday,” with music, and film (with a guest performer – the Festival EMiGRA). New publications are going to be presented there as well: the monograph-album “Śladami słów skrzydlatych. Pomniki pisarzy i poetów polskich na Litwie,” Tomasz Snarski’s volume of poetry “Werblista,” books authored by guests of the festival, recent issues of the “Znad Wilii” quarterly magazine.

Translated by Karolina Katarzyńska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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