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The second day of the SILESIUS Poetry Festival has ended

The SILESIUS International Poetry Festival is currently underway in Wrocław. Many literary events – author meetings, workshops and concerts will be taking place throughout the entire week, until 15 May. Every single one of them are connected by one thing – poetry. Yesterday, meetings took place in Stary Klasztor Club, the White Stork Synagogue and the Polish Theatre.

Early in the afternoon, the meeting of Poets and Directors took place in the Municipal Office. Jarosław Broda, Krzysztof Koehler, Antoni Pawlak and Mirosław Spychalski – all of them directors who are also poets – read their poems and discussed about poetry, hardships of writing and the role of a contemporary poet in the society with Marcin Hamkało, who was the host of the meeting. The meeting was interrupted by a group of activists who protested against the cultural policy of Wrocław, asking for the resignation or dismissal of Jarosław Broda, Director of the Department of Culture of the Wrocław Municipal Office. The protesters played music and made noise, thus making the poetry reading impossible. They also ignored the request of Director Broda himself, who asked that the meeting with the invited authors continue and end as planned, with a discussion about politics to follow. He also gave a business card to one of the protesters, and arranged a meeting with her. The reason for the protest was Director Broda’s decision to dismiss the director of Wrocław Contemporary Museum, Dorota Monkiewicz. The activists have brought banners with slogans: “We don’t want to wade in culture” [translator’s note: the Polish banner contained a wordplay on director’s last name, “Nie chcemy brodzić w kulturze”, which can be also interpreted as “We don’t want Broda in culture”] , “Wrocław without Broda”, “A poetic soul won’t help the director”, they also threw leaflets saying “broda, it is, it was”, referring to the project “it was, it is, it will be” by Stanisław Dróżdż. They also opened and spilled a bottle of champagne in the Office. During the author meeting, a heated discussion took place, after which the protesters left. The guests then continued the discussion and reading, raising the issue of sensitivity, which causes people to create poetry, the traps of the language of bureaucracy, which can be an obstacle for creating poetry, and the identity of the poet and their role in the contemporary society. Moreover, Director Marcin Baran told a few anecdotes from his time at university, Mirosław Spychalski jokingly proposed publishing an anthology of bureaucratic poetry, and Antoni Pawlak shared his provocative idea for an experimental poem, written in bureaucratic language in its entirety. It started with “In the promotional office an emotion erupted...”; however, the author had forgotten the rest of the poem.

From 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. the audience had an opportunity to listen to the interpretations of poems, prose and even some unpublished texts of authors such as: Miłosz Biedrzycki, Cezary Domarus, Mirosław Drabczyk, Bogusław Duch, Konrad Góra, Mariusz Grzebalski, Roman Honet, Łukasz Jarosz, Krzysztof Jaworski, Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki, Paweł Kelnera Rozwadowski, Marek Kołodziejski, Tomasz Grobelski, Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, Tomasz Majeran, Tomasz Pietrzak, Jacek Podsiadło, Robert Rybicki, Ewa Sonnenberg, Artur Szlosarek, Ilona Witkowska, Przemysław Witkowski, Agnieszka Wolny-Hamkało, Filip Zawada and Adam Zdrodowski. The title of the meeting – The Great and Long Reading of Poetry – was not selected randomly. Among the texts were also those published by the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016, as well as Ośrodek Postaw Twórczych [Centre for Creative Attitudes] in the Helikopter Internet magazine anthology – Przewodnik po zaminowanym terenie [A guide through a minefield]. The audience was very patient, and the meeting hosted by Krzysztof Śliwka and Marek Śnieciński turned into a performance.

After the meeting, the poets and the guests moved to the concert of the legendary DEUTER band, where the fans of good old punk music had an opportunity to have fun to the rhythm of unforgettable tunes. The Świebodzki Stage of the Polish Theatre hosted another instalment of the Active Mondays cycle. During this week’s meeting, Małgorzata Gorol, Agnieszka Kwietniewska, Ewelina Żak and Michał Opaliński read Rozrzucone [Thrown Around] by Marcin Kurek, presenting their tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Kurek’s moving metaphor of contemporary Poland, resulting in funny reactions of the audience. The play was directed by Aleksandra Jakubczak. The attendance on the meeting was surprisingly high, as almost 200 people came to see the performance.

The second day of the festival has ended with a moving concert titled Only a human being, featuring Bente Kahan singing poems by Tadeusz Różewicz. In the dark hall of the White Stork Synagogue, the singer and actress connected with Wrocław performed with her band her arrangements of the poems. Apart from “Letter to the Cannibals”, “The Story of Old Women” and “The Survivor”, her interpretations of a fragment of the “Professor’s Penknife” – “Trains Still Depart” evoked tears of emotions. After the words “is this Treblinka / asks a young girl / in the blush of her youth / I recall / her lips / and eyes like a handful of violets / it is Rose from Radomsk . . . / (...) we will be getting off at Treblinka / you know I'm dying of hunger / seriously / I am so hungry / I could eat a horse / or a carrot / beets / a head of cabbage / and . . . where are you going Sir? If I may ask”, a moving silence dominated the Synagogue. The concert ended with a standing ovation.

Come to other meetings connected with the SILESIUS International Poetry Festival. Coming today: The Poet of Europe: Rikardo Arregi and Harkaitz Cano – an author meeting with contemporary Basque poets, Around the Poems by Witold Wirpsza – a discussion about the creations of the exceptional Polish experimental poet, and Jazzformance – Wirpsza concert, featuring: Radosław Krzyżowski, Bartłomiej Oleś, Marcin Oleś, Piotr Orzechowski „Pianohooligan” – jazz interpretation of poems by Witold Wirpsza.

Full programme of the Festival  H E R E

Join our event  H E R E

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