Pisateljsko štipendijo SEP podeljuje Srednjeevropska pobuda v sodelovanju z Društvom slovenskih pisateljev v okviru festivala Vilenica. Namenjena je spodbujanju meddržavnega sodelovanja in promocije na področju literature za mlade avtorje do 35. leta starosti iz držav članic SEP, ki niso del Evropske unije. Štipendija v višini 5.000 EUR je namenjena trimesečnemu bivanju v kateri koli državi članici SEP, ki si jo izbere kandidat sam. V tem času naj bi avtor realiziral projekt, s katerim se je prijavil na razpis.
The recipient of the CEI Fellowship for Writers in Residence 2007 is
MARIANNA kIYANOVSKA from Ukraine
Marianna Kiyanovska (b. 1973) is a poet, a prose writer, a translator and a literary critic. She lives and works in Lviv, Ukraine. She is the author of several collections of poetry: Incarnation (1997), Sonnets (1999), Myth Creation (2001), Love and War (co-authored with Marjana Savka, 2002), The Book of Adam (2004) and Simple Speech (2005), as well as short stories and research articles. She also translates Polish, Russian and Byelorussian poetry. She is a member of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine and of the Association of Ukrainian Writers.
The CEI Fellowship Committee:
A Path alongside the River (Steza ob reki)
“The poet, writer, translator and literary critic Marianna Kiyanovska lives in Lviv, where she is very active in culture. As the author of numerous poetry collections, short stories and essays she has published her compositions in school journals as well. A number of pieces of research have focused on her work. She has received numerous awards and acknowledgments.
Her project encompassing a series of short stories or a short story novel deals with the question of myth and the mechanisms of mythologisation in contemporary culture. The project surpasses the boundaries of the classical tradition, though it is linked to it, with its unique approach, pronouncedly typical of the author. The events escalating at the same time and place shun the already defined dimension by using the familiar time and space coordinates. The myth becomes the only form of consciousness existing beyond time alongside of the thread interweaving statics and dynamics, invariability and variability.”
Report for Central European Fellowship for Young European Writer 2006:
First of all I would like to thank Central European Initiative and the Slovene Writers’ Association for awarding me the “Writers in Residence” Fellowship, which gave me an opportunity to test myself as a prose writer and to realize my intention to write a book of short stories — and, of course, to live in the united Europe again. It is rather difficult to speak about Europe for someone who knows nothing about it. Europe inspires because it cannot help doing it, and residence in Europe can teach many things.
I have always considered myself a European citizen, but this three months residence in EU countries filled the notion of “European citizen” with a new content for me. The experience of living in Europe without borders became something special for me as a Ukrainian writer. Unfortunately, Ukraine, though it has been an independent state for seventeen years, remains a very closed country, and first of all for its own citizens who wish to visit Europe not as tourists on Mediterranean beaches and not as gastarbeiters. Both tourists and gastarbeiters, unlike other categories of travelers, do get to go to Europe. But it is far more difficult to visit Europe for an artist, who travels with, let us say, professional purpose.
I believe that the situation of art and literature in particular in Ukraine has recently improved, but at the same time it has also deteriorated substantially. Unfortunately, this deterioration is being discussed only in private talks, and not at the official level. But the truth is that Ukrainian state has stopped supporting the culture and literature, which promote democratic and educational goals, since an enlightened society is far more resistant to manipulations. The authorities do declare that they are supportive of a highly educated society, but in reality they do not promote it. And we, Ukrainian artists, Ukrainian writers, find ourselves in a new situation of isolation — especially compared to the artists who are citizens of the European and American countries. We — just because we are not citizens of European Union – cannot visit European countries freely, get to know the world, travel, and get to know other European cultures as they were in the twentieth century and as they became in the twenty-first century. We know almost nothing about the state of cultures even of the largest European countries, to say nothing about the cultures of smaller countries, such as, for example, Slovenia.
As a result, the European culture is not perceived as an integral unity, though such perception is extremely important. It is indeed vital for understanding what “Europe without borders” is. But even a writer, a Ukrainian citizen, who, like me, gets a chance (thanks to a fellowship program, for instance) to go to any European country, is not spared the humiliation and absurdity of the visa process. I am talking not only about the strange and meaningless rules that are meant in fact to prevent one from obtaining a visa, but also the attitude of the officials towards the citizens of Ukraine. In my mind, this resembles the attitude towards black citizens of the U.S. during the first half of the twentieth century, manifesting patterns which we generally call racism. In any case, my personal experience of obtaining the Schengen visa was very negative. It is enough to say that I got my Schengen visa not on the term from March 1st till May, 27th, as was indicated in all of my application documents, including a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Poland to Consul of Republic of Poland in Lviv, but from February, 5th till May, 5th. That forced me to set off from Ukraine practically a month earlier. It meant a number of inconveniences for me, since I had to rearrange my accommodation. Fortunately, in this situation I was treated kindly, and I could write my book without difficulty.
In fact, all my troubles ended as soon as I finally crossed the border of Poland. The first two weeks I spent in Warsaw, and then I departed to Cieszyn-Těšin, where I spent the rest of the time provided by the fellowship. It is a small town in the south of Poland, actually two towns, a Polish Cieszyn and a Czech Český Těšin. The town is divided into two parts by the Olza river, which is the state border between Czech Republic and Poland. Actually, while living in this town I truly understood what Europe without borders is. In the morning I went to buy Polish newspapers, then crossed a bridge, crossing the state border — just crossing a bridge, — and on Czech territory bought Czech newspapers. From the railway station in Český Těšin I went to other Czech cities, and from the station in Polish Cieszyn I went to some Polish cities. An event of special importance for me, of course, was a week-long stay in Prague. In such a way I began to discover the Czech Republic for myself. In fact, I knew a lot about the Czech Republic, in particular, about the Czech avant-garde, which has a number of common features with the Ukrainian avant-garde, but I knew it only from the Ukrainian perspective. Now I was able to complement my knowledge, so to say, with the Czech perspective. And this applies not only to the Czech avant-garde. By the way, exactly at this time the Warsaw National Museum was holding a great exhibition “Wyprawa w dwudziestolecie” (“Expedition in the 20th century”), presenting an extremely large and thoroughly prepared collection of Polish avant-garde. I used my chance to visit this exhibition as well. And this is an example of “Europe without borders”, something that would be impossible for me to experience as a Ukrainian artist, without the fellowship. I would not have been able to just go and visit this historic exhibition in Warsaw (because the works collected from the museums and private collections of all Poland were presented there). I would not have been able to have a chance to compare the works of the representatives of Ukrainian, Polish and Czech avant-garde to make sure that the European culture is whole and integral. Finally, though my Polish-Czech “parallel” life itself was a special experience, Cieszyn has the river, exactly the kind I was looking for to write my book of stories “Path alongside the River”.
This was the book (” Path alongside the river”) I proposed last year, including it in my application for the “Writers in Residence” fellowship. Needless to say, in the process of writing the book began to live its own life and develop by its own internal laws, and I as an author had to submit to these laws.
Initially, it should have consisted of many short stories. Instead, I wrote six rather long short stories — “SHE AND THE KIDS”, “THE PUPPET HOUSE”, “LIVE AND DEAD PERFORMANCE”, “ALL AS IT SHOULD BE”, “THE SORCERER AND THE PRINCE”, ” PROMETHEUS”. These stories are multifaceted, containing many layers of meaning. I wrote them on the basis of the material which I have been thinking about for several years. On the surface, each story has a simple plot, and each story refers to universal mythological subjects, trying, however, to avoid direct prototypes. The stories contain a difficult intellectual game. Every text contains a lot of literary allusions and quotations. For example, “ALL AS IT SHOULD BE” is in a certain sense an “anti-Bovary” story, but at the same time it is a story about the meeting of woman and a faun. This is plot adopted from classic Greek mythology. At the same time it is an allusion to the poems of the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, and a strange love-story with a happy ending. But what was and remains the most important for me is the development of a liminal situation, a collision of the archaic and the mythological with, so to say, the “technogeneous”, the urban within the limits of a human consciousness. This theme prevails in “THE PUPPET HOUSE”, but it is present distinctly in the rest of my stories, too.
Actually, I in my prose, as well as in my poetry, I use the mechanisms of myth creation and mythologization, because only myth and special mythological or mythologizing consciousness help the humans in the process of becoming self-conscious in the context of total alienation in the urban dehumanizing environment.
In the final version of my book I don’t deal with that same path and that same river that I planned at the beginning, and the models of time and space of the stories are different from the originally intended ones. But each story retains the concepts of a path and a river, and the opposition of a city and a little town as well. This opposition determines a conflict, each time in different way, in five of six stories in the book “Path alongside the River”.
Just as I wanted, my short stories are extremely “real”. But since concrete stories from life contain a mythological plot and some literary allusions, these texts in any case are not “realistic”. They can be read in different ways, depending on the perspective and a viewpoint. During my stay in Poland and Czech Republic, in Ukraine, in “Fakt” publishing house (Kyiv) my new book of poems “Deshcho shchodenne” (“Something Daily”) was published. Now this publishing house is ready to publish my book “Path alongside the River”. If this happens, this will be my third book published by this publishing house, since my collection of poetry “Common Language” was published in “Fakt” in 2005. In addition, in March volume of “Kyyivs’ka Rus'” magazine my translations of poems by Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun with large essays about Tomaž Šalamun’s poetry and Andrej Blatnik’s prose were published (short stories by Andrej Blatnik, published in the same magazine, were translated by Andriy Porytko). By the way, I have already prepared a large selection of my Ukrainian translations of the poems by some remarkable Slovenian poets. These texts can be published in “Courier Krivbasu” magazine as soon as I get the permission from the authors.
I am happy that this fellowship enabled me to write my prose, in fact in one sitting. Moreover, my stay both in Poland and in Czech Republic provided me with the opportunities for reading. I was also able to discover that boundless cultural space of these two countries. It was very fortunate for me to be in Cieszyn, since the University here prepares professional culturologists, as well as art, film, and music critics. Therefore I was enjoying a perfect cultural environment and many opportunities for communication. This fact is difficult to overestimate. It was instrumental for my writing; it inspired me, and in general provided an invaluable experience, not to mention personal meetings with interesting Polish artists.
I am convinced that such friendly artistic interactions that I got thanks to the fellowship from CEI and SWA are just as important as writing the book. I had a wonderful chance to experience what Europe without borders is. I got numberless impressions and obtained priceless new knowledge. I made sure once again that Ukraine has always been an integral part of Europe. I always did it and shall try to do it in future — to get Ukraine and Europe closer by my translation activity. I wish the border between Ukraine and Europe was similar to the one between Czech Republic and Poland — unnoticeable for those who cross to the other bank of the river.