At the Vilenica pre-opening events on 2 September, on the eve of the official opening of the Vilenica Festival, we will have the honour of hosting the world-famous Cuban writer Zoé Valdés (in Ljubljana), German prose writer Ulrich Peltzer (in Maribor), Chinese poet Yang Lian and writer Yo Yo, exiled to Great Britain (in Gorizia, Italy), Vilenica laureate Goran Stefanovski and Macedonian writer Kica Kolbe (at the Škrabec Homestead at Hrovača),Iztok Geister and Peter Stamm (in Koper). The events are organised in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, the Tuma publishing house, the Ex-Border Festival, the newspaper Primorske novice, the Cervantes Institute, the Embassy of Spain, and the Golden Boat Literary Society.
Official opening of the 23rd Vilenica Festival and presentation of the CEI Fellowship
The opening of Vilenica will take place in the Hotel Club atrium in Lipica. Welcome notes will be followed by the announcement of the fellowship winner. The Central European Initiative in collaboration with the Slovene Writers’ Association will present the CEI Fellowship for Writers in Residence as part of the Vilenica festival. The fellowship seeks to encourage cross-border cooperation and promotion in the field of literature for young writers from Albania, Belarus, BiH, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine. The international jury members: Jani Virk, Lucija Stupica, Patrizzia Vascotto, Ludwig Hartinger and Vanesa Matajc will consider the application forms and select three shortlisted candidates who will be members of the Vilenica festival, with the recipient of the fellowship being announced at the opening ceremony. Last year, the recipient of the fellowship was Marianna Kiyanovska from Ukraine.
A staple of the Vilenica Festival are literary readings organised in Karst villages and at other venues in Slovenia. As every year, the best contribution to the Almanac will receive the Vilenica Crystal Award, which will be presented at the Štanjel Literary Matinée by an international jury consisting of festival guests. The winner of the Crystal (the statuette is a work by Peter Abram, a Karst artist) will again have an opportunity to participate in the prestigious Cúirt Literary Festival in Ireland.
Literary readings at Vilenica 2008:
Wednesday, 3 Sept, 8 p.m.
Lipica, Valley of the Mother of God
Thursday, 4 Sept, 7 p.m.
Hruševje by Postojna, St Daniel’s Church
Thursday, 4 Sept, 7 p.m.
Lokev, St Michael’s Church
Friday, 5 Sept, 5 p.m.
Ljubljana, Jazz Club Gajo
Friday, 5 Sept, 8 p.m.
Ljubljana, Ljubljana Castle
Saturday, 6 Sept, 10.30 a.m.
Saturday, 6 Sept, 7 p.m.
The theoretical component
On the 40th anniversary of a watershed treatise in literary theory, Death of the Author by post-structuralist literary critic Roland Barthes, the theoretical part of the 23rd Vilenica programme raises the question of the author as a literary and sociological category. This year’s Vilenica key theme dictates the festival’s motto as well: “Who Is Writing?” Through both content and (interrogative) form, the motto seeks to draw critical attention to the person standing behind every literary text, the only truly indispensable link in the book chain. The choice of theme was motivated, first, by the need to reconsider some questions of principle about the place of the author as writer of literature – both in the narrow sense of literary theory and in the broader social framework – and, secondly, by concern about the author’s position in contemporary cultural industry, which is determined by the logic of capital, the increasingly cheap tastes of the reading public, the levelling process of globalisation, and the spread of contemporary media.
The theme of the author leads to the issues of copyright, fees, and professionalisation of literary work. Although the fees meted out to literary authors in Slovenia are shamefully low, it is seen as inappropriate, undignified, and generally improper for writers to discuss such practical aspects of their craft. “He /the author/ must discuss his creative work in a specific, coded way: he must allude to inspiration, creativity, rather than to production, fees, royalties, and other banalities of the writer’s inspiration.” (308) Although the romantic myth of the dreamy and penniless poet is long obsolete, it continues to determine us and to define our perception of the literary author, at least subconsciously. The absurdly low fees for literary works are not problematic only in themselves, making decent living an impossibility, but also as reflections of the relationships prevailing in our society and as indices of the general social climate. For all its lip service paid to the indisputable importance of producing and consuming literary works – if we consciously borrow the vocabulary of contemporary marketing logic – the state sees no need for a legislative regulation which would bring not only a symbolic but also an economic evaluation to the person behind the book – the cultural asset particularly honoured by the Slovenes. This alone would encourage more authors to cross the threshold of professionalisation.
All these and many other questions will be discussed with our foreign guests at all central and some of the accompanying events of the 23rd Vilenica Festival.
CEI Round Table at Vilenica
This year’s round table organised under the auspices of the Central European Initiative is entitled “The Author between Text and Context”. The moderator, Dr Marko Uršič, will host guests coming from the member states of the CEI – Yuri Andrukhovych (Ukraine), Ivana Sajko (Croatia), and Goran Stefanovski (Macedonia) – as well as Tomas Venclova(Lithuania) as an external representative. Dr Uršič has based his concept around three clusters of issues, the first touching on the role of the author as writer, the second inquiring into his role as reader of his works, and the third problematising his role as critic. Through this sensible and original structure runs the red thread of polemicising against contemporary economic and social reality, which pressures the author to prove himself not only as a writer but also as a promoter and apologist for his work. This unavoidably interferes with the autonomy of artistic creation and perhaps even runs counter to the laws of creativity.
The 6th International Comparative Literature Colloquium
In collaboration with the Slovene Comparative Literature Association, with the Department of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory (Philosophy of Arts, University of Ljubljana), and the Institute of Slovene Literature and Literary Science (Scientific Research Centre of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts), we are organising as part of the 23rd Vilenica Festival the 6th International Comparative Literature Colloquium on the topic of “The Author: Who or What Is Writing Literature?”, chaired by Dr Vanesa Matajc and Dr Gašper Troha. The speakers’ contributions will revolve around three central themes: (1) the Renaissance and the invention of the author in modern Western literary theory; Ancient Greece and the question of “who or what is creating literary texts (or literary works of art)”; the Middle Ages and the concept of the authority of a (literary) name (“Auctor”); (2) 20th century concepts of the author: the problem of the author as the subject of a literary work, the problem of language as the subject of a literary text, the reader’s adoption of the author’s creative role; neo-avant-gardes and the realisation of literature; the concept of intertextuality; the virtual author in the new media; (3) postcolonial studies and changes in the literary triad: the author as an anonymous voice in oral literary tradition; (4) the author’s role in the historical inventions of tradition: the author as a discursive construct in establishing the identities of various social groups and their histories; the author as an instrument for interpreting tradition, the author as interpreter, the interpreter as an authority in the context of political history, national cultural politics, gender politics, etc.; (5) the author’s function in the concept of literature as autonomous reality: the author as the subject of literariness.
Accompanying events related to the theme of the festival
The Vilenica accompanying programme is planned to include two more events directly linked to the festival theme. The first is a literary evening with Ciril Zlobec, entitled “A Portrait of a Poet as a Young Man: an interview with Ciril Zlobec”, where members of the Slovene Writers’ Association Youth Club will join the poet in reflecting on the individual’s earliest formation as a creator of literature, and illuminate the differences between the position held by young authors today and in the past. This, however, will be but one of the many events grouped under the title “Becoming an Author”, which will take place on the pre-festival Saturday in the Negovan Nemec Gallery at Bilje, co-organised by the Slovene Writers’ Association Youth Section.
Secondly, a round table entitled “Living as an Author in Slovenia Today” and chaired byMr Slavko Pregl, President of the Slovene Writers’ Association, will seek to deepen our insight into the author’s role in the typical Slovene reality. We will inquire into the circumstances in which the Slovene author writes, their changes since the Slovene declaration of independence, the economic standing of authors, how they are perceived in the larger media space, how this perception is influenced by the publisher’s promotional policy and by the author himself, and, last but not least, how the author’s position influences the status and prospects of original Slovene literature.
A novelty of this year’s Vilenica, already prefigured last year, is a series of events featuring guest authors under the title “An Author at My Table”. Their co-organisers are the publishing houses which will publish the works of the Vilenica guests in Slovene translations this year. The decision of the Vilenica jury to invite a number of writers scheduled to appear in Slovene translations in 2008 is a conscious one, arising from the wish to take full advantage of the guest authors’ visit.
Presentation of books
Cankarjeva Publishing House will publish a book by Vilenica 2007 Prize Winner Goran Stefanovski translated by Aleš Mustar.
The Litterae Slovenicae Series, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, will be enlarged with a translation of selected poems by Svetlana Makarovič, who will be in the focus of this year’s festival. An accompanying study will be contributed by Boris A. Novak; the translators of the poems are Ludwig Hartinger and Alan McConnell-Duff and theeditor of the book is Lela B. Njatin.
Lesser-Known Literatures of Europe at Vilenica: Contemporary Lithuanian Literature
This year’s “Lesser-Known Literatures of Europe at Vilenica” project focuses on contemporary Lithuanian literature. In collaboration with the organisations Books from Lithuania,Literature Across Frontiers, and the Embassy of Lithuania in Ljubljana, we are preparing literary events and interviews featuring the guest authors, as well as the publication of a contemporary Lithuanian literature anthology entitled Artuma (Closeness in English). In contrast to Basque and Irish-language literatures, which were presented last year and the year before last, the texts in this anthology are translated directly from the original.
Interestingly, the Vilenica focus coincides with a general interest of Slovene publishing houses in Lithuanian authors. The Slovene translation corpus has been recently enriched by as many as four literary novelties from Lithuania, some of them just about to emerge from the printer’s. The publication of these books is fruitfully exploited at the Vilenica Festival as well: in collaboration with the publishers, some of the books will be presented together with the guest authors. A literature which was but yesterday practically a closed book to the Slovene – and largely also the international – readership thus introduces itself with a flourish in the framework of Vilenica. The literary programme will be accompanied by the performance of a jazz group from Lithuania, which will first appear on its own and later in a tried and tested combination with a literary reading.
Reception by the Mayor of the City of Ljubljana
The reception by the Mayor of the City of Ljubljana will take place at Ljubljana castle. The evening will be dedicated to the presentation of Vilenica 2008 Prize Winner Andrzej Stasiukand to the Slovene poetess Svetlana Makarovič.
Presentation of the Crystal Vilenica
Beside the grand Vilenica Prize, there are other prizes to be distributed. At the Štanjel Literary Matinée, the Vilenica Crystal Award will be given to one of the Central European authors. Their contributions will be collected in the Vilenica 2008 Almanac and presented at one of the literary readings. Along with a statuette by the academic painter Peter Abram, the winner of the Crystal receives an opportunity to participate in a central international literary festival, the Cúirt Festival of Literature held in the Irish town of Galway, while the Poetry Slam Award winner of the Cúirt Festival will be welcomed at Vilenica. The Štanjel Literary Matinée is sponsored, for the second year running, by the Tilia Insurance Company.
Author in Focus: Svetlana Makarovič
The 23rd Vilenica Festival will pay particular attention to the Slovene poet Svetlana Makarovič. At the publication of selected and translated poems from her collection Aloneness in the Litterae Slovenicae Series, the author will appear at both central festival events: the reception of the Vilenica participants by the Mayor of the City of Ljubljana and the award-giving ceremony in the Vilenica Cave. Her book will be presented to the public, international and Slovene, in the Konzorcij Bookshop, together with a translation of selected plays written by the Vilenica 2007 Prize winner, Goran Stefanovski.
Rezija (Val Resia) at Vilenica
The Vilenica Festival has traditionally emphasised literary creativity in minority languages, dialects, and other minor and usually lesser-known language groups. Having presented the literatures of Venetian Slovenia, of the Raab region, and of the Slovene minority in Croatia in the previous years, this year the Vilenica Festival will focus on the Rezija (Val Resia) dialect with its literary activities. The first session will be held during the regular 23rdVilenica Festival, on Saturday, 6 September, at 11 AM as part of the Literary Matinée at Štanjel Castle. The introductory presentations by Matej Šekli and Roberto Dapit will be followed by the readings of two poets, Silvana Paletti and Renato Quaglia. The second session, a round table, is scheduled after the official festival programme – on Thursday, 2 October, at 11 AM in Ljubljana. The participants in the discussion, moderated by Matej Šekli, will be Roberto Dapit, Milko Matičetov, Luigia Negro, Silvana Paletti and Han Steenwijk.
The aim of the presentation, organised in collaboration with Matej Šekli, is to provide an insight into the state of the Rezija dialect and its literary creativity today, as well as to problematise all factors with some bearing on the survival, development, and recognisability of this rich cultural heritage. The evening programme of the festival will include a viewing ofTa rožina dolina, a documentary made by the Radio and Television Slovenia.
CEI Fellowship for Writers in Residence
In the framework of the 23rd Vilenica Festival, the Central European Initiative from Trieste, collaborating with the Slovene Writers’ Association, will award a fellowship for writers in residence for the third year running.
Presentation of the grand Vilenica 2008 Prize
The central event of the festival is the presentation of the Vilenica 2008 Prize to the Polish prose writer Andrzej Stasiuk. The presentation will take place in the Vilenica cave.