This year the Vilenica International Literary Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Quarter Centenary, a period which has been marked by social transformations, the changing role of literature and of writers and poets in the Slovene space, an opening out towards the West and East, relativization of the idea of Central Europe, etc. The Vilenica Festival has ever anew found responses to changing circumstances and has developed its basic mission: to present the most prominent world and Slovene creators and to promote literature in the international domain.
Once again, in this Jubilee year, the literary presentations remain the central part of the Festival. Between 31 August and 5 September more than 30 authors will appearing, and they will be joined this year with further presentations given by the prizewinners, which will be held in June, September and in January (2011), as well as the presentation of an Anthology of Slovene Literature in Irish, to be given on 21 September in Ljubljana. The literary readings will be held throughout Slovena and in the neighbouring countries in numerous European languages, accompanied by translations into English and Slovene, which will also be published in the Vilenica Almanac. As in all previous years, the best contribution in the Almanac will receive the Crystal Vilenica award, presented to the winner selected by the jury, which will be composed of guests of the Festival. Particular mention should also be made of the seven pre-opening events, among which the new occasions this year are the evenings in Bilje pri Novi Gorici and in Kosovelov dom in Sežana. The latter will be an especially celebratory event, since it will feature an appearance by this year’s award winer, Dževad Karahasan.
Theoretical Component: Who Reads?
Literature is fulfilled only in the act of reading, when the reader enters into interaction with the text by completing, interpreting etc. Who Reads?, therefore, is the final question within the group of three festivals dedicated towards reflecting on individual actors in the literary system. Who reads, indeed who still reads at all, how we read and how these reading habits change our concept of literature – these are just some of the themes to be reflected upon by guests invited to the Central European Initiative round-table, conducted by Tanja Lesničar Pučko, and to the International Comparativistic Colloquium, on this occasion to be arranged by Dr. Tone Smolej and Dr. Ana Vogrinčič.
Vilenica reaches its peak on the evening of the ceremonial presentation of the grand Vilenica International Literary Prize, which will take place on Saturday 4 September in the Vilenica cave. In addition to the grand prize, within the scope of the Festival other awars are also presented, including: the Crystal Vilenica for the best contribution to the Vilenica Almanac 2010, which is awarded by an international jury composed of guests of the Festival. The winner of the Crystal award, in addition to receiving a statuette by the academy painter Peter Abram, is also offered the opportunity to appear at the international Cúirt Festival of Literature held in Galway, Ireland; while the winner of the Cúirt Poetry Slam Award will be a guest at Vilenica. The winners of the Young Vilenica Award – the youngest of the Vilenica prizes – which will be presented in May by the Vilenica Cultural Society, will take part in a reading of the winning poems at the matinée in Štanjel. In addition, for fifth consecutive year, at the 25th Vilenica the Central European Initiative, in co-operation with the Slovene Writers’ Association will present yet a further »award« – the writer’s stipendium for encouraging literary creation and the exchange of young writers from Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldavia, Serbia and Ukraine.
Wales at Vilenica
The Welsh literature and its fate are very similar to Slovenian in many ways. In Wales also, Welsh was mostly spoken among rural population, the Welsh translation of the Bible was made only a few years after Slovenian one and the language itself has been the basis of national rebirth and self-confidence which began to strengthen in the 20th and 21st century. This year’s Vilenica Anthology Ffiniau aflonydd –Alternations of Frontiers, reveals the richness of this literature which is written both in English and Welsh and represents its main authors.
At Vilenica 2010, Welsh literature will be represented by Angharad Price, Lloyd Jones, Sian Melangell Dafydd, William Owen Riberts and the director of the organization Wales Literature Exchange, Sioned Rowlands.
Slovene Literature in the European Union
Vilenica accords a special place to the presentation of literature in lesser-known languages and to Slovene literature originating from beyond our national borders. Following on from the presentations of Porabian (from Hungary), Rezijan (Val Resia, Italy) and Veneto-Slovene (from Italy) literary creativity, last year we have begun holding presentations of Slovene creativity worldwide. First in order came the Argentine expatriate community, which has created the most extensive corpus of texts. This year, we will be encountering the interesting phenomen of Slovene writers who live and create in countries of the European Union. The presentation will be co-ordinated by Lev Detela, who is also living and creating in Vienna.