After the successful performance of a thematic trilogy in which the Vilenica Festival focused on the author, the mediators of literature, and the reader respectively, this year centres on the form of festivals and literary recitals in general, under the motto Read Me Live. This motto is also the title of a project now running for the second year in the framework of the European Commission’s Culture programme (2007–2013) – a project exploring and developing the promotion of reading culture through live literature in co-operation with the Lithuanian Druskininkai Poetic Fall and the festivals Cúirt (Ireland) and Ex Border (Italy).
As an internationally acclaimed festival of many years’ standing, Vilenica must continually reconsider its role in a changing world, seeking new ways to reach its audience, the expert and the general reader alike.
The focus of our interest will be the literary readings and sundry reflections on the performative nature of literature, which are to be held between September 6 and 11 by 30 authors. The Festival will be prolonged by the appearance of last year’s Vilenica Prize winner, Dževad Karahasan, scheduled for October, and a round table on Who can be a Slovene writer? (November 23, 2011), which will address the topical theme of foreign authors living and writing in Slovenia.
The readings will take place throughout Slovenia and beyond the border in several European languages, always accompanied by English and Slovene translations, which will be published in the Festival Almanac. As in all previous years, the best contribution to the Almanac will bring its author, selected by a jury of the Festival’s guests, the Crystal Vilenica Award. Particularly notable are the pre-opening evenings (September 6), which will include another new site: for the first time, a pre-opening evening, dedicated to the fifth anniversary of the Central European Initiative Writers-in-Residence Fellowship, is to be organised in Trieste. Trieste, as the seat of the CEI, will host three of the former fellows, thus publicly demonstrating the results of our initiative. Encouragingly, these young authors have fully established themselves in the meantime, and several of their works have been translated into a number of European languages.
Theoretical Component: Read Me Live
Is live reading simply a way of promoting and presenting literature, or is performativity inscribed into the very texts? Is live, loud reading really a mere performance, or was it once the dominant practice of literary reception? Such questions are posed this year by the Festival’s theoretical component, which will host a number of eminent guests. The CEI round table will be conducted by Gregor Podlogar, a poet who himself seeks fresh and innovative ways of presenting literature, while one of the prospective debaters is Alberto Manguel, the author of A History of Reading and certainly one of the world’s leading experts on this issue.
The performativity of literature and its links to the natural sciences will form the topic of the International Comparativistic Colloquium, chaired by Jola Škulj and Jernej Habjan.
Vilenica culminates in the ceremonial evening presentation of the grand Vilenica International Literary Prize, which will take place on Saturday, 10 September, in the Vilenica cave. In addition to the grand prize, the Festival will present still other awards, including the Crystal Vilenica for the best contribution to the Vilenica Almanac 2011, to be selected by an international jury of the Festival’s guests. Besides receiving a statuette by the academy painter Peter Abram, the winner of the Crystal Award is offered an opportunity to participate in the international Cúirt Festival of Literature held in Galway, Ireland; conversely, 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, presented in May by the Vilenica Cultural Society – will read the winning poems at the Štanjel matinée.
Finally, the Central European Initiative, in co-operation with the Slovene Writers’ Association, will present for the sixth year running a writer’s fellowship, intended to encourage literary creativity and the exchange of young writers from Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldavia, Serbia and Ukraine.
Turkey at Vilenica
The Vilenica Anthology series will be enriched this year by an anthology of contemporary Turkish literature entitled İstanbul Türküsü (Listening to Istanbul), offering a selection of 20th-century poetry and prose classics. The editors are Fehim Nametak and Alena Čatović, both professors at the University of Sarajevo, while the translations have been contributed by Veno Taufer, Lili Potpara, Aziz Počinka, Jana Unuk, Lara Simona Taufer, and Uroš Kalčič. Some texts have been translated directly from the Turkish, and others via English, French, or Serbian translations. Due to financial difficulties, this year’s anthology will exceptionally appear in late August.
The following authors are included: Ahmet Haşim, Yahya Kemal Beyathlı, Necip Fazıl Kısakürek, Nazım Hikmet Ran, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Orhan Veli Kanık, Turgut Uyar, Cemal Süreya, Atilla İlhan, Gülten Akın, Mehmed Yaşın, Sabahhatin Ali, Sait Faik Abasıyanık, Aziz Nesin, Yaşar Kemal, Tarık Dursun K., Füruzan, Tomris Uyar, Nazlı Eray, Selim İleri, Nedim Gürsel, Oǧuz Atay, Orhan Pamuk and Elif Şafak.
Read Me Live: A Live Literature Webpage
This year’s Festival, and the joint project of four European festivals supported by the European Commission (Culture Programme 2007-2013), will be accompanied by launching a live literature webpage, Read Me Live – www.readmelive.com. It will comprise video recordings of the readings and discussions held at the four festivals: Vilenica (Slovenia), Druskininkai Poetic Fall (Lithuania), Cúirt (Ireland), and Ex Border (Italy). In addition to the unique opportunity of hearing and seeing in a single place eminent authors from all over the world read from their works, the webpage will offer a social network, Live Literature. The network seeks to connect all those involved in the production and reception of books. Our ambition is for the social network to expand over the years, thus enabling an exchange of information, as well as new contacts and co-operation at the European, perhaps even global, level. It will support sending messages to the other members, as well as obtaining information on individuals’ activities in their professional fields.