The 31st Vilenica International Literary Festival, organised by the Slovene Writers’ Association and the Vilenica Cultural Association from Sežana, will once again present leading authors and literature from Central Europe, other European countries, and the rest of the world. The festival will take place from September 6 to 11, 2016, with a preliminary program in June.
More than twenty different languages and the voices of more than twenty-five authors from Europe and elsewhere will be heard at this year’s Vilenica Festival. The Young Vilenica Prize will be presented to young poets in the Vilenica Cave in the Karst region of Slovenia on June 6, 2016. The main festival programme will take place in September in Ljubljana, Sežana, Lipica, Maribor, Celje, Koper, Trboljve, Štanjel, Bilje, Lokev, Trieste, and the Vilenica Cave.

This year’s festival will be headlined by the Croatian writer, Dubravka Ugrešić, the recipient of the 2016 Vilenica Prize.
The presentation of the award will take place in the Vilenica Cave.
This year’s Slovenian Author in Focus is Suzana Tratnik, who will also play an important role in the 2016 festival. Dalkey Archive Press will publish Tratnik’s collection of short stories entitled Games with Greta and Other Stories translated by Michael Biggins.

An international jury composed of notable Vilenica Festival guests will select the recipient of the Crystal Vilenica prize for a Central European author whose work will be featured in the Vilenica Almanac and who will appear at literary readings during the festival. The prize will be awarded at the Štanjel Matinee. At the 31st Vilenica Festival, the Central European Initiative (CEI), in cooperation with the Slovene Writers’ Association, will award the CEI Fellowship for Writers in Residence for the tenth year running. The fellowship is aimed at encouraging literary endeavours and supporting author exchange programmes for young writers from Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine. The recipient of the CEI Fellowship for Writers in Residence will be announced at a press conference scheduled for the month of September

Literature and Ethics
This year, the Vilenica Festival is entering a new four-year period for which its chosen theme is Literature and Ethics. In accordance with the festival’s mission, the new theme will facilitate a constructive dialogue about current questions concerning literature, culture, and society, and will encourage cultural pluralism, tolerance, and non-aggression. During the 31st Vilenica Festival, we will deal with the issue of the existence of free will, which has been at the centre of debates about determinism in the cognitive sciences, and the role of literature as a sort of mediator between scholars and the layman.
Carlos Pascual (writer, poet, essayist, columnist, founder of the Pocket Teater Studio, an independent studio for the development of intimate theatre) will be the moderator of this year’s roundtable. Participants will include Alexandre Bergamini (France) is a writer, poet, dramaturge, and lecturer; Gábor Schein (Hungary) is a fiction writer, essayist, literary historian, and assistant professor of Hungarian literature at the ELTE University in Budapest; Suzana Tratnik (Slovenia) is a writer, columnist, and recipient of the Prešeren Fund Award for literature.

Literary readings
Literary readings are the staple of the Vilenica Festival Programme. This year, the audience will enjoy performances by the following literary guests:
Adisa Bašić (Bosnia and Herzegovina) writer, poet, journalist, lecturer, recipient of international awards; Aleš Berger (Slovenia) essayist, playwright, writer, translator, for many years the editor of the translation program at Mladinska knjiga, recipient of many awards for his work; Jana Bodnárová (Slovakia) poet, writer, playwright, author of radio plays; Martin Dyar (Ireland) poet and recipient of the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award and Strokestown International Poetry Award; Dana Grigorcea (Switzerland) writer and philologist born in Bucharest; Jovica Ivanovski (Macedonia) writer, poet, playwright, featured in many anthologies of Macedonian poetry; Kateryna Kalytko (Ukraine) poet and translator, recipient of the 2015 Central European Initiative Writers-in-Residence Fellowship; Patricija Dodič (Slovenia) librarian, poet, editor, columnist, mentor of courses in Italian and Slovenian for foreigners; Cvetka Lipuš (Austria/Slovenia) poet translated into many foreign languages, recipient of the Prešeren Fund Award; Valerio Magrelli (Italy) poet, writer, essayist, translator of French literature; Aksinja Mihajlova (Bulgaria) writer and translator, her poems have been translated in places from Canada to Egypt and China; Ülar Ploom (Estonia) poet and translator with a special focus on Italian literature; Robert Schindel (Austria) poet, writer with Jewish roots; Korana Serdarević (Croatia) writer, translator, lecturer, recipient of numerous awards for her short stories; Mariusz Sieniewicz (Poland) writer, recipient of many international and domestic awards, many of his novels adapted for the theatre; Bogdan Suceavă (US/Romania) Romanian writer living in the US where he lectures in mathematics, recipient of many international awards; Yulya Tsimafeyeva (Belarus) poet, translator; Kateřina Tučková (Czech Republic) writer, curator for ARSkontakt, which is oriented toward the younger generation of artists; Les Wicks (Australia) poet, publisher, editor whose poems have been published in at least 350 literary reviews, anthologies, and other publication around the world.

Latvia at Vilenica
Latvia will be the country in focus at the 31st Vilenica Festival. We will present the eleventh Vilenica Anthology entitled Dzeja, the word meaning a form of folk song in the Latvian language. The work of fourteen contemporary Latvian poets is collected in the anthology. The Vilenica Festival will host four of these Latvian authors: Balode Ingmāra, writer and translator, editor at the Mansards Publishing House and lecturer at Latvia’s university of culture; Viguls Arvis poet, literary critic, and translator, recipient of numerous Latvian awards for literature; Artis Ostups, poet and literary critic, writer of reviews and essays on themes of literature and philosophy.

14th International Comparative Literature Colloquium
Vilenica will be hosting the 14th International Comparative Literature Colloquium, also entitled Literature and Ethics, which will deal with the dimension of ethics in literature. Currents events, such as new forms of warfare, migration, and societal pressures, pose a challenge to the field of literature, asking for the re-examination of its tools of analysis as regards ethics in literature and literature’s role in this context. This year’s colloquium will address the theme on three levels: the ethics of imagination, the ethics of narration, and the ethics of interpretation.
The Colloquium will take place in Ljubljana on September 9 and 10. Participants come from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Germany, Macedonia, Austria, and Slovenia.

Vilenica Publications
In addition to the annual Vilenica Almanac, the festival will participate in the publication of two new literary publications: Suzana Tratnik’s collection of short stories entitled Games with Greta and Other Stories translated by Michael Biggins, and the Slovenian translation of the novel Nightwork (Nočno delo) by the winner of last year’s Vilenica Prize, Czech writer, Jáchym Topol, published by the Cankarjeva Publishing House in their Vilenica Collection.

16th Young Vilenica
In 2016, the 16th International Young Vilenica competition for poetry attracted 195 poems from young people from Slovenia and neighbouring countries. Last year, the competition reached across national borders, inviting participation from Slovenian children and youth who live in Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia. This year, we reached out to all Slovenian children who were born and live outside of Slovenia. We are extremely happy with the response we received from four educational institutions in Italy, which collectively contributed 23 poems. We received four poems from Austria and seven from Bijelina and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The theme of the 16th Young Vilenica is entitled “My Own Slovenian” and is related to the diversity of all Slovenian youth who live in different cultural spaces and speak different versions of Slovenian. Using their own literary works, youngsters express themselves in the variant of Slovenian in which they feel most at home. Poems are in literary or colloquial Slovenian, slang or dialect. “We want this program to inspire care for our beautiful language that is actively used by almost two million people, and, above all, reflection about this magnificent tool that we use every day to express our desires, needs, and emotions,” Tinkara Kovač, president of Young Vilenica, said about the selection of the theme.
The innovation in the 2016 Mlada Vilenica international award is its visual aspect: the young poets may add visual elements to their poems, complementing the written words with images. The concept of adding a visual element to the competition is so that children and youth, young authors, writers of poetic texts, can step for a moment out of the textual sphere of poems and explore the sphere of shapes and colours, combining the dynamics of the text with visual work that complements the written word with sense and integrity.