2nd Krakow Meetings of Poets
Poetry - Between Song and Prayer

In 1997 the Krakow 2000 Festival prepared a series of events under the patronage of the two laureates of the Nobel Prize for Literature connected with our city: Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz. The culmination of the Year of Poetry was the autumn Meeting of Poets of East and West which became a great literary event as well as a huge media and interest success. This extraordinary experience proved something that is not actually evident in the days of advanced technologies and societies fascinated with media many times faster than the printed word. Nevertheless, it did turn out that, in today’s world, good poetry is capable of attracting crowds, that young people are willing to queue for a long while to have the autograph of the favourite author signed in their book, and that when it is difficult to find a true authority, men of letters have maintained their credibility. The long queues to the authors stretched well into Krakow’s Market Square and must have been shown by all major television stations, and the Słowacki Theatre, as well as other places where meetings and presentations took place virtually brimmed with people. It suddenly turned out that there is something that good literature lacks: and that it is not the power to communicate but rather the potential to reach its recipient, flooded by the masses of opportunities offered by the powers of the tough competition actively operating in the market.

This year’s Second Krakow Meeting of Poets will enjoy the presence of some of the Polish and foreign guests who were invited for the First Meeting, their number naturally including Krakow’s Nobel-prize winners: Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz. There will also be authors very-well known to the readers: Adam Zagajewski and Robert Haas. This time Haas will be accompanied by two American poets: Jane Hirshfield and Joy Harjo. The presence of the representatives of the British Isles is worth turning the attention to: there will be Dannie Abse from Wales, and another laureate of world’s most famous literary prize - Seamus Heaney from Ireland. A novelty in the Meetings is also the arrival of two poets from Asia: Bei Dao from China and Ko Un from Korea. Ales Debeljak from Slovenia, Admiel Kosman from Israel, and Reiner Kunze from Germany complete the circle of poets who represent the countries not present in Krakow three years ago. Among the celebrated foreign guests invited there are Russian poets Sergei Stratanowski and Elena Shvarts, and Marcelijus Martinajtis from Lithuania. The event will also be an opportunity to meet many of the most important Polish contemporary poets. Apart from those already mentioned, there will be Jerzy Ficowski, Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar, Ewa Lipska, Leszek Aleksander Moczulski, and Jan Twardowski.

The Meetings will be presented in a highly attractive form: for four days, the authors will be busy signing books, visiting, and discussing; they will spend their evenings in the beautiful interiors of St Catherine’s Church and Tempel Synagogue on poetry and music performed both by artists from Krakow: Beata Rybotycka, Grzegorz Turnau, and Elżbieta Towarnicka performing on the Evening One (10th November) in the concert of L. A. Moczulski’s songs, and by guests of the Meeting. Liam O’Flynn is coming from Ireland to accompany Seamus Heaney with his music, and Lurline McGregor (USA) will be performing with Joy Harjo. Playing during the closing ceremony in the Stary Theatre will be Tomasz Stańko: it is difficult not to consider his participation in symbolic categories, as three years ago the performance of the famous trumpeter was one of the most memorable events of the first Meeting.

Not more than several days later, from 16th to 19th November, Krakow will host the representatives of the youngest Polish poets during the Festival of Promising...


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