Book launches and new publications at East of Culture – Different Sounds 2018

Mykola Riabczuk’s lecture about difficult love, literature, Eastern Europe and “Real Europe”, debates about Ukraine, the most recent literature from Eastern European countries and translations and dilemmas of translators. Book launches and discussions with authors. This is what awaits us at this year’s Eastern Express – a series of meetings with writers, artists and intellectuals from Eastern European countries and a publication series of Workshops of Culture associated with East of Culture – Different Sounds (Lublin, 28 June – 1 July 2018).

One of the major obstacles in developing intercultural cooperation and overcoming stereotypes about the cultures of Eastern European countries is language barrier. Most of all, it affects the reception of literature. In this context, it is especially important to maintain a good flow of the current thought, commentary and literature translated to national languages. Such a role is fulfilled by Eastern Express established in Workshops of Culture which for the past several years has been introducing recent poetry and prose from Eastern Partnership countries to Poland.

This year at Eastern Express we want to focus on the contexts of Ukrainian and Belarusian literature. The publications of Eastern Express have expanded with 6 new books:

Kateryna Babkina “Sonia”

The Polish translation of the novel Соня published in Ukraine in 2013 and nominated to the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year award 2013.

The story of the young woman, Sonia, shows that readiness to motherhood does not always come with pregnancy. The protagonist finds herself in a crisis and goes on a journey to meet the father she’s never met, believing that it will help her find her own identity and establish a better bond with her child in the future. But journeys don’t always bring the sort of solutions we want. It is an unpredictable story, full of twists and turns and often magical descriptions possibly resulting from Sonia’s blessed state.

Andrij Lubka “Pokój do smutku”

The Polish translation of the short story collection Кімната для печалі published in Ukraine in 2016 and nominated to the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year Award 2016.

This collection of stories features an empty room as the protagonist. Each story told is a stand-alone study of loneliness and sadness. Metaphorically speaking, empty room means melancholy that attacks a person in a hotel, abandoned house, orthodox church, orphanage but also on a sunny beach. The protagonists of Lyubka’s stories restore a romantic perception of the world – they live in their own imaginations and feelings in which they seek shelter from everyday reality.

Halyna Kruk “Wakacje nad Letą”

A selection of poems translated by Bohdan Zadura. This is the first volume of Halyna Kruk’s poems published in Poland.

“Wakacje nad Letą” is metqphysical poetry in which the poet comes to terms with mortal life. Human nature tends to assign permanent identity to things and people, while in reality everything goes through constant changes. The poet claims that only by breaking with what we know and are used to can we remain authentic. Regardless of everything, the end that mercilessly breaks what is seemingly unbreakable still comes and this is why “life is really what / we’ve lost”.

Julia Cimafiejewa “Cyrk i inne wiersze”

Selection of poems and translation by Bohdan Zadura.

Julia Cimafiejewa offers emotional poetry in which concise poems strengthen the dynamics and intensity of imagery. The metaphor of the wandering circus with a procession of characters and events reflects a sense of existential chaos. The volume is filled with a dream of abandoning all forms of existence and created “Is”. At the same it, it is an expression of postmodernist suspicion towards the cognitive value of language and symbols – sensual experience of self and the world wins with the rationality of the brain. Despite everything, Cimafiejewa’s poetry does not have catastrophic visions of culture, but vitality and affirmation of life.

Oleksandr Bojczenko “Wasi, nasi oraz inni”

“Wasi, nasi oraz inni” is a collection of essays in which Oleksandr Bojczenko “traces” the successors of the first European intellectual – Socrates whose literary presences is a testimony to society’s maturity and at the same time, an expression of its conscience. So then, who are the contemporary wise men of literature? Wasi / Yours – are the writer’s thoughts about Polish writers, including Gombrowicz, Kołakowski, Herling-Grudziński, Herbert; nasi (ours) are a reflection on Ukrainian literature, especially the first literary generation of “recovered voices”; inni (others) stands for Russian culture.

Mykola Riabczuk “Poprzednie życie”

The Polish translation of a selection of articles by Mykola Riabczuk – Ukrainian literary critic, publicist and poet.

“In Ukraine, Riabchuk presents bold and innovative ideas (…). He dares to break national myths, and enlivens narration owing to his intelligent sense of humour, which doubles the desire to read his work. Irony and freedom which characterize his writing bring to mind famous Polish writers.    Riabchuk goes beyond traditional writing categories and stereotypes. The portrait of Ukraine he presents in his books is pessimistic and disturbing. But the very fact that a spirit as free and intelligent as him exists in Ukraine gives a good reason not to lose hope”.
Alen Besançon, introduction to “De la ‚Petite Russie’ à l’Ukraine


Thursday, 28 June

16.30-17.30 Eastern Express – inauguration
Mykola Riabczuk’s opening lecture “Unrequited love. A few words about literature, Eastern Europe, “Real Europe” and other less important matters”.
Where: The Old Theatre in Lublin, Jezuicka 18

18.15-18.30 Eastern Literary Courier
Where are we now and where are we headed: upcoming book releases and an overview of new publications on Eastern European topics
Agnieszka Wojciechowska, Paulina Janczylik
Where: Próba Cafe – patio, Grodzka 5a

18.30-20.30 Book launches: ”Oleksandr Bojczenko’s “Wasi, nasi oraz inni” and Mykola Riabczuk’s “Poprzednie życie”
discussion, reading book excerpts
. Panelists: Oleksandr Bojczenko, Mykola Riabczuk, Natalka Bilocerkivec, Andrij Saweneć and Bohdan Zadura. Moderators – Grażyna Lutosławska, Aleksandra Zińczuk
Where: Próba Cafe – patio, Grodzka 5a

Friday, 29 June

15.00-16.30 “The dilemmas of the second author. I write, you translate, they read…”
A debate featuring writers and translators: Oleksandr Bojczenko, Julia Cimofiejewa, Mykola Riabczuk, Natalia Bryżko-Zapór, Bohdan Zadura. Moderator – Andrij Saweneć.

Where: Workshops of Culture, Grodzka 7 –patio

 18.00-19.30 Book launches: ”Sonia” by Kateryna Babkina and “Pokój do smutku” by Andrij Lubka
Overview of the books, reading excerpts and a discussion with the authors. Moderators – Andrzej Niewiadomski, Mykola Riabczuk
Where: Próba Café- patio

Saturday, 30 June

15.00-16.30 “What kind of Ukraine, what kind of Europe?”
A debate featuring Kateryna Babkina, Halyna Kruk, Andrij Lubka. Moderator – Andrij Saweneć , o.Tomasz Dostatni OP
Where: Workshops of Culture, Grodzka 7 – patio

18.00-19.30 Book launches: Halyna Kruk’s “Wakacje nad Letą” and Julia Cimafiejewa’s “Cyrk i inne wiersze” and poetry reading
: Julia Cimafiejewa, Halyna Kruk. Discussion – Bohdan Zadura, Andrzej Niewiadomski. Moderator – Łukasz Janicki
Where: Próba Cafe – patio


Kateryna Babkina (b.1985 in Ivano-Frankivsk) – is a well-known Ukrainian writer, journalist and screenwriter. She has published volumes of poetry (“St.Elmo’s Fires”, 2002), the novel “Sonia” (nominated for the Ukrainian BBC Book of the Year award 2013), a collection of short stories and books for children, including one dedicated to children with cancer. She also writes movie scripts (a short film based on Kateryna’s books was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016) and a play – “Hamlet Babylon” that was performed in Kiev and Geneva. Her books have been translated into English, Czech, French, Spanish, German, Swedish, Romanian and Russian; in June her works were translated into Hebrew for the first time. The collection “Happy Naked People”(published in Ukraine in 2016) was translated into Polish and published by Workshops of Culture in 2017. It was the author’s first book published in Poland.

Andrij Lubka (b.1987 in Riga) – one of the most interesting Ukrainian writers of the young generation, poet, prose writer, essayist, translator, columnist, social activist. Winner of the literary awards “Debut” (2007) and “Kyiv Lawry” (2011), a fellow of the Gaude Polonia Scholarship granted by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Poland (2010, 2012). He has taken part in literary festivals all over the world – from Rio de Janeiro to Istanbul. His works have been translated into Polish, German, English, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Czech, Serbian, Macedonian, Lithuanian, Slovak and Turkish. In 2017, he was nominated for the Angelus Central European Literature Award for “Karbid”. The short story collection ”Pokój do smutku” brought him the Kowaliwów Award (USA) for Prose. One of the short stories in this collection has been made into a film.

Halyna Kruk (b. 1974 in Lviv) – writer, translator, scriptwriter, literature historian. She is the author of five poetry books – “Journeys in Search of a Home”, “Footprints on Sand” (both 1997), “The Face beyond the Photograph” (2005), “Co(an)existence” (2013) and “An Adult Woman” (2017). Her poems and pieces have been included in numerous anthologies and translated into many languages. She has written 5 books for children, two of which have been published in 15 languages (as part of the international children’s project “Step by Step”). She translates other works from Polish, Belarusian and Russian (she has published, among others, Kazimierz Wierzyński’s poems, Stanisław Lem’s “Mystery of the Chinese Room”, Wojciech Górecki’s “A toast to our ancestors”). Winner of several international literary contest, a fellow of Gaude Polonia Scholarship granted by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (2003, 2010) and Villa Decius Homines Urbani in Cracow (2005) as well as the Baltic Centre of Writers and Translators in Gotland (Sweden, 2007, 2018). She is the vice chairwoman of the Ukrainian PEN Club. She lives in Lviv and teaches at Lviv University.

Julia Cimafiejewa (b.1982) – studied English at Minsk State Linguistic University and was awarded an M.A. in literary studies at Belarusian State University. She’s an English language translator. The author of poetry volumes and poetry translations “Księga Błędów” (2014) and the poetry volume “Cyrk” (2016). Co-founder and editor of the Internet literary magazine “PrajdziSvet”.  Her works and translations have been published in many Belarusian magazines and her poems have been translated into English, Lithuanian, Swedish, Slovene, Czech and Ukrainian. She has won the “Exlibris” Competition for Young Writers organized by the Belarusian Writers’ Union. Her “Księga Błędów” was shortlisted for the Debut Prize. In 2018, along with two other translators, she received the Debut Prize for her translation of Charles Bukowski’s work. She participated in Nordic Summer Festival of Literature (Lithuania, 2014), Central-European Literary Festival Vilenica (Slovenia, 2016), “Kyiv Lawry” (“Kiev Laurels”) poetry festival (Ukraine, 2017), Stranou festival (the Czech Republic, 2017), Poetry Festival “Poems on Pavement: (Belarus, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018). She was a resident of the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators (2013, 2017). She lives in Minsk.

Oleksandr Bojczenko (b.1970) – Ukrainian literary critic and academic, essayist, translator, columnist. Author of collections of essays: “Something like Chautauqua” (2003), “Chautauqua Plus” (2004), “To book”(2011), “”My own among strangers” (2011), “50 percent wrong” (2015). Moreover, he has translated numerous works from Polish and Russian, including Tadeusz Borowski, Leszek Kołakowski, Marek Hłasko, Jerzy Pilch, Olga Tokarczuk, Andrzej Stasiuk, Daniel Odija. A fellow of Gaude Polonia Scholarship granted by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Poland (2005, 2008, 2013). In 2014, he was awarded a Medal for Merits to the Polish Culture.

Mykola Riabczuk (b. 1953 in Lutsk) – graduate of Lviv Polytechnic National University and M.Gorki Literature Institute in Moscow. He was the deputy editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine “Wseswit” and the vice editor of the magazine “Krytyka”. Several translations of his books were published in Poland, including: “Od Malorusije do Ukrajine” (2002), “Dwie Ukrainy” (2004, second edition:2006), “Ogród Metternicha” (2011), “Ukraina. Syndrom postkolonialny” (2015). A winner of Pocul Foundation Award, the award of the literary quarterly “Akcent”. He has also been granted the badge of honour “Bene Merito” by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland for working towards good Polish-Ukrainian relations. Currently, he is the chairman of the Ukrainian PEN Club and a juror of the Angelus Central European Literature Award. He is an associate of the Institute of Political and Ethno-national Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, guest lectures at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv and at the Centre for East European Studies at the University of Warsaw.