The eighth edition of the Mountains of Literature Festival will take place between 13 and 21 July 2022 in, among others, Nowa Ruda, Ludwikowice Kłodzkie, Radków, Sarny Castle, Książ Castle and Sokołowsko.
Our Festival was created in 2015 on the initiative of Olga Tokarczuk. The writer, who lives in the vicinity of Nowa Ruda, initiated a unique literary and social event, the main goals of which from the very beginning are: cultural and civic activation of the residents, cultural education, diagnoses and discussions on environmental protection, equal rights, identity, freedom of speech, German, Czech and Polish cultural heritage, transborder cooperation and sustainable development of the region through culture.
The central idea of this year’s festival was at first inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin. In 1986, in the text entitled “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction”, the writer referred to the intuition and concepts according to which the memory of the development of humanity continually cultivated through the history of creating and using tools of violence – bones, spears, an axe – is an intellectual fraud. According to Le Guin, the foundation of the origins of civilisation is a basket, bag and net – containers in which we collect useful things, which we then carry home – according to his concept, a yet another, bigger bag – and use ourselves or share with others. Apart from various values and inspirations of that idea, we can notice in it also a resolute attempt to debunk the still dominating narrative: shifting the focus of the founding myth of humanity from the Man-Hero to the Human Being-Gatherer. Which allows also for a different look at the stereotype of the woman. The contemptuous, yet still present image of “a woman with heavy bags” changes its character. It becomes a story about the true beginning and sources of humanity. After reading “Empuzjon”, the latest novel by our Founder, we can add many more elements to this still binding catalogue of falsehood.
That is why we have two mottos this year – words from Ursula K. Le Guin’s text mentioned above: “Still there are seeds to be gathered, and room in the bag of stars.”, and a quote from Olga Tokarczuk’s Nobel lecture: “When the story changes, so does the world” – an idea which became the motto of the Olga Tokarczuk Foundation.
Thinking about a programme which would inspire reflection upon thus presented problems, we were aware that some political and social events in Poland and Europe also demand a strong reaction: all those dangerous phenomena described by notions which shouldn’t be a part of the dictionary of a contemporary European anymore: racism, nationalism, xenophobia, intolerance, breaking of fundamental rights. So we thought we would find room for debates on the rule of law and freedom of speech, we would discuss various models of protest, we would gather stories of the residents, we would design the future, diagnose threats and define changes, we would consider the notion of identity. Using the example of the Benelux countries, we would also return the founding idea of the values of the European Union, talk about coexisting multiethnicity and multilingualism. We would also refer to current events which seemed to get out of control – most of all, the crisis on the Polish-Belarussian border. We would try to strengthen the European identity of the residents of the region and Poland.
And when it seemed that the ideas behind this year’s festival were beginning to materialize in concrete programme proposals, the war broke out. Russian aggression against Ukraine, aiming at annihilating a free country, our neighbour, forced us to change our optics. For obvious reasons, we’ve reserved a special place during the Festival for Ukrainian artists and Ukrainian literature. We believe that the time we devote to the culture and history of Ukraine will also be the time for reflection on Europe and its future.
But regardless of the many upheavals which have shaken the world in the last year, we would still – and maybe even more – like the Festival to become a huge basket. Thanks to authors, artists and scientists, we will gather seeds of many ideas extremely important in the contemporary world and we will share them with the participants. We also hope that the festival’s audience will not only take advantage of what we prepare for them and take with them what seems useful to them, but will also sow new seeds in our basket. And those seeds will be changing the world for the better. More loyal, more equal, more just.
After seven editions of the Festival, we can say that it created a unique on the scale of Poland interest and mass participation of both the local audience, as well as guests coming from around Poland or watching Festival transmissions online. We hope that this year’s edition will strengthen, among our audience, the pro-freedom, pro-European, pro-ecological and pro-equality attitudes, that it will continue to develop cultural, civic and artistic competences. And that it will fight any form of social exclusion.
We will do our best to maintain a balance between discussing global problems and the local character of the event. As it is this very balance that made Mountains of Literature Festival a unique event on the map of the literary festivals in Poland.
In cooperation with several dozen partners, we’ve planned almost 100 events. Among our guests, there will be: the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn, Kateryna Babkina, Adam Bodnar, Jacek Dukaj, Richard Flanagan, Agnieszka Graff, Manuela Gretkowska, Michał Heller, Agnieszka Holland, Zbigniew Hołdys, Tanya Malyarchuk, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, Michał Rusinek, Agnieszka Szpila, Magdalena Środa, Frank Westerman, Oksana Zabuzhko, Jakub Żulczyk, Olga Tokarczuk and her “Empuzjon” – as well as over 100 other guests.
There will be concerts by: Dagadana, Zofia Hanna and Mathias Coppens, MyLudove, Natalia Przybysz, Hania Rani, Raz Dwa Trzy, Sutari and The Plastic People of the Universe.
Olga Tokarczuk Foundation Team