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Participants of the literary event „Open House in Visby“

Halyna Kruk, special guest from Ukraine.
Halyna Kruk is a poet, translator, and children’s book writer from Lviv. She is an author of five poetry books, the latest – An Adult Women, 2017. She has been published widely in literary journals and won two Ukrainian literary awards. Her poems were translated into more than 20 languages. In 2003 she won the Step by Step international competition for children’s books. Her Marko Travels Around the World and The Littlest One have been translated into 15 languages. She is a vice-president of the Ukrainian PEN and a professor of literary studies at Lviv National University.

Malin Kivelä, Society of Swedish Authors in Finland.
Malin Kivelä (b. 1974) is a Finland-Swedish author born and based in Helsinki. She has published three acclaimed novels as well as books for children and plays. Her works have been translated into Finnish, Danish and Russian. She is looking for ways to describe the unspeakable and face the uncomfortable. She is currently working on her fourth novel which is to be published in 2019.

Henning Brüllhoff, Swedish Writers’ Union.
Henning Brüllhoff (born in 1973) grew up i Huddinge south of Stockholm and has attended several courses in fiction writing, among them two years at Nordens folkhögskola at Biskops-Arnö. He has also been a teacher of fictional writing at Folkuniversitetet in Stockholm. At present he combines his writing with work as a professional communicator at Stockholm university. In 2016 he won Katapultpriset for his debut novel, Allt jag begär.

Veronika Kivisilla, Estonian Writers’ Union.
Veronika Kivisilla is a poet, storyteller and bard. Kivisilla has compiled textbooks and songbooks; organized literary festivals and numerous events. A musician, she has performed in medieval- and folk-music ensembles. Veronika Kivisilla made her debut in 2011 and has so far published three collections of poetry.  Her poetry conveys the image of an author, whose humour takes note of small but important everyday details, and who rejoices in the world around us in a rich, enchanting language. Kivisilla’s 2015 collection “Cantus firmus“ was nominated for the best poetry book by the Estonian Cultural Endowment. She has performed her poetry at various festivals abroad, in Helsinki, Visby, Zagreb, London, Warsaw and also in the poetry portal.

Sirpa Kähkönen, Finnish Writers Union.
Sirpa Kähkönen is well known about her historical novels. She is above all an exceptional portrayer of women and children, their challenges and experiences, and the life of civilians in a time of crisis. Kähkönen also writes plays and non-ficton. Sirpa Kähkönen has been shortlisted for both Nordic Council Literature Prize and The Finlandia Prize with her novels. Kähkönen is currently the President of The Union of Finnish Writers.

Egīls Venters, Latvian Writers Union.
Latvian prose writer Egīls Venters (1964) will attend the reading, and read a fragment in English of his novel. Egīls Venters is also a member of the Latvian Writers’ Union board. His debut was a collection of short stories „Melnā sērija”/ Black Series (1992), followed by a collection of novellas „Melanholijas skaidrojošā vārdnīca”/ The Dictionary of Melancholia (2000), followed by the novels Āgenskalns (2004), and Radio Luxembourg (2007). Novel “Mainīgā intervence”/ Changing Intervention (2012) was nominated for Latvian Literature Award 2013. It received Dz. Sodums prize for innovations in literature 2013. The latest collection of short stories Poseidona galva/ The Head of Poseidon was published in 2017. There has also been published a collection of essays Zemeslēkts/ Earth-rise (2010).

Antanas A. Jonynas, Lithuanian Writers Union.
Antanas A. Jonynas is a poet and translator who was born in Vilnius in 1953. He graduated Vilnius University with a degree in Lithuanian language and literature. He worked for almost twenty years as an editor for the publisher Vaga, then two years as a moderator for a TV show on culture. From 2011-2018, Jonynas headed the Lithuanian Writers Union. He is a member of Lithuanian PEN. Jonynas has published seventeen poetry books and has won numerous prizes, including the prestigious Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Art. He has translated poetry, prose, and drama from German, Russian, Latvian and Ukrainian; among his translations is Goethe’s Faust. His own poetry has been translated into twenty languages, more or less, with books published in English, German, Russian, French and Bambaran. He lives as a writer in Vilnius.

Marius Burokas, Lithuanian Writers Union. 
Marius Burokas (b. 1977) is a poet, freelance writer, translator and editor-in-chief of online magazine of Lithuanian literature “Vilnius Review”. He is the author of three poetry books (the most recent I‘ve Learned Not To Be (Išmokau nebūti) was published in 2011). His fourth poetry book “of clean being” (švaraus buvimo) is forthcoming in 2018. His selected poetry book in English “Now I Understand” was published by “Parthian Books” in 2018. His poetry has been translated into Polish, Russian, Slovenian, English, German, French, Ukrainian and other languages. Marius Burokas translated poetry of American, Canadian, Australian poets and others (Charles Simic, Walter S. Merwin, William Carlos Williams, Charles Bukowski, Ted Hughes, Alan Ginsberg, etc.).

Kazimiera Astratovienė, The Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators.
Kazimiera Astratovienė (b. 1981) is a literary translator, writer from Vilnius. She graduated Vilnius University with a degree in Lithuanian language and literature. She is a member of The Lithuanian Association of literary translators, as a Board member of the Association in 2012–2016 she coordinated many of its cultural and literary projects. She published her poetry, interviews with literary translators and articles about translation in literary magazines. Her first novel „Seven generations“ (Septynios kartos) was published in 2016 and won a literary award for the best fiction book of a young writer. She is a Chair of Baltic Writers Council since 2015.


Date: Saturday 21st April, 2018
Venue: Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators
18.00-18.10 Opening words by Lena Pasternak (Sweden), director of the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, and Kazimiera Astratoviene (Lithuania), chair of the Baltic Writers’ Council.
18.15–18.30 Key-note: Halyna Kruk (Ukraine): “Last trends in contemporary Ukrainian literature: art and human experiences of war”.
18.30–19.30 Readings:
18.30–18.45 Veronika Kivisilla (Estonia)
18.45–18.55 Henning Brüllhoff (Sweden)
18.55–19.05 Sirpa Kähkönen (Finland)
19.05–19.15 Egīls Venters (Latvia)
19.15–19.30 Antanas A. Jonynas (Lithuania)
19.30–20.00 Break with refreshments
20.00–20.40 Readings continue:
20.00–20.10 Marius Burokas (Lithuania)
20.10–20.20 Kazimiera Astratovienė (Lithuania)
20.20–20.30 Malin Kivelä (Finland)
20.30–20.40 Halyna Kruk (Ukraine)
21.00 Dinner

Moderator – Lena Pasternak
Arranged by Baltic Writers’ Council and Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators
Supported by The Association of Finnish Non-fiction Writers, The Society of Swedish Authors in Finland and The Union of Finnish Writers


Saturday April 21st
10.00-16.00 Meeting with a lunch break
• Opening of the General Assembly. Short presentation of every participant.
• Approval of the Agenda.
• Election of the chairperson and the secretary of the GA.
• Activity report by Kazimiera Astratovienė, the chair of BWC.
• Organizing literary event „Open House in Visby“: finding strengh and support inside BWC.
• Membership questions. Membership fee for the following year. Ukraine‘s possible membership in BWC.
• BCWT news by Lena Pasternak, director of BCWT.
• Reports from member-organizations (each report max. 5 min).
Sunday April 22nd
10.00-13.00 Meeting
• Treasurer’s report by Mudite Treimane the Treasurer of BWC.
• Auditor’s report.
• Reports from member-organizations continues.
• Reports continue.
• Election of the BWC Board members: Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen (retiring by rotation), Mudite Treimane (retiring by rotation).
• Election of an auditor.
• Other issues.
• Date of the next GA.
• Closing the GA.

Baltic Writers Council (BWC), General Assembly 2017

Time and place: 28–29 April 2017, Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, Uddens gränd 3, 621 56 Visby, Sweden.
The following representatives of organisations were present: Swedish Writers’ Union (Viveka Sjögren), The Union of Finnish Writers (Jyrki Vainonen, Hannu Niklander), Society of Swedish Writes in Finland (Malin Kivelä), The Finnish Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers (Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen), Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators (Kazimiera Astratoviene), Lithuanian Writers’ Union (Marius Burokas), Estonian Writers’ Union (Tiit Aleksejev, Piret Viires) Latvian Writers’ Union (Mudite Treimane), Association of Polish Writers (Bogdan Baran), Polish Assciation of Literary Translators (Justyna Czechowska), The Union of Belarusian Writers (Aliaksandra Dvaretskaya). Lena Pasternak was representing the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators.
1. The Chairperson of BWC Kazimiera Astratoviene opened the meeting at 13:00 on Friday April 28th 2017. The participants of the meeting shortly presented themselves.
2. The Agenda of the meeting was approved by the Assembly.
3. Kazimiera Astratoviene was elected chairperson for the meeting, Piret Viires was elected secretary.
4. The Chairperson of the BWC, Kazimiera Astratoviene, presented the activity report for BWC, for the year of 2016:
“Last year BWC had an extended GA on 22nd–24th of April, it took place in Visby. The meeting began with a cultural event organized by the Baltic Writers Council and the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators.
The name and the theme of the event was “Literary Encounters in Europe: Them and Us”, it took place in the Almadalen Library and included discussions on burning topics and readings of poetry, prose and non-fiction.
It was decided to invite Stina Oscarson, Swedish dramatic, author and social commentator as a key-note speaker, she delivered a speech on a topic “Can culture prevent violence?”
For the first time there was a non-fiction session organized: journalist and foreign correspondent Stig Fredrikson discussed the topic “Russia and the border states today” together with editor Kalle Kniivilä, and Russian journalist and academic Artemy Troitsky. The whole program of the event can be found on the website of BWC so I will not go into further details. But I would like to once more thank all the participants and those who helped with a preparation of the event or the fund raising.
From my point of view, that the event was a successful and inspiring one and the main reason for that was a collaboration between the Baltic Writers Council and Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators. And the contribution of the Finnish Assocation of Non-Fiction Writers was essential. It is also important to note that we had a Campus Gotland University as our partner.
Applications for seminar funding were sent to the Nordic Cultural Fund, Swedish-finnish culture fund (Svenska kulturfonden), Finnish Art Promoting Centre (Taike) and Swedish Writers’ Union. Finnish Art Promoting Centre provided us 2000 euro, Nordic Cultural Fund, Swedish-Finnish culture fund and Swedish Writers’ Union didn’t grant us. Besides, Campus Gotland Uppsala University granted us 10 000 Swedish Crowns and Non-fiction Promotion Centre Finland paid the costs of the non-fiction session “Russia and the Boder States Today” (approx. 1600 euros).
So the whole event costed about 36 thousand Swedish crowns, and we used 18 thousand from the budget of BWC.
After the event, on 23rd–24th of April, the General Assembly of 2016 for the Baltic Writers Council was arranged. 14 persons representing 11 organisations from 7 countries took part in the meeting.
Last year Ukrainian writers were willing to join BWC but it was impossible due to their organization status, so me and Marius Burokas from the Lithuanian Writers Union were looking for different possibilities to help them in changing the status in order to become members. Also we made some investigation looking for other organizations in Ukraine suitable to become members. Sadly, without any results. It only seems possible to have Ukrainians as invited guests during the readings or a seminar arranged as part of cultural event (maybe even next year.)”
The GA approved the report.
5. Discussion about the extended GA 2018: what is our plan for the next year?
The participants of the GA discussed about the possible literary event in 2018. Kazimiera Astratoviene pointed that it is big challenge for a board to organize big literary events with no secured funding. After the discussion it was decided that in 2018 a smaller literary event will be organised, readings in the venue of Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, preliminary title of it will be “Open House”. The event will be organised jointly by BWC and BCWT. BWC board tries to get some extra funding and invite performers from Ukraine. BWC member organisations are asked to send poets and readers to the event and cover their costs. GA decided that the details of the event, organising and funding should be the responsibility of the board.
Coffee break
The GA continued at 14.50.
6. Travel fund as a help for the members of BWC. The GA decided to create a travel fund as a possibility to apply for a grant to participate in the GA. The details of the creating the fund and the application procedure were left to decide for the board.
7. Membership questions. The GA decided that the membership fee is the same as previous years, 150 euros. Fortunately there are no late fees, all members have paid.
Discussion about membership of Ukrainian organization. It was decided to invite a member of Ukrainian organization to the literary event “Open House” and then discuss the matter during the GA in 2018.
8. BCWT news by Lena Pasternak, director of BCWT.
During 2016, 192 writers and translators stayed at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators. 25% residents were from Sweden, also Norway, Finland, Estonia, Poland are on the top. 85% residents are from the Baltic Sea region, 15% from the rest of Europe and Africa. There have been translation workshops (e.g. collaboration with Moscow). Other events: Almendalen Week (politicians), workshop for women from East-African countries etc. Collaboration with schools, children are invited to the centre. Open house readings are organised all the year round. Interviews with writers and the aim of these interviews is to publish a book. BWTC is part of international network of European Writers’ and Translation Houses. Co-operation with Estonian Writers Union and German translators fund who issue scholarships for staying in Visby. Swedish Institute supports Serbian writers. Also there is co-operation with Belarus. BWTC is a centre for cultural diplomacy, cultural exchange and a strong actor in opinion building and language developing. The strength of the centre – it is a house built by writers and translators, it is a place to visit for work and contemplation.
9. Reports from member-organizations. The delegates from each organization presented reports. A few reports were left for tomorrow’s session. The delegates were asked to send their reports via e-mail. See Appendix.
The session was ended at about 17.00.
The GA was resumed on Saturday April 29th at 10:00.
10. Teasurer’s report by Mudite Treimane the Treasurer of BWC. The Treasurer Mudite Treimane presented the finances of 2016 and the budget of 2017. The economy is stable, all members have payed membership fee. The cultural event was supported by BWC and Finnish Arts Promoting Centre. The budget for 2017 is 26 000 SEK.
Travel support issue. The representative of Polish Association of Literary Translators Justyna Czechowska had applied for a travel support 200 EUR due to the financial difficulties of her organisation. The GA took a vote (9 for, 0 against, 0 neutral) and decided to grant Justyna Czechowska a travel support of 200 EUR. Justyna Czechowska left the room during the discussion and did not take part in the vote.
11. Auditors report. Justyna Czechowska and Lena Pasternak presented the Auditors report. The auditor found the books in excellent order, finances were used according to the purposes and the board was granted freedom of responsibility.
After hearing the Treasurer’s report and Auditor’s report General Assembly approved unanimously the finances of 2016 and the budget for 2017.
12. Reports from member organizations continued. See Appendix.
The session was ended for lunch break at 13:00
The session was resumed after lunch break at 14:00.
13. Elections.
Election of Baltic Writers Council board members.
Kazimiera Astratoviene (retiring by rotation). Heidi von Wright (retiring by rotation), Yulya Tsimafeyeva (retiring by rotation, cannot continue).
As the result of the elections Kazimiera Astratoviene (Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators) was re-elected to serve as a chairperson of BWC. Piret Viires (Estonian Writers Union) was elected to serve as a secretary of the board and Viveka Sjögren (Swedish Writers Union) was elected as a regular board member.
Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen (The Finnish Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers) is continuing as a vice chairman of BWC and Mudite Treimane (Latvian Writers Union) is continuing as a treasurer.
Election of The Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators board members.
The GA also elected two members to the Board of The Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators. Mudite Treimane and Yulya Tsimafeyeva were elected as board members and Hannu Niklander and Malin Kivelä as substitutes.
Election of Auditors.
Lena Pasternak and Justyna Czechowska were elected auditors.
14. Reports from member organizations continued. See Appendix.
15. Other issues.
The were no other issues to discuss.
16. Date for the next GA was decided to be 20th–22nd April 2018 with a smaller literary event included.
17. The session and GA was ended at 16.00.

Kazimiera Astratoviene              Piret Viires
Chairperson                                       Secretary

Baltic Writers Council (BWC), General Assembly 28–29 April 2017 Country Reports

Finnish Writers’ Union. Jyrki Vainola

Our union has approximately 750 members of Finnish fiction writers writing in Finnish.
The union was founded in 1897, so this year (2017) we’ll celebrate our 120th birthday and has been preparing the festive year throughout 2016.
In March we already had a series of literary nights in five cities in Finland (Tampere, Turku, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Oulu). In each night three different members of our union were discussing their writing and working methods in front of interested public audience. They were interviewed by another member of our union. The nights were a success, we had good and active audience in each city. Before the discussions I, as a president, gave some information of our union to the audience.
As connected to the celebrations, in May we will have a party for our members – every single one of them has been invited – in Helsinki. In May 1897, the first statutes of our union were accepted.
And in October the 10th, which is an official day for Finnish literature and a birthday of Aleksis Kivi, regarded as a founder of Finnish literature in Finnish, a history of our union will be published. It will be a first official history of the union of Finnish writers.
Otherwise, during the last year, our union has been active in defending copyright, and also writers’ right to a fee for performing, lecturing, reading etc.
The Finnish Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers. Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen
The Association awarded a record total of EUR 2.3 million in grants. These grants are financed out of copying fees collected by the Kopiosto Copyright Society. This will remain as the record, because photocopying is declining fast and digital copying is not replacing it. Added to which, pictures and magazines are being copied more than non-fiction books in the digital world.
A course for writers of non-fiction was held for the fifth time. The topics of the six-day training were non-fiction culture in general, non-fiction writing skills, copyrights and publishing agreements, being a non-fiction writer, publishing skills, and digital publication. Training in other subjects was also arranged. The courses in non-fiction books and pictures, and in social media, for example, proved popular.
The Association published an article collection entitled “The textbook in the construction of Finland” describing the changes taking place in Finnish textbooks and providing a picture of the influence of textbooks on the teaching of various subjects. It is
a topical work now that digitalisation is changing the nature of teaching materials. Familiarity with one’s roots is a good springboard for the digital leap.
Now, for the first time, non-fiction books have entered the senior high-school curriculum for Finnish language and literature. The Association produced two book catalogues as an aid for teachers.
One of the catalogues gives recommended reading for the senior high-school. It was published in an edition of 10,000 and distributed to, among others, all teachers of Finnish language and literature. It was also published in digital format on the Association website. The other catalogue gave suggestions for the lower school and pre-school.
Together with the Tammi Publishing House we have launched a writing competition for children’s and teenage non-fiction. Not enough non-fiction is published for them in Finland. The winners will be announced at the Helsinki Book Fair in October 2017.
Commercial companies publish only one third of Finland’s non-fiction. Non-fiction books are also published by educational and research institutions, museums, libraries and archives, the public administration, associations, NGOs and foundations.
There are also many ‘stakeholder publishers’ for whom publishing is not their core business. They nevertheless publish literature that supports this business. An example is the City of Helsinki, which publishes 80 non-fiction books per year; this would be enough to place it in the top 12 list of commercial publishers.
The volume of self publishing is growing and the average quality is improving. Some non-fiction writers have no alternative but to publish their books themselves, because the commercial publishers have reduced their number of titles. Many coaches and consultants are able to sell their books themselves, so they prefer to publish them, too.
Printing costs have fallen dramatically in this age of digitalisation, so the financial potential for publishing at the writer’s expense has improved. Marketing is easy in social media if a book has a clearly-defined target readership.
Parliament almost doubled the sum set aside for fees payable on loans from libraries, to become effective in 2017. It now stands at over EUR 15 million, is on the level of the other Nordic countries and includes loans from teaching and research libraries, too.
Writers earn little. Royalties are small. Hence the need for library lending fees, copying fees and grants. Luckily, quite a few non-fiction writers have a second occupation, as teachers, university lecturers, researchers, journalists, coaches and consultants. The number of freelancers, i.e. self-employed persons, has risen rapidly due to, among other things, the sweeping changes taking place in the media.
Our Association has been involved in many joint book projects preparing for 2017, when Finland celebrates one hundred years as an independent Republic. One project, Kirja-
Suomi 2017 (Book Finland 2017), will continue throughout the year and is aimed primarily at non-fiction. The highlight of the year will be TIETOKIRJA.FI, a non-fiction festival to be held in Helsinki for the sixth time on August 30–31, 2017. Over these two days, the festival will feature more than 100 non-fiction writers and enthusiasts. The events will be open to the public and free.
Together with the book organisations we have been investigating the economic impact of the book sector. Though a small sector, it has a wide influence on the national economy, society and culture.
Thanks to its schools, its general standard of education and know-how, Finland has become a welfare state. Literature has played a major part in this process. But how long will this last? The biggest threat at the moment is the decline in literacy. One 15-year-old boy in eight cannot read sufficiently well to permit access to secondary education. Something is wrong with our education system.
Association of Polish Writers. Bogdan Baran

The Polish Writers’ Association’s tradition refers to the tradition of the Trade Union of Polish Writers established in 1920.
The organisation was suspended during the World War II by Nazis and reactivated in 1945 as the Union of Polish Writers which was suspended by the communist authorities during martial law in 1981 and disbanded in 1983. Majority of prominent writers including the Nobel prize winners Szymborska and Miłosz decided not to join the writers’ organisation of the same name reestablished soon after, not wanting to support the government in this way. They formed in 1984 the illegal organisation under the present name registered in 1989 after the fall of the communist regime.
Our association counts about 900 members and is divided into nine branches in the main towns of Poland.
In 2016 our work was similar as before and consisted in organizing meetings with authors for the broad audience as well as literary symposia. Especially active is the Warsaw Branch in the House of Literature right in the center opposite the Royal Castle.
Our leading project is the Bruno Schulz Literary Prize which we are about to organize in cooperation with Hebrew Writers Association from Israel.
We used to cooperate with the Ministry of Culture but there are some impediments now caused by the political orientation of the Polish right-wing authorities.

Union of Belarusian Writers. Aliaksandra Dvaretskaya

I’d like to start with good news, but I cannot. There is a new wave of political prosecution in Belarus. After the period of semblant liberalization and the beginning of the long-awaited dialogue with democratic countries, again has Belarusian power
started to use violence towards peaceful demonstrators, public activists, and cultural figures, as well as to resort to arrests and beatings of nonviolent resistance participants.
The current systemic economic crisis in Belarus and a number of unpopular legislative measures on the part of the state, the most controversial of which is Decree №3 “About the prevention of social parasitism”, aggravated tensions in society that resulted in mass peaceful protest actions all around the country in February and March.
“Decree №3 “About the prevention of social parasitism” came into force in the beginning of the year. According to the decree if Belarusian citizens don’t work officially they must pay special tax. Considering that the economy of Belarus is in deep crises now there are a lot of unemployed here and a lot of people get law salaries, so they couldn’t pay this tax.
“Decree №3” concerned the interest of the Union of Belarusian writers also. But at the beginning I’ll tell a little about common situation in cultural sphere in my country. I must notice that according to the old Soviet tradition, culture in Belarus is perceived by power only as a tool aimed at attending upon state ideology. If culture does not perform this function, the authorities ignore it or think it is hostile. Therefore, in Belarus, there are two cultures – the state-run one, which is popularized through the state-run mass media, and the independent one, and it polarizes society very much.
As a result there are two writers’ unions in Belarus. One of them – which is ours – was created during the Soviet period, but it strongly supports democratic values, and the other one, which was created by power, is headed by a general of militia and ministers to the authorities. In 2006, our union was deprived of its premises – its building was given to the pro-state union. Also, there were several attempts to liquidate our organization. However, the authorities’ strategy was not successful – the majority of talented and professional authors remained members of our union. Our cooperation with the Swedish Union of Writers has helped very much our exchange of experiences, the professional growth of the union, and the activization of its activity. But it’s not easy to be a member of the Union of Belarusian writers sometimes. We also still have political prisoners in Belarus and although none of them is a writer or our Union member, you know, separate authors and journalists are being prosecuted. There is censorship. We still have problems with book distribution with a governmental monopolist distributor in Belarus. Also the black lists of writers are still in use.
So now I’ll return to “Decree №3”. According the decree, the representatives of the creative unions must not pay this tax. You know, as the Union of Belarusian writers is one of the oldest Belarusian public organization, we were absolutely sure that Unions’ members must not pay anything. But on February there is another Decree №7 came up on the web-site of the Ministry of Culture. There was the list of creative unions in this decree, but there were no place for the Union of Belarusian writers. According this decree, the members of the Union, who work as freelance writers only were automatically included into the number of “parasites” and must pay this tax.
The Union of Belarusian writers reacted this decree immediately and sent protest to the Ministry of Culture. A lot of Belarusian writers also sent their protest to support the Union. Finally the Union of Belarusian writer was included in the list of Belarusian creative unions.
Unfortunately, It wasn’t the first time since the beginning of the year when the Union force to defend not only its rights but the rights of another writers.
Every February Michaś Stralcoŭ International Poetry Festival “Poems on Pavement” is organized there in Minsk by The Union of Belarusian Writers and Belarusian Pen-Center. Poets from different countries as Belarus, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Sweden, Finland etc usually take part in the festival events that traditionally include a poetry slam, literature readings and discussions, book presentations, musical concerts. This year among the foreign guests of the festival was famous Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan. He was in Minsk just to attend a poetry festival but at about two o’clock in the morning, a police patrol broke into his hotel room. Without explaining anything, the police officers took Sergei Zhadan to a jail where he spent the rest of the night in a cell. He was put a stamp in the passport, banning entry to Belarus for an indefinite period and ordered to leave on the basis of a 2015 Russian entry ban that accused him of “involvement in terrorism”. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia have a common list of personae non grate. However, after the official protests from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, from Belarusian independent creative unions (among them was the Union of Belarusian writers also) the Belarusian authorities annulled the ban on entry to Belarus for Zhadan. The decision was taken within hours.
It was in the beginning of February. As I said before the current systemic economic crisis in Belarus and a number of unpopular legislative measures on the part of the state aggravated tensions in society that resulted in mass peaceful protest actions all around the country in the end of February and March.
The answer of the state to this reaction of society, which is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, was about a thousand of arrested persons, hundreds of people condemned according to administrative articles – basically activists of non-state public organizations and journalists. Some of them were sentenced to up to 15 days of arrest, others were fined. Several people were beaten. Mass and brutal arrests are connected to peaceful protests against the tax on unemployment. Dozens of people had been preventively arrested on the eve of celebration of Dzien Voli (Independence Day, anniversary of creation of the Belarusian People’s Republic in 1918, annual and main opposition event in the country). Authorities did not allow the event, but on March 25th thousands of brave people went out to streets in Minsk and some other towns. The regime used brutal force against them. Minsk was full of police and armed special forces. Participants, journalists, human rights activists, observers, and just accidental passersby
were detained. Police was very rude and harsh even with old people and women. Detainees were humiliated, their rights were widely violated.
Unprecedented as for their scale and cruelty repressions were continued by the fabrication of a criminal case according to the Article called “The organization of mass riots” (Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, Article 293, Part 3) against 26 citizens, among whom there are politicians, public activists, distributors of Belarusian-language books whom our Union work with, as well as ordinary citizens. All of them were arrested preventively and had nothing to do with the organization and carrying-out of either previous protest actions, or celebrating of the Freedom Day on March 25th.
The detentions within the framework of the “Case of 26” were implemented violently and reminded of kidnappings by unknown persons in mufti. For a few days, relatives and lawyers had no information on where the prisoners were kept, on their state of health and the reasons of the arrest.
The 26 arrested people are incriminated the preparation and training of persons in order to take part in mass riots, for which they can receive from three to fifteen years of imprisonment. Representatives of Belarusian democratic society considered that this criminal case against these people is of exclusively political character, it is unsubstantiated and its only purpose is to frighten society and to distract its attention from the socially-economic problems in the country.
As about “Decree №3” protests were not useless – the period of time during which a person had to pay the tax has been changed. If a person doesn’t work in 2017, than the tax will have to be paid in 2018. But the decree wasn’t abolished completely.

Estonian Writers’ Union. Tiit Aleksejev

Estonian Writers’ Union considers participation in Baltic Writers’ Council and supporting Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators important issues.
In Estonia the most important breakthrough in 2016 was the expansion of writers’ salaries issued by the state. In 2016 4 writers’ salaries were added to the previous 5. So altogether, the state is providing 8 scholarships for writers and Estonian Writers’ Union added one scholarship. The total number of the grant holders now (1 grant for 3 years, including social security) is 9. In 2017 there is hope that some more scholarships will be added by the state.
In 2016 a competition of novel manuscripts was held. It was a supported by private money, Estonian companies financed the prizes and the work of the jury.
The biggest literary festival in Estonia is HeadRead – it has grown to a significant tradition and takes place in the end of May.
Important actor in Estonian cultural field is the Estonian Cultural Endowment, which is supporting literature, visual arts, music, theatre etc. Cultural Endowment issues also the
most prestigious literary awards. In 2016 more promotion was organised and the nominees of the literary prizes were highlighted in public and media.
As a conclusion, it can be said that literature is doing fine in Estonia. Also Estonian Writers’ Union is doing good and is financially stable and independent.
The Society of Swedish Writers in Finland. Malin Kivelä
There is a Swedish speaking population in Finland of 5,5% and Swedish is the other national language of Finland. This is due to historical reasons: Finland was a part of Sweden for hundreds of years and the ruling language was Swedish.
The Society of Swedish Writers in Finland was founded in 1919, so there will be a 100-year-celebration in 2019, with a historic review being published.
From the start the Society was described as a purely professional union of fiction writers, critics and essayists. The main aim was, and still is, to safeguard the general and economic interests of the Swedish-language writers in Finland and to promote Swedish-language literature in Finland. Problems confronting us at that time, as well as at present, are mostly economical, in addition to questions concerning copyright.
The Society can be joined by a Swedish-language writer in Finland who has published at least two original works of fiction in Swedish. The Society has 190 members today.
There are some questions about whether it would be possible to start accepting writers with other mother tongues than Finnish and Swedish into the Writers’ Societies of our country. It seems difficult at the moment, but alternatives are being discussed.
The situation for authors in Finland is good compared to most other countries. There are state grants of 0.5–5 years to be applied for, as well as private foundations who issue grants. Every Finnish citizen has free basic health care. Still the grant sums are about half of a normal salary, so it is difficult to really live off them. The most important issues for us are contracts between authors and publishers, exercising proper influence on copyright legislation, defending the free lending of books in public libraries and the compensation therefore to the authors (the Public Lending Right-system, PLR), working for more government grants to authors and more and bigger artists’ state pensions, social security for authors and a lower VAT on e-books as well as paper books.
It is of great importance to the writers to have representatives in committees and boards dealing with the topics above – governmental and private ones. The Society is well represented, and also co-operates closely with other similar organisations, such as the Union of Finnish Writers, translators’ and dramatists’ unions and many more, also internationally.
Our long time secretary general and treasurer Merete Jensen is retiring this summer. A new secretary general and treasurer, Johanna Sandberg, has been appointed and she has started to work alongside Merete.

Swedish Writers’ Union. Viveka Sjögren

Copying our basic information from our website:
“About us: The Swedish Writers’ Union is the central professional organization for writers and literary translators in Sweden. The union safeguards the economic and moral interests of the members by defending freedom of expression and of the press, and keeping up to date with copyright stipulations and the laws regulating copyright. The Swedish Writers’ Union promotes the right of the members to a reasonable return on their work by safeguarding their moral rights, seeing to it that their works are not misrepresented or made public in ways not intended by them as authors, by entering into agreements which give the members financial gain and provide for their social security, and by protecting and aiding our members when, in the practice of their profession, they find themselves in conflict with employers, commissioning parties or the authorities.
The Writers’ Union office provides extensive membership services. A member may consult the office for individual help with interpretation and negotiation of contracts and agreements, tax counselling, and other issues specific to the professional activities of writers and translators.
The Writers’ Union provides its members with free negotiation services on agreements and copyright disputes. The Writers’ union may also absorb the litigation expenses incurred in lawsuits, for example relating to freedom of the press, if the executive board considers the dispute to be of interest as a matter of principle.
The Swedish Association of Authors was founded in 1893, and was initially open to all writers. The bylaws were amended, however, during the 1930s, to some extent excluding translators and writers of non-fiction. This led to the founding of Minerva in 1946, the Association for Swedish Writers of Scientific Works and Works of Popular Science; the founding of The Swedish Association of Writers of Juvenile Literature in 1948; and the Swedish Association of Literary Translators in 1954. In 1956, these four associations merged to form the Swedish Central Organization of Free Literary Professionals (FLYCO), and in 1970 this organization was restructured into the present Swedish Writers’ Union.
Today, the Union has approximately 3 000 members. The office has been located in Stockholm, in the “Writers’ House” on Drottninggatan in the city centre, since 1989. The building also houses an international guest apartment with rooms for visiting writers and translators.
International Exchanges
The writers’ unions and organizations in other countries with which The Swedish Writers’ Union co-operates internationally include the Nordic Council of Writers and Translators and the European Writers’ Council.
The Swedish Writers’ Union also has a long history of exchanges with other writers’ and translators’ organizations, and with individual authors. It receives many visits each year from individual writers and delegations of writers from other nations wanting to learn about it’s activities and Swedish cultural policy, and to come into contact with Swedish literature and writers. The Writers’ Union also initiates study visits abroad for Swedish writers and translators.
In the early 1990s, The Swedish Writers’ Union and the other organizations for writers and translators in the countries around the Baltic Sea held a joint two-week seminar entitled “Waves of the Baltic Sea”, as a result of which the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Visby on the island of Gotland in the Baltic came into being. A similar seminar was held a couple of years later with authors and translators around the Black Sea and the Aegean, after which an equivalent centre was established on the island of Rhodes in the Aegean, Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Centre.
WALTIC (Writers’ and Literary Translators’ International Congress), an international congress to manifest “the value of words” was held in Stockholm, Sweden from 29 June to 2 July 2008. Authors, literary translators and scholars from all over the world met during the first WALTIC congress ever. WALTIC was organized by The Swedish Writers’ Union. A second WALTIC was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2010.”
And the information about the International Council, which I represent:
“The Swedish Writers ‘ Union’s international work from 2016 and onward
The international work within the Swedish Writers ‘ Union consists mainly of the following, the International Council (IR) being responsible for some:
• Contact and international cooperation with sister associations in other countries, and “umbrella” associations (other writer’s and translator’s associations as well as the BWTC, NFOR and EWC).
• Cooperation with ICORN and PEN, regarding actions for persecuted writers and translators and other issues such as safeguarding freedom of expression.
• Foreign delegations or single author visits.
• Member meetings and gatherings.
The International Council consists of one chairperson, two representatives from each section, taking turns in attendance and two from the Writer’s Union’s board. The work is assisted by the Secretary of the Writer’s Union.
IR holds meetings twice every semester.
IR receives and acts advisory regarding suggestions for collaborations and arrangements from other organizations, embassies, individual members or others.
IR administers and is responsible for contacts with ICORN, and the guest writers in sanctuary cities.
IR keeps contact with the Arts Council and the Swedish Institute in order to be updated on priorities and ongoing projects and to assist members planning to apply for funds to implement literary projects abroad or exchange projects with other countries.
(It is always ultimately the Swedish Writer’s Union Board that takes the final decision (based upon the preparatory work of the AU, sometimes together with IR) whether to support the individually initiated projects.)
IR holds an “autumn mingle” to which we invite organizations, associations, foundations, foreign embassies, etc. with a common interest in international and literary issues.
IR organizes member gatherings and seminars, both on its own and in collaboration with other sections.
IR collaborates with the Klas the Vylder’s Foundation for immigrant writers. Last year’s laureates were Shora Esmailian, Refik Licina och Anisur Rahman.
IR intends to participate with at least one seminar at the B&B-fair in Gothenburg. (This year our program will be held on another location than the bookfair)
IR along with the secretariat ensures that the Association’s list (located on the SFF home page) of international contacts, stipends and Guest houses both in and outside of Sweden, is kept up to date.”
The main issue at the moment is the presence of Nya Tider at the bookfair. Nya Tider is a right wing extreme populistic magazine with nazist and conspiracy opinions published once a week by AlternaMedia, by publisher Vávra Suk. Taking stand on either bojkotting the Bookfair for letting up place for Nya Tider, or going there to uphold democracy values has become a dividing topic within the community of writers and translators. The Writers’ Union itself has yet not decided in the matter, (So far the Writers’ Centre, some agencies and publishing houses, along with an increasing number writers and translators have decided not to attend.) An alternative bookfair is growing as a result of this, and will take place on other locations, such as Gothenburg University, Gothenburg Museum of World Culture and The Gothenburg Literary House.
And some good news, negotiations about the PLR remuneration have landed in a good increase for each library loan. The agreement : 2018 an increase of 8 öre to 1 krona and 68 öre and 2019 with additional 8 öre to 1 krona and 76 öre. This gives a total PLR 2018
around 163,8 million kronor. 2019: 171,6 million kronor, an increase of 7,8 million kronor compared to 2018.
Additional report of Swedish Writers’ Union’s activities in 2016 sent by Gunnar Ardelius, President of the Swedish Writers’ Union
In accordance with the statutes, the Union is there to protect the writers’ freedom of speech and to strengthen members’ working conditions as writers and translators.
2016 marked the 250th anniversary of the Riksdag introducing press freedom. In February, the Swedish Writers’ Union and the Swedish Publishers’ Association wrote a joint article in the Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet stating that Swedish press freedom must apply whether a text is published in a physical book or in an e-book.
Over the year, updated and modernised agreements have been signed with the publishers Norstedts, Bonniers and Atlas. The Swedish Writers’ Union also directed sharp criticism at the growing player Storytel for its poor agreements and problematic attitude towards copyright, which has attracted a great deal of media attention. The criticism led to an initial meeting with Storytel, and an agreement was made to review the conditions for signing an agreement.
Together with several other cultural organisations, the Swedish Writers’ Union published an article on SVT Opinion about private copying, demanding that companies such as Telia Sonera, Sony Communications and Samsung stop depriving culture creators of the payments to which they are entitled. The outcome of this pressure is that negotiations are now set to begin.
The Swedish Writers’ Union’s previous statement on Stockholm City Library’s unreasonable remuneration to authors led in 2016 to a new agreement from Stockholm City Library, which the Union was involved in drawing up.
The Union’s work over many years to highlight the issue of hate and threats resulted in a report from the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis showing that a large proportion of the membership has been affected. The report attracted wide coverage and the Government announced that in 2017 it would be presenting a national strategy aimed at resolving the problems. The Union has decided to publish a supportive guide that will reach members in late winter/early spring 2017.
Göteborg Book Fair in Gothenburg was turbulent in many ways. The presence of the far-right newspaper Nya Tider prompted extensive debate about freedom of speech within the Union. A demonstration was organised at the book fair in support of freedom of speech. A seminar at the book fair on the translation of controversial words met with criticism and the Swedish Writers’ Union issued a public apology. As a result of this work, the Union is arranging talks to promote an in-depth discussion of the issue.
In autumn 2016, the Union’s Sami working group unveiled a 10-point programme on a trip to Jokkmokk. The initiative was warmly received and a Sami literature centre in Jokkmokk is expected.
The Union raised several objections to the Government’s investment in the LÄSLOV school holiday reading initiative. In an article in DN-debatt, the Union stated that the investment in LÄSLOV is a recognition of a failure in schools. Following the article, Education Minister Gustav Fridolin called a meeting to discuss the criticism.
A demonstration was held outside the Turkish Embassy together with various sister organisations to demand the release of hundreds of Turkish writers and journalists.
The President of the Swedish Writers’ Union took part in a meeting at the Foreign Ministry with Minister Margot Wallström as part of a campaign for the release of Dawit Isaak. The Union’s participation in the support committee will continue in 2017.
A delegation comprising the working committee of the Union’s board visited Moscow in February, and new contacts were established. As a result of the trip, a Swedish-Russian writers’ conference will be held in Visby in 2017.

Latvian Writers’ Union. Mudite Treimane

Latvian Writers’ Union unites 250 poets, prose writers, playwrights, literary scholars, critics and translators. Writers’ Union popularizes and supports Latvian literature and its authors. It arranges different literary events at the premises of the Union. Writers’ Union supports its members’ participation in different literary festivals and programs, readings, conferences, creative workshops.
It has its office also in Liepāja (in Kurzeme region). A regional literary magazine VĀRDS (The Word) is published by Liepāja writers. It co-operates with International Writers’ and Translators’ House or Ventspils House.
Latvian Ministry of Culture supports the membership of Latvian Writers’ Union in 3 international organizations: BWC, EWC and Three Seas.
Latvian Writers’ Union is one of the founding members of ENLIT (European Network for Literary Translation).
A literary magazine DOMUZĪME (Dash) comes out 4 times a year (since 2015, but is not published by Latvian Writers’ Union).
“The Process” is series of readings and talks, which started at the end of 2016 at the premises of Writers’ Union. The aim of readings was to come together regularly for authors to read new texts, to discuss the process of creation and current themes.
Latvian Writers’ Union for the 1st time was the organizer of very popular literary event PROSE READNGS, which goes on for several days in different places in Riga. It is a yearly
festival, taking place at the beginning of December, which has become popular year by year. Latvian writers as well as guest writers of different generations read their latest, unpublished works or fragments of them.
The Annual Latvian Literature Award (LALIGABA) is the most important literary award in Latvia. Each year the award is given to Latvian authors for the best prose and poetry books, the best children’s books, the best translations of foreign literature into Latvian, and the best debut in literature. Each year there is also an award for lifetime achievements. It is organized by Latvian Writers’ Union and Ventspils House.
Latvian Writers’ Union in 2016 organized Poetry festival (the largest literary festival in Latvia) which was supported by State Cultural Endowment and Riga City Council. Presentation of the 6th Poetry disc “Corpus Poesis” (16 poets read their poems) took place on the 1st day of the festival. The festival programme included readings of young poets, poetry slam, classical poetry evenings, master-classes and readings of foreign guests. The programmes were traditional, new and experimental ones, and 30 different events, dedicated to poetry, took place. 16 foreign guests from 7 countries participated in the festival.
The programme Literary Academy (with the support of Latvian Ministry of Culture) continues to give the possibilities to authors – eager to go in for prose, poetry and playwriting – to attend courses, lectures, seminars and master-classes.
The programme of the Academy was carried out by the Writers’ Union and supported by Latvian Ministry of Culture. The activities were taking place at the premises of Writers’ Union. Approximately 300 people had participated in different activities of the Academy. 200 authors had sent in their written works to literary competitions, organized during last year. Approximately 200 authors had taken part in seminars and master-classes.
In 2016 the seminar MATRIS LINGUA took place for the third time for the authors, whose native language was not Latvian.
Activities of Literary Academy took place also in Kurzeme and in Latgale.
When Latvian Literature Centre ceased to exist, Writers’ Union took over part of the Centre’s functions. One of them is the three-year program “Support for Foreign Publishers Publishing Latvian Literature”. The aim of it is to ensure that the best of Latvian prose, poetry, drama, journalism and children’s literature is accessible and known beyond the borders of Latvia. This program is a part of a group of joint activities, which the Latvian Ministry of Culture and State Cultural Endowment finances in cooperation with Latvian Publishers’ Association, Ventspils House and Latvian Writers’ Union. The Program has been developed, organized and administered by Latvian Writers’ Union.
The aim of the Grant Program is to provide financial support to foreign publishers publishing Latvian literature, thereby developing the interest of foreign publishers in Latvian literature and its translations in different languages. More information available in
Latvian Writers’ Union still runs a residency at Dubulti (the seaside resort in Jurmala): a cottage with 11 rooms – both single and double ones for the price of 35.00 EUR. During the summertime all the rooms are occupied. During other months everyone is welcome to Jurmala.
Residency Ventspils House is still popular – not only in Latvia but also abroad.
It continues to cooperate with permanent partners: Pro Helvetia (Switzerland), literary organisation Free Word Centre (London), translators house Looren (Switzerland), BCWT (Visby), Norden. The House has become a member of RECIT (a network of European literary translation centres) and Res Artis (Worldwide Network of Artist Residencies). Ventspils House cooperates with different festivals.
Contacts have been established also with writers’ residence in Finland Villa Sarkia and with a residence Michael King Writers’ Centre in Auckland in New Zealand.
In 2016 different activities had taken place: not only in the House, but also in Ventspils town organized by the House. 18 literary events (concerning literature and translation) were: poetry and prose readings, seminars and concerts with participation of the residents and local writers and artists.
The House has regular cooperation with cultural organizations of Ventspils town and region, Ventspils cultural centre, cultural societies, Ventspils University College and libraries.
Ventspils House continues to promote translation of Latvian literature in other languages and attends Book Fairs in Frankfurt, London, Gothenburg, Bologna.
In addition Ventspils House has organized an award ceremony for two literary events: The Annual Latvian Literature Award and the International Jānis Baltvilks Baltic Sea Region Award, which is the most important literary award for achievements in children’s literature in Latvia.
The Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators. Kazimiera Astratoviene

The Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators started its this year‘s activities with the traditional election of the best translated book of the year. The main criterion for assessing the translated books is the artistic value of the book, and, of course, it’s accurate professional translation. The competition is aimed at helping the readers, libraries and bookshops select the most significant works of world literature, promote
reading. At the same time it is sought to present and popularize the profession of a literary translator.
Pursuing the traditional educational activities and seeking to help literary translators improve their translation skills, seminar on translating movie texts and a movie texts’ translation competition was conducted.
The year 2016 was declared the Year of the literature of Asian Countries. The aim of it is to improve the dissemination of the literature of Asian Countries in Lithuania, to demonstrate the value of this literature to readers, publishers and libraries. In this occasion the competition Noriu versti (or I want to be a translator) has been organized. It was dedicated to the literature of Asian Countries and the participants were offered to translate texts from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Persian, Hindi, Sanskrit and Turkish languages.
As every year, St Jerome Awards were given to a literary translator for his/her translations into the Lithuanian language as well as to a translator from the Lithuanian language. Also, traditionally awards to the editor of fiction and humanitarian literature for his/her lifetime achievements, as well as to a novice translator for the best translation début were presented, as well as the Bičiulių or Friends Award which is given to an individual or an organization for contributing substantially to artistic translation or the profession of a translator during the recent year.
In 2014 Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators celebrated ten years‘ anniversary, on this occasion it started a new project – there was created a collection of literary translators’ portraits in order to call to public attention the creative work of translators and to raise the prestige of the translator’s profession. In years 2015–2016 this collection was exhibited in different libraries of Lithuania. While opening the exhibition in a new place, readings and discussions about good translated literature were organized.
One more bit of news is that The Association started to publish the online magazine called Hieronymus: its aim is to publish most valuable texts of prose and poetry translated from different languages, focus on the most important literary news, also publish interviews with the translators and translation reviews.
It‘s also important to point out, that seeking to help literary translators to improve their negotiation skills and to deepen their knowledge about the copyright law and the authors‘ rights seminars together with lawyers were organized.

Agenda General Assembly April 28-29 2017


Friday April 28th

13.00-17.00 Meeting

  • Opening of the General Assembly. Short presentation of every participant.
  • Approval of the Agenda.
  • Election of the chairperson and secretary of the GA.
  • Activity report by Kazimiera Astratoviene, the Chair of BWC.
  • Discussion about the extended GA 2017: what is our plan for the next year?

15.00 Coffee break

  • Travel fund as a help for the members of BWC.
  • Membership questions. Membership fee for the following year. Possible new members. Non-paying members.
  • BCWT news by Lena Pasternak, director of BCWT.
  • Reports from member-organizations (max. 5 min).

20.00 Dinner


Saturday April 29th

10.00-16.00 Meeting

  • Treasurer’s report by Mudite Treimane the Treasurer of BWC.
  • Auditor’s report.
  • Reports from member-organizations continues.

13.00 Lunch

  • Reports continue.
  • Election of the BWC Board members: Heidi von Wright (retiring by rotation), Yulya Tsimafeyeva (retiring by rotation, cannot continue).
  • Election of two members to the Board of the BCWT. Heidi von Wright and Yulya Tsimafeyeva retiring by rotation.
  • Election of auditor.
  • Other issues.
  • Date of the next GA.
  • Closing the GA.


Baltic Writers Council (BWC) General Assembly 23–24 April 2016 Country Reports

Saint Petersburg Writers’ Union

In the beginning of 2015 we had 426 members. Nowadays we have 450 (including foreign members).

The Chairman since 2002 is Valery Popov.

During the year 2016 an annual literary award called The Gogol Award was distributed.

The Gogol Award was established in 2003 by the St Petersburg Writers’ Union with the support of the Press Committee of the St Petersburg Government. The final event is annually held in May, during the book fair – The St.Petersburg International Book Saloon.

The Gogol Award is sponsored by the Government of St Petersburg and is today 20 000 roubles.

There are three nomination categories:

  1. ”Шинель” (The Overcoat) – prose. 2. ”Вий» (Viy) – fantasy. 3. ”Портрет» (The Portrait) – non-fiction prose.

In the 1st category following books were in the short-list:

  • Alexander Melichov– for his novel ”A Brotherhood of Stone” ,nominated by Limbus  Press Publishers, St Petersburg
  • Daniel Orlov – for his novel ”Sasha Can Hear Airplanes”, nominated by the Zinziver Magazine, Moscow-St Petersburg, ;
  • Vladimir Shpakov –  for his prose collection ”Iron Renessaince”,  nominated by the Russkiy Text Foundation, St Petersburg.

In the 2nd category following books were nominated:

  • Olga Anikina – for her novel ”A Body from Nowhere”
  • Jury Arabov –  for his novel ”A Collision with a Butterfly”
  • Yelena Kuzmina – for her collection of prose ”My Little Bells”.

In the 3d category the following books were nominated:

  • Valery Popov –  for his book ”Zoshchenko”,
  • Andrey Baldin, for his essay on Leo Tolstoy in Caucausus
  • Nikita Yeliseev, for his literary critical essays ”Against the Rules” nominated by Gelikon Plus Publishers, St.Petersburg.

The final jury in 2015 consisted of Boris Averin, Yevgeny Vodolazkin and Pavel Krusanov.

The winners in 2016 were Daniel Orlov, Jury Arabov and Valery Popov.

Another notable annual event is the literary festival ”Bridges of Saint Petersburg” arranged by poet Galina Ilyukhina. Nowadays it is held not only in spring but also in autumn. It attracts a lot of poets, prosaists, publishers – and readers.

We do not have any ”metro poetry” in the subway, but in 2015 an interesting event was arranged in the famous street car number 40 (the longest tram route of St Petersburg). Poetry readings were held in a tram 40 during an ordinary day. It was much appreciated by the passengers. One of the poets was Alexander Dzhigit who is also well-known for his song arrangements with guitar, together with other poets.

St Petersburg Writers’ Union arranges regurar workshops for young authors, in its house in Zvenigorodskaya street. The prominent writers hold these workshops and seminars free of charge.

Another popular literary circle which is open for everybody is led by the grand old man Vyacheslav Leikin, a ”baroque”, humorous poet and a mentor of many generations. Some of the participants of such workshops become members of St Petersburg Writers’ Union.

Each section of the Union (prose, poetry, translation, drama etc) hold monthly meetings, where different matters are discussed, future members can meet the old members and so on.

Recently some new interesting prosaists applied for membership. Among them is for example Maria Pankevich, born in 1986, a journalist whose debute novel ”The Hormone of Joy” was nominated for a number of prestigious awards on the national level.

At the same time, the Union lost some of the its authors. Maria Rolnikaite died at the age of 88. A Lithuanian Jewish girl who, at the age of 14, became prisoner of Vilnius Ghetto (1941 – 1943), where her mother and siblings perished. Maria survived two concentration camps— Strassenhoff and Stuthoff. Her Holocaust depiction “I Have to Tell” has been translated into 18 languages. Maria Rolnikaite lived many years in Leningrad/ St Petersburg, she spent her summers in Komarovo, where St Petersburg Writers’ Union has got a summer residence for writers.

The annual membership fee is about 10 euros. The Union supports aged and disabled authors econonomically. There is also a contract with one of the best medical centres of the city, where all the members and even their families can get medical care on a regular basis.

One of the most interesting international projects in 2015 was the bilingual prose anthology ”Свобода и судьба» – «Frihed og skæbne» (”Freedom and Destiny”), published in Russian and Danish. 10 authors of St Petersburg and 10 Danish writers participated with 20 short stories. Presentations of the book were held in Copenhagen, in St Petersburg (”Dom Knigi”- ”House of Books”, The Lermontov Library and in other libraries), these days a presentation is held in the library of Viborg. Both Danish and Russian authors have been present, as well as translator Boris Zharov (former head of the Scandinavian Department of the St Petersburg University), the director of Det Danske Kulturinstitut Finn Andersen. An active part in this project belongs also to Jacob Vedelsby, chairman of the Dansk Forfatterforening/ Danish Writers’ Association. The book has been reviewed both in Denmark and in Russia.

St Petersburg Writers’ Accociation is really interested in keeping the contact with the Baltic Council. During the latest years they were prevented from participating, due to financial difficulties (currency changes) and to unsufficient knowledge of English. For many writers of St Petersburg who were once active in the establishing of the Council and were authors-in-residence in Visby in the 90-s the Baltic Centre was of extreme importance as ”The  window to Europe”. The Baltic Region does not exist without the city of St Petersburg and its culture. It is vital to have writers from St Petersburg both on the Council’s meetings and as writers-in-residence, to keep the dialogue going. We hope we can find some solutions for supporting this idea together.

The Activity Report of the Union of Belarusian Writers

Perhaps I will start with the good news. On the 8th of October the member of our Union Sviatlana Aleksievich was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. It’s a great event for us! And another one great event that in the beginning of the April there was meeting with Sviatlana in Minsk in the Palace of Republic organized by our Union together with Radio Liberty. It was first Sviatlana’s public meeting with readers in Belarus after awarding the Nobel Prize.

You know – according to the old Soviet tradition, culture in Belarus is perceived by power only as a tool aimed at attending upon state ideology. If culture does not perform this function, the authorities ignore it or think it is hostile. So, Sviatlana’s Nobel is also ignored by the government, our president didn’t congratulate her and there were no official meetings at the state level in Belarus. Her first press-conference right away after getting a Nobel took place in a small room of the editorial place of the independent newspaper and there were no free space for all journalists. As for the central governmental TV – they mentioned Nobel only once tell some words in the end of news-program.

We also still have political prisoners in Belarus and although none of them is a writer or our Union member, you know, separate authors and journalists are being prosecuted. There is censorship. We still have problems with book distribution with a governmental monopolist distributor in Belarus. Also the black lists of writers are still in use.

Of course we try to support independent literature and writers in Belarus. We organized literary meetings and book presentations, literary awards and competitions. Our Union goes on working in cooperation with independent publishing house “Belaruski Knihasbor”, we also work

in the frames of the book net distribution around Belarus at the basis of the publishing house “Galiafy” and “Lohvinau”. Although it’s very difficult for independent publishing houses and book shops to survive now two little bookstores “Galiyafy” and “Kniznaya Shafa” (“Bookcase”) was opened and now we have more places for holding literary presentations now.

We also went on publishing books in the book series “Writer’s bookstore”. Overall we have about 35 editions published, among them regional branches almanacs, Belarusian-Ukrainian almanac “Sprava”, children’s almanac “Garbuzik” (“Little Pumpkin”), dedute books, children’s’ books. For example, translations of the Swedish children books into Belarusian language like stories about Petson and Findus are very popular in Belarus now.

Since this year the project Books from Belarus is under control to Our Union. The main aim of the project is to present the best contemporary Belarusian literature abroad at different international bookfairs:  in Frankfurt. Leipzig, Warsaw, Vilnius, Lviv and other places. The Nobel Prize awarded to Sviatlana Aleksijevich drew attention to other women’s voices in Belarusian prose and poetry. That’s why this year with the help of the project we want to show the women’s face of Belarusian Literature.

We also organized literary meetings and discussions, books presentations, workshops for writers,

Literary awarded and competitions. As we have a small number of literary critics in Belarus this year and that’s why a competition for young writers “ExLibris” is named in honor of critic Anton Luckevich. Authors under 35 can send their literary rewies for the prize. The name of the winner will be announced in the beginning of September.

International literary events also took place with our help. On February together with Belarusian PEN-centre we organized the International Mihas Stralcou Poetry Festival “Poems on the pavement” for the 5th time. During four days we had poetry readings, book presentations, a poetry jam and slam, discussions dedicated to Mikhas Stralcou, a festival within the festival – “Magnus Ducatus Poesis” and other events. Poets from Belarus, Israel, New Zealand, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine took part in the festival. We were looking forward to visit of Swedish poet Cecilia Hanson but she became ill and couldn’t come. But we suppose she’ll come next time.

The union also tries to improve very difficult situation with copyrights in Belarus, at least among members of the union. Now the union’s web-site has a section dedicated to copyrights; we have a lawyer who works for the union and who renders consultations to members of the union and its partners. We plan to organize seminars concerning copyrights for regional branches of the union and we will invite publishing houses to attend them.

The School for young writers still works at our Union. About 27 students who prefer prose writing attend the practical classes and master-classes from established Belarusian authors, literary critics and translators, among them Svetlana Alexievich, Uladzimir Niakliaeu, Ales Razanau and others.

We also have close connection and cooperation with Lithuanian, Ukranian, Swedish Unions of writers.

The State and Activity of the Lithuanian Writers Union for 2015

I’ll begin, as this report has always begun, with statistics: The Lithuanian Writers Union has at this time 374 members (375 last year), 238 men and 136 women. As is apparent, women only make up slightly more than a third. Over the last two years, seven members have died and three new ones have been accepted. So, for the time being, the trend remains largely negative – a decreasing number of members because the average age in the LWU is quite high. There is, though, a trend towards renewal as well – more and more young authors want to join.

Hope also comes in the form of the fact that the formerly conservative LWU began to renovate its internet website from the ground up. It is now a site with news about literary events. Work on a complete internet biography and bibliography of all the members has begun, thereby renewing the database.

Last year, the LWU was involved with a youth project, “Ką šeštadienį” [What’s on Saturday], that was very successful. Once a month, young, beginning writers, schoolchildren and students, met with LWU members and other writers, discussed creative work, writing, possibilities for publication, and participated in readings of poetry. This seems to be beneficial for all concerned: beginning writers learn about the creative kitchen from the inside, gain experience and encouragement, while established authors get to share their experience.

As can be seen, the general state of the Lithuanian Writers Union as an organization is not bad, but it is not terribly happy either. The most dire situation is for the writers union periodicals. The weekly Literatūra ir menas [Literature and Art], and the Kaunas chapter’s biweekly Nemunas are supported by funds from the Ministry of Culture and the Press, Radio, and Television Fund. In other words, they are financed out of the state budget. The problem is that that financing diminishes every year because the state, unfortunately, does not consider the cultural press to be a priority. Sometimes promised funds arrive 3-4 months late, and the cultural publications are left to vegetate, sinking into debt, failing to pay authors, lowering standards of quality, decreasing volume. The situation of the literary monthly, Metai [Years], is better, but the trend is clear – publications are forced to vegetate. One drastic solution would be to close them up and publish only one rather than three, or simply allow them to vegetate until they slip away on their own. Either way, Lithuania is in danger of not having a quality literary publication in the near future. Unfortunately, no steps are being taken to remedy the situation, either by the state or the writers union. The situation remains precarious and uncertain.

The publishing house of the Lithuanian Writers Union is doing better. It remains the primary publisher of Lithuanian poetry, and has the greatest number of Lithuanian authors to its credit. One pleasant change – last year the publisher took up a greater interest in foreign literature and began publishing more European novels, and soon an anthology of Icelandic poetry and several collections of particular foreign poets will appear.

2015 saw quite a lot of international cooperation within the region. Relations were strengthened with Eastern European countries: Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and the Kaliningrad district. International connections were strengthened through various projects in these countries: literary translation workshops, international forums, festivals and other events.

However, currently, participation in international events is problematic because writers have trouble getting financial compensation for travel expenses if they do not get an invitation to an event six months ahead of time or more (in order to ask for an educational stipend). So it was suggested to LWU members that they participate in a general application to the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture to help LWU members go to international events by compensating them for travel expenses.

In 2016, Lithuanian Writers Union members are slated to participate in international events in Poland, USA, Ireland, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, Hungary, Germany, Czechia and Russia.

As happens every year, there were two large and fundamental poetry festivals organized in Lithuania: Poetry Spring and Druskininkai Poetic Fall. The international Poetry Spring festival occurred, as always, during the last two weeks of May. Last year, it saw it’s 51st incarnation, one of the oldest continuous poetry festivals in Europe. And during those 51 years the festival has hardly changed – it is still gigantic in terms of participants, events and places travelled. The festival occurs not only throughout Lithuania but also outside its borders, in Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, France, Russia.

There are some problems with the festival. The number of genuinely strong Lithuanian poets who participate is rather small, probably because many have become tired of the rather official events and don’t want to be part of a two week long marathon. There are problems also in relation to the foreign guests, primarily the same eternal problem – a lack of funds. Often only second or third rate poets are invited, which depreciates the festival’s meaning and scale. The festival should be reformed – with fewer events; it should become more of a chamber festival rather than a sprawling symphony, but that will be hard to accomplish at the present time.

October saw its 25th annual, international Druskininkai Poetic Fall festival. Unlike Poetry Spring, it has a span of only a few days, is more closed, focused more on writers, publishers and translators. Last year’s theme was “Fear: To Write or Not to Write?”. The conference included in the festival hosted a discussion of writer’s block – looking into the psychological and other causes that interfere with a writer’s ability to create.

Last year, the festival began to work with the European poetry project “Versopolis” that currently includes 15 countries and their poetry festivals. Versopolis is a Creative Europe project as part of the European Commission program. The aim is to introduce young poets who are known in their own countries to the wider audience of other European countries. The project’s goal is to promote poetry and create a tight-knit web of poetic communities throughout Europe.

Last year, five poets from Poland, Sweden, Slovakia, Belgium and Great Britain participated in the Druskininkai Poetic Fall. Five young Lithuanian poets similarly participated in literary festivals in Slovenia, France, Austria, Sweden and elsewhere.

This year, the Lithuanian Writers Union has taken up two interesting initiatives having to do with the promotion of Lithuanian literature. One is the soon to be reborn Lithuanian literature journal focused on readers abroad (and that used to be published in Russian and English). The Vilnius Review will now be an internet website, regularly publishing Lithuanian fiction, poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction in translation, as well as polemical essays about Lithuanian literature, book reviews, and audiovisual material. The website is still under construction, but is expected to be up and running by the middle of May. I will let this center know when the Vilnius Review is fully functional, for I think it will be of interest to all of you.

The other initiative mentioned above that should also see concrete fruition this year is the publication of an anthology of poetry in translation. This anthology will be published once a year and will include translations of poetry from various countries around the world, reviews of translated poetry published in Lithuania, theoretical essays on poetry and translation written by the world’s poets, and a bibliography of poetry translations in Lithuania. Such an anthology was greatly needed because most of the translations published in the literary press are quickly forgotten and fall into oblivion.

The Lithuanian Writers Union decided to vary the yearly gathering of members this year by organizing an open conference on contemporary Lithuanian literature to take place after the member’s meeting. This is a genuinely useful and welcome initiative that will bring writers together with those who have an interest in literature. I think that such an initiative could be welcomed also by the Baltic countries council because we all have points of agreement, similar problems and need to share and consider them together.

THE YEAR 2015 marked an important milestone for the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters (SKTL) as
the Association celebrated its 60th anniversary. The main focus of the year was to increase the visibility of translators
and interpreters.
The anniversary was celebrated in a banquet held in April 2015 in Helsinki. In the banquet, the annual awards for
literary translations were handed out by Finland’s first lady, the President’s spouse, poet Jenni Haukio. The Mikael
Agricola award for best fiction translation published in 2014 was given to Juhani Lindholm for the Finnish translation
of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, and the J. A. Hollo award for best non-fiction translation was handed out to
Jyrki Kallio for the Finnish translation of the Analects of Confucius. In addition to these awards, the awards for nonliterary
translators, audiovisual translators and interpreters were also handed out.
In November (6th to 26th), SKTL held an anniversary exhibition in Culture Center Caisa in Helsinki, celebrating and
introducing the work of translators and interpreters in all its variety. The exhibition included both visual art, texts,
videos and literature as well as a photo collage of 60 translators and interpreters. In addition to this, numerous public
lectures and workshops describing the work of translators and interpreters were held.
The Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters has 1789 members (31/12/2015). The Association consists of
five divisions: the literary (I), non-literary (II) and audiovisual translators (III), the interpreters (IV), and the teachers
and researchers (V), and three local branches in Turku, Tampere and Vaasa. The divisions and branches have arranged
several meetings, trainings, and other activities related to their specific area of interest. The focus of this report is on the
first division, that is, the literary translators’ division, which has 392 members.
The main activities of the literary division in 2015 were:
 Participating in the Culture Minister’s annual question hour in February and the annual budget hearing of the
Ministry of Culture in October, and otherwise working to promote the position and working conditions of
literary translators in Finland.
 Participating in the annual Book Fair both in Turku and Helsinki.
 Monthly meetings that included both lectures and discussions about matters that are important for translators.
For example, in our November meeting, Morten Visby, the President of the Danish Literary Translators,
visited us and told us about the e-book contracts they have accomplished in Denmark.
 The division also participated in setting up a lecture series concerning literary translation with the University
of Helsinki. The lectures were held by experienced literary translators and researchers and were open for both
students and professional translators. The lecture series was praised and the co-operation with the University of
Helsinki will continue in 2016, as well.
As a conclusion: in 2015, SKTL celebrated its 60th anniversary with a banquet, exhibition and lecture series, focused in
defending the rights and developing the working conditions of translators and interpreters, aimed to increase the
visibility of translators and interpreters, offered guidance, training and several social events to members and worked
together with several other associations and organizations both nationally and internationally.
Written by Oona Timonen, Chair of the literary division in 2016

Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen

The Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers

Last year, 2015, was the most successful one in the history of the Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers; this applies to both finances and activities. More events than ever before were held all round Finland and the number of Association members is over 3,100.

Elokuussa 2015 vietettiin Tietokirjaviikkoa. Viikon jokaisena päivänä oli tarjolla tietokirjaohjelmaa ja -sisältöä. Helsingissä järjestettiin the two-day non-fiction festival (TIETOKIRJA.FI), nyt viidennen kerran. The speakers was? again over a hundred writers and lovers of non-fiction.

Lähetimme lasten ja nuorten tietokirjailijoita kirjastoihin kertomaan kirjoistaan ja lukemaan niitä. Julkaisimme videon, jossa koululaiset kertovat millainen on hyvä oppikirja. Tulokset olivat yllättäviä. Koululaiset pitävät enemmän perinteisistä painetuista kirjoista kuin sähköisistä oppimateriaaleista.

The Association awarded a record total of EUR 2.3 million in grants. These grants are financed out of copying fees collected by the Kopiosto Copyright Society. Tämä tulee jäämään ennätykseksi, koska valokopiointi vähenee nopeasti, eikä digitaalinen kopiointi korvaa sitä. Lisäksi digitaalisessa maailmassa kopioidaan enemmän kuvaa ja lehteä kuin tietokirjaa.

A course for writers of non-fiction is held now four times. The topics of the six-day training were non-fiction culture in general, non-fiction writing skills, copyrights and publishing agreements, being a non-fiction writer, publishing skills, and digital publication. Training in other subjects was also arranged. Suosittuja ovat olleet muun muassa Tietokirja ja kuva –koulutus ja sosiaalista mediaa käsittelevä koulutus

The Association published an article collection “QUALITY! Teaching materials in the changing information environment”.

Parliament doubled the sum set aside for fees payable on loans from libraries, to become effective in 2015. It now stands at over EUR 8 million. Promises have been made that it will be raised to the level of the other Nordic countries in the next few years; this would require an increase of at least EUR 6 million. Remuneration is at present paid only on loans from public libraries. It is our hope that the scheme will in future be expanded to include loans from teaching and research libraries, too.

Writers earn little. Royalties are small. Hence the need for library lending fees, copying fees and grants. Luckily quite a few non-fiction writers have a second occupation, as teachers, university lecturers, researchers, journalists, coaches and consultants. The number of freelancers, i.e. self-employed persons, has risen rapidly due to, among other things, the sweeping changes taking place in the media.

Society of Swedish Authors in Finland

The Society of Swedish Authors in Finland (Finlands svenska forfattareförening) is the central organisation of Swedish-language writers in Finland. It was founded in 1919.

The aim of the Society

From the start the Society was described as “purely a professional union of fiction writers, critics and essayists”. The main aim was, and still is, to safeguard the general and economic interests of the Swedish-language writers in Finland and to promote Swedish-language literature in Finland. Problems confronting us at that time, as well as at present, are mostly economical, in addition to questions concerning copyright.


The Society can be joined by a Swedish-language writer in Finland who has published at least two original works of fiction in Swedish.

At present the Society has 192 members; 89 men (47%) and 103 women (53%).

Areas of special interest

Areas of special interest are contracts between authors and publishers, exercising proper influence on copyright legislation, defending the free lending of books in public libraries and the compensation therefore to the authors (the Public Lending Right-system, PLR), working for more government scholarships to authors and more artists’ state pensions, social security for authors and a lower VAT on e-books as well as books printed on paper.

The secondary use of literature such as copying on paper and digital copying, broadcasting and use in television etc. are handled through collecting societies, mainly Kopiosto, founded in 1980 and Sanasto, founded in 2005.


It is of great importance to the writers to have representatives in committees and boards dealing with the topics mentioned above – this refers to governmental committees as well as private ones. The Society is represented in all vital committees.

Co-operation with other organisations, national and international

The Society closely co-operates with other similar organisations, such as the Union of Finnish Writers, translators’ and dramatists’ unions and many more.

International co-operation is channelled mainly through the Nordic Writers´ and Translators’ Council, the European Writers’ Council, the Baltic Writers’ Council and the International Writers’ and Translators’ Center of Rhodes.