Baltic Writers Council (BWC), General Assembly 2018
Time and place: 21–22 April 2018, Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, Uddens gränd 3, 621 56 Visby, Sweden.
The following representatives of the 12 member organisations were present: Swedish Writers’ Union (Viveka Sjögren), The Union of Finnish Writers (Sirpä Kähkönen, Suvi Oinonen), Society of Swedish Writers in Finland (Peter Sandström, Johanna Sandberg, Malin Kivelä), The Finnish Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers (Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen), The Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters (Taina Helkamo), Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators (Kazimiera Astratoviene), Lithuanian Writers’ Union (Marius Burokas), Estonian Writers’ Union (Tiit Aleksejev, Piret Viires), Latvian Writers’ Union (Mudite Treimane), Polish Assciation of Literary Translators (Justyna Czechowska), The Union of Belarusian Writers (Dmitri Plax), St Petersburg Writers’ Union (Jegor Fetisov). Lena Pasternak was representing the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators. Halyna Kruk was invited as the representative of Ukrainian PEN.
Saturday April 21st 2018
10.00-16.00 Meeting with a lunch break
Agenda of the General Assembly
• 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 strength 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).
MINUTES FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
1. The Chairperson of BWC Kazimiera Astratoviene opened the meeting at 10:00 on Saturday April 21st 2018. The participants of the meeting shortly presented themselves, Lena introduced the logistics of the day and reading in the evening.
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 2017“Organizing literary event „Open House in Visby“: finding strength and support inside BWC” :
The General Assembly of 2017 for the Baltic Writers Council was arranged on 28th–29th of April in Visby, Gotland. 14 persons representing 11 organisations from 7 countries took part in the meeting.
During last year‘s GA the most important issue was literary event in Visby in 2018. It was decided to have a minor event there in the House, asking BWC member-organizations to invite poets, writers and translators and to cover their travel and accommodation costs. It also seemed important to have someone from Ukraine as an invited guest if only it will be possible due to our financial situation.
One of the biggest challenges was getting a funding for the event. With a help of The Association of Finnish Non-fiction Writers represented by a vice-chairperson Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen BWC received a donation: The Society of Swedish Authors in Finland, The Union of Finnish Writers, The Association of Finnish Non-fiction Writers supported the event financially – each of these organizations donated 1000 euros, so in the beginning of October 2017 we had 3000 euros and could proceed organizing the event.
3000 euros seemed enough to have an invited guest from Ukraine as it was planned. Ukrainian poet, translator and a children‘s book writer Halyna Kruk was invited to take part in the event „Open House in Visby“. And Society of Swedish Authors in Finland, Swedish Writers’ Union, Estonian Writers’ Union, Finnish Writers’ Union, Latvian Writers’ Union, Lithuanian Writers’ Union was willing to send their representatives to take part in the readings. So this evening we will have the pleasure listening to them.
It was wonderful to find strength inside BWC, members supported and sent performers to the literary event „Open House in Visby“. This all was an excellent example of collaboration.
The GA approved the report.
5. Membership questions.
5.1. The GA decided that the membership fee is the same as previous years, 150 euros.
5.2. Possible Ukrainian membership. There was a discussion about membership of Ukrainian organization. Halyna Kruk, who was representing Ukraine, informed the GA that Ukrainian Writers Association started to proceeded to get legal status last year. There is also a new association of translators are also getting a legal status.
THE GA decided that the question should be discussed again next year. Meanwhile Kazimiera Astratoviene and Halyna Kruk will be in touch to monitor the situation. Dmitri Plax noted that The Union of Belarusian Writers is supporting Ukrainian membership in BWC.
5.3. Other membership issues.
Jegor Fetisov suggested to contact Danish writers union and ask if they would like to join BWC again. Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen noted that BWC has several members from Norway, but they have not come here. However, they pay their fees.
The GA decided that Norwegians should be approached individually.
6. BCWT news by Lena Pasternak, director of BCWT.
During 2017 213 writers stayed at the centre, representing 26 countries, altogether 3000 guest days. 50% of them were writers, 50% translators. 85% residents were from the Baltic countries, 15% Africa, Canada, China – rest of the world. 67% women, 33 % men.
Sweden is most present here, but also several residents from Germany and Russia. There have been 2 projects with Russia (Russian translators workshop and Swedish-Russian writers meeting). There was also a seminar for French-Swedish translators with the support from Arts Council. Several seminars are planned (eg. seminar about Bergman, seminar for Lithuanian translators etc).
A Baltic Sea cooperation is going on with Estonian Writers’ Union and Ventspils House. The application for funding has been submitted.
There are scholarships available for Belorussian writers supported by Swedish Institute.
Estonian Writes’ Union offers 4 scholarships, also German Translators fund offers scholarships.
BCWT is a member of network of centers RECIT, Ventspils is a new member now, also Estonia Writers’ Union is considering joining.
There has been fruitful cooperation in Visby with International Centre of Composers, Baltic Art Centre and with local library in Almendalen. Also there is good cooperation with schools.
The budget of BCWT is 2 million SEK, 75% is supported by Arts council. Region Gotland is supporting with 400000 SEK. BWCT has two full-time employees. There is challenge to get the money for renovations; perhaps it is possible to get donations for the renovations.
BWTC is a centre for cultural diplomacy, cultural exchange. The strength of the centre – it is a house built by writers and translators, it is a place to visit for work and contemplation.
7. 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.
7. 1. Tiit Aleksejev (Estonian Writers Union)
7. 2. Marius Burokas (Lithuanian Writers Union)
7. 3. Jegor Fetisov (St. Petersburg Writers’ Union)
7. 4. Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen (The Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers)
7. 5. Peter Sandström (Society of Swedish Authors in Finland)
Lunch break 13.00
Country reports continue 14.30
7. 6 Suvi Oinonen (Finnish Writers Union)
7. 7. Taina Helkamo (The Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters)
7. 8. Dmitri Plax (The Union of Belarusian Writers)
7. 9. Justyna Czechowska (Polish Association of Literary Translators )
7. 10. Viveka Sjögren (Swedish Writers’ Union)
The session was ended at about 16.00.
The GA was resumed on Sunday April 22nd 2018 at 10:00.
Sunday April 22nd 2018
- Treasurer’s report by Mudite Treimane the Treasurer of BWC.
- Auditor’s report.
- Reports from member-organizations 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.
8. Teasurer’s report by Mudite Treimane the Treasurer of BWC. The Treasurer Mudite Treimane presented the finances of 2017 and the budget of 2018 and 2019. There is surplus 12 039 SEK from the year 2017.
The economy is stable, 79 683 SEK is in the bank account.
GA agreed the BWC would pay an amount to BWTC for the administration and give the board the right to decide the amount.
GA accepted the budget for 2018:
BWC activities 26 000 SEK (income membership fees), Literary event “Open house in Visby” 29 301,10 SEK
GA accepted the budget for 2019 – BWC activities 26 000 SEK (income membership fees).
Membership fee – 2017, 2 members have not paid; 2018, 7 members have not paid.
9. Auditors report. Justyna Czechowska and Lena Pasternak presented the Auditors report. The auditor found the books in 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 2017 and the budgets for 2018 and 2019.
10. Reports from member organizations continued. See Appendix.
10.1. Kazimiera Astratoviene (Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators)
After the report there was a discussion about translators’ situation. The GA made a suggestion to organise a roundtable on translators situation during the GA in 2019.
The GA formed a working group to prepare this roundtable: Justyna Czechowska, Dmiti Plax, Jegor Fetisov, Taina Helkamo.
10.2. Mudite Treimane (Latvian Writers´ Union)
11. Election of Baltic Writers Council board members.
• Election of the BWC Board members: Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen (retiring by rotation), Mudite Treimane (retiring by rotation).
As the result of the elections Malin Kivelä and Mudite Treimane were elected to the board.
12. Election of Auditors.
Johanna Sandberg and Justyna Czechowska were elected auditors.
13. Other issues.
15.1 Travel grant. No restrictions in applying, but the board decides.
15.2. Jegor made a suggestion to organise seminars of translators of Russian literature in Visby. GA decided that we will come back to it in 2019.
14. Date for the next GA was decided to be 26th–28th April 2019, 26th roundtable for translators, 27th-28th 2019 GA.
15. The session and GA was ended at 12.30.
Kazimiera Astratoviene Piret Viires
Baltic Writers Council (BWC), General Assembly 21–22 April 2018
- Tiit Aleksejev (Estonian Writers Union)
In October 2017 the Estonian Writers’ Union celebrated its 95th anniversary. There was also confirmation from the Estonian state that it is possible to continue with the project of writers’ salaries (12 salaries, 1000 eur netto a month + social guarantees). These salaries give writers a chance to focus on writing. The Council who selects the authors consists of representatives of Estonian Writers’ Union, National Library, and Estonian Literature Centre etc. Right now there are 6 male authors and 6 female authors who have received the salaries.
There has been collaboration with Finnish Writers’ Union as well as collaboration with Sanasto. Finnish organisations have advised how to proceed with PLR is Estonia. Right now the sum for remuneration in Estonia is 125 000 EUR, in Finland the sum is 15 million.
There has also been active cooperation with three Baltic writers’ unions, meeting in Riga, seminar in Käsmu. The cooperation is financed by Nordic Council.
London Book Fair 2018 was a success story, as the Baltic countries were the main guests in the fair. There was a successful communication between Baltic countries. After the book fair there was held a literary event – EstLitFest, which was also very popular.
Right now there are 327 members in the Estonian Writers’ Union, including writers, translators, literary scholars etc.
Estonian Writers’ Union belong to two international frameworks – Baltic Writers’ Council and European Writers’ Council. Chairman Tiit Aleksejev is a board member of EWC.
- Marius Burokas (Lithuanian Writers’ Union)
A statistical look: at this time, the Lithuanian Writer’s Union has 366 members, comprised of 232 men and 134 women. From last year into this one, it lost 9 members, while 4 were accepted.
2017 was an important year for writers and the Union because of many international events. Last year saw feverish activity in preparation for the London Book Fair of 2018, where Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were special Market Focus guests: 19 books by Lithuanian authors were translated into English.
Also one of the Lithuanian literature festivals – Druskininkai Poetic Fall was shortlisted for London Book Fair Excellence Awards as one of the best literary festivals (together with the Polish Conrad festival and George Town Literary Festival from Malaysia). Last year the DPF got the international recognition – EFFE (Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe) label for 2017-2018 years. This quality label is given to festivals with an artistic commitment, involvement in their local communities and a European and global outlook.
The Lithuanian Writers Foundation residency program was successfully continued in 2017. Five translators of Lithuanian literature (Anita van der Molen (Netherlsnds), Sotirios Suliotis (Greece), Claudia Sinnig (Germany), Małgorzata Gierałtowska (Poland) and Ana Gerasimova (Russia) were invited to spend a month in Palanga to translate into their primary languages.
Lithuanian Writers Foundation also organized Lithuanian literature translation workshops in Warsaw and Riga universities Baltic studies centres. Lithuanian Writers Union continued it’s usual activities in schools and with young and emerging writers: there were “Reading Hours” with Lithuanian writers in ethnic minorities schools, there were translation workshops called “The Literary Dietine” in Poland Lithuanian speaking island in Seinai.
A continuing project is the “Summer Academy” in which high school writers from throughout Lithuania are invited to the Writer’s Union summer retreats at Nida or Palanga for a week where they take part in writing workshops, listen to a series of lectures on Lithuanian literature, and work together with writers and critics
With the assistance of the Writer’s Union, our writers continued to participate in literature and poetry festivals in other countries. Also there was a German embassy funded bilingual poetry festival and workshop „Between Tongues“, organized by a poet and translator Schirin Nowroussian and Lithuanian Writers Union. There were international bilingual poetry readings in Writers Union and the multilingual almanac was published by Writers Foundation.
Georgian translators project “The Sails of Lithuanian Literature” whose goal was to translate a large amount of Lithuanian literary works into Georgian was also successfully conducted last year. There was a special Lithuanian edition of Georgian literary magazine „Apra“ (Sails) which was presented to Georgian readers and audience.
Last year Lithuanian Writers Union joined a totally new project – “Baltic countires Writers Unions network”. There was a meeting in Riga with members of Latvian and Estonian Writers Unions, where representatives decided on closer collaboration and joint projects. Next meeting was this year in Estonia, in Käsmu, where was agreed on further meetings in Lithuania and Latvia. There will be translation workshops, joint events and other.
The publishing house of the Lithuanian Writer’s Union continues to release more Lithuanian prose and poetry than any other publishers. 56 books were published in 2017, 34 by Lithuanian authors, including 14 poetry books as well as 1 poetry collection in Lithuanian translation. Unfortunately, state support for publication is continuously dwindling – last year only 12 books out of 41 were supported by the state, only one fourth of what was asked for.
The literary press supported by Lithuanian culture foundations and by the Writer’s Union has been in a dismal condition – lack of funds as always. Anyway, they are continuing their fight for survival and better financing. Culture weekly „Literatūra ir menas“ (Literature and Art) caused a scandal publishing a totally empty issue with blank pages. Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Press, Radio and Television Support Foundation was caught in that scandal and, it seems, the foundation would be reorganized this year. Literatūra ir menas is still alive, but continuing as biweekly.
The weekly publication of the Writer’s Union, Metai changed it’s design and the magazine of Lithuanian literature in English – Vilnius Review, continued to publish the best of recent Lithuanian literature. The print edition – anthology of the best Lithuanian writing – was also published in 2017. Vilnius Review also started filming poetry videos of poets, reading in their favourite locations. Videos are subtitled in English.
As is customary, Lithuania hosted two major poetry festivals – Poetry Spring and Druskininkai Poetic Fall. The 52st international Poetry Spring took place as always over the last two weeks of May. A handful of guests from abroad took part, and Lithuanian authors travelled to Switzerland, Ireland, Great Britain, France, Poland, and Russia to read their poems.
The theme of the Druskininkai Poetic Fall festival last year was “Women and Men in Literature: Contexts of Imagination”. Discussions in public and in social media began even before the Festival events. After many years it was the theme important for all people in literature field and even not only in Literature field. The discussion on this theme on Friday was the beginning of the Festival. Literature critics, feminist rights activists, writers and other guests discussed on situation in Lithuania and the world. The festival anthology published 14 guests from USA, Japan, Israel, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, other countries. Also 6 poets from Lithuania were presented to the audience. The anthology also published laureates of the previous year as well as work from visiting Versopolis poets.
- Egor Fetisov (St. Petersburg Writers’ Union)
I represent the Union of the Saint Petersburg writers. I understand that it is very boring to listen to the report about the union activities in 2017, but let me take three minutes of your time.
As of today there are 482 members at the Union of the Saint Petersburg writers. 67 of them have joined for the last three years.
In December 2017 at the General assembly the majority of votes were cast for novel and drama writer Valery Popov. He was reelected for next 3 years as the head of the union.
As always there were many presentations, exhibitions and meetings in 2017 and beginning of 2018.
It was also the year when St. Petersburg writers got a number of literature prizes. Evgeny Vodolazkin gor a historical-litterature prize “Clio”, which is awarded to the writers who reflect the historical background of the country. Another Saint Petersburg writer Alexander Melikhov got a prizq, awarded by the literature magazine “Zvezda” for his essays. And the famous writer Daniil Granin, who is well known for his novels ”The bison” and “Into the storm” got the “State prize of the Russian Federation”. Unfortunately he died soon after the ceremony at the age of 98. Granin was an important era of St. Petersburg literature, a moral example for many generations of the readers. His bitter and truthful memories about the 2nd world war and the Siege of Leningrad are reflected in his works. His other main works are “My lieutenant” and “A book of the Blockade”, which was written together with Alesj Adamovich.
Recently The XV-th international “Festival of humor” took place in Saint Petersburg. The festival included a competition for the short-story-writers called “Red nose 2018”. This time it was awarded to the playwriter Nadezhda Ptushkina from Moscow.
Now about fantasy and science fiction. In October 2017 Belyaev festival took place in Saint Petersburg. It is an important literature competition named after a famous science fiction writer Alexander Belyaev.
St. Petersburg is going to apply for a UNESCO competition World book capital-2020. It can provide unique opportunity for the city to be promoted in the world of books. Saint Petersburg has good chances to win this competition thanks to many events which take place in the city. For example, annual St. Petersburg book fair, that you can visit next month, Book avenue on Malaya Konyushennya street, mobile library in the underground. It is a rather interesting thing. If you are travelling on orange underground line in Saint Petersburg, you can follow the instructions and login to the site where you can download free of charge 100 modern books. The Saint Petersburg union of the writers got back the right to represent its books in the big bookstore in the center of the city, called “writers’ book store”. The book store opened its subsidiaries in Serbia, Belorussia and Greece, where saint-petersburg writers are now represented.
Our union actively cooperates with foreign counterparts and publishing houses. There was a number of international meetings and presentations in 2017, such as a meeting with Cathrine Lovey, a psychologist and writer from France, a presentation of magazines “metamorphoses”, Minsk, Belorussia; “Verb”, Russian-language magazine in Paris, France; “Milky Way” (Israel), and a presentation of poetry volume “A voice of woman”, published in Finnish, Swedish and Russian.
Сreative writing seminars continue their work. A new seminar of young free verse (vers libre) poets “Dereveter; Treewind” under the guidance of Olga Turkina was launched in 2017. Another seminar “Young St. Petersburg” for school pupils and young writers by Roman Vsevolodov who himself writes prose for children and youth, has been successfully working.
Every year we organize exhibitions in the House of writers called Writers – artists“. They include presentation of paintings made by writers as well as presentation of new books.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the literature for kids in Russia we have been working on a volume of short stories by St. Petersburg children’s writers under a name “Christmas Tree 1918-2018”.
A workshop of drama writers published in 2017 a volume of theatre plays by modern St. Petersburg writers. A volume of short stories about St. Petersburg called “City 812” is well under way.
Gogol’s prize continue its work. The big jury will select books in 3 niminations, prize will be awarded as always at St. Petersburg international book fair in May.
Despite limited financial resources St. Petersburg union of writers sets the tone of all literature activities of the city and participates in all important events of the literature life of Russia.
- Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen (The Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers)
The Association awarded almost 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 level, 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 sixth 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.
In January 2019, the Association is to publish an article collection entitled “The New School”. Based on research findings, it will report what is known about teaching and learning and the practical experience so far gained. One example of this is the increase in online teaching. It is a topical work now that digitalisation is changing the nature of teaching materials, and now that 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 August 2016 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. A new edition is to be published in August 2018.
The other catalogue, published in January 2017, gave suggestions for the lower school and pre-school. A new edition is to be published in January 2019.
Together with the Tammi Publishing House we launched a writing competition for children’s and teenage non-fiction. Not enough non-fiction is published for them in Finland. The winners were announced at the Helsinki Book Fair in October 2017 and the first books will be published next autumn.
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, non-governmental organisations 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.
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.
The highlight of 2017 was TIETOKIRJA.FI, a non-fiction festival held in Helsinki for the sixth time on August 30–31, 2017. Over these two days, the festival featured more than 100 non-fiction writers and enthusiasts. The events were open to the public and free. It was full house almost all the time.
Finland’s next parliamentary elections will be held in April 2019 and we are in the process of writing our aims for the government programme. As in the run-up to the two previous elections, we will be arranging 13 political panel debates in various parts of Finland in late 2018 and early 2019. Four Members of Parliament from at least four parties will be invited to take part in these debates. The topics for discussion will be the role of non-fiction and textbooks and the importance of reading and education to the Finns’ wellbeing.
- Peter Sandström (Society of Swedish Authors in Finland)
Our union has approximately 200 members, all Finnish fiction writers who write in Swedish. The union was founded in 1919 so next year we celebrate our centennial. On the whole there is a big interest among new writers to apply for membership.
The general situation can be considered OK for fiction writers in Finland. Special issues for the Swedish-speaking writers must be seen through the fact that we are a language minority. People who speak Swedish as their mother-tongue represent 5,5 % of the population in Finland (approx. 300 000 out of 5,8 millions). This highlights the importance to for example make sure that the Swedish language is properly represented in commissions and committees that decide upon grants, prizes etc.
Our everyday work consists of routines about copyright issues, contracts, economical issues etc. To some extent we are also offering our service to non-members. We have one employee at the office in Helsinki, the Secretary General Johanna Sandberg as of May 2017. She followed long time Secretary General Merete Jensen who is now retired. Since 2013 Peter Sandström is the president of the society. Every year we have a party for all our members the same day as the spring meeting which elects the board and decides on other important issues.
Being a small organization, and representing a language minority, it is very important for us to cooperate on different levels: domestic, Nordic, European and international. We do not want to be left alone.
- Suvi Oinonen (Finnish Writers Union)
Proceedings in Finland in 2017
Public Lending Right Compensation
The PLR compensations for authors are handled and dealt in Finland by copyright society Sanasto. In 2012, Sanasto carried out an extensive and highly successive campaign in order to get the total sum of the compensation raised. in 2012 compensation was 3,6 million €
All Finnish political parties committed themselves to raising the compensation and when Finland celebrated its 100 anniversary the PLR compensation raised to 14 million euros.
2017 Annual Report of the Union of Finnish Writers
The Union of Finnish Writers, founded in 1897, is an organization for Finnish-language fiction writers. At the end of 2017 the Union had 765 members.
The Board of the Union consists of a President, Sirpa Kähkönen, and of eight members and four deputy members. The executive director is Suvi Oinonen, and the office staff consists of totally five persons for example lawyer who helps members with contracts. Unions purpose is to develop the material and non-material conditions of writers’ work as well as to promote Finnish literature.
Highlights in 2017
The Union had a historian working for three years to write the history of the Union. Book named Kivelle perustettu was published last October.
Information services and different kind of events for writers
The Union has a lawyer, whose main task is to help members to solve their various professional problems with contracts, social security issues, or taxes.
In 2017, eleven events were arranged and conducted by the Union for the members on various themes and issues.
The Union planned and organized a several-day literary programme for both of the two major Finnish book fairs, in Turku and in Helsinki, in October. More than 100 writers, most of them members of the Union, participated as lecturers or readers, interviewees etc.
In 2017 Union also arranged five literary events in five different towns in Finland. Miten kirjani ovat syntyneet – how my books were born and these events reached over 300 people.
- Taina Helkamo (The Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters)
Promotion of interests/lobbying
A long-sought-for change for the better was achieved in 2017: “The Lending Based Remuneration” (remuneration based on lending frequency to individual authors and translators for the loans of library books to the public) payable in Finland was brought up to the level of the other Nordic countries. The higher compensation was paid out for the first time in early 2018.
The lobbying was mainly carried out by the Finnish literary copyright society Sanasto in co-operation with the literary organisations of authors and translators.
SKTL has also participated in the Finnish literary copyright society Sanasto’s work of influencing the EU and national decision-makers in order to have Article 12 in the DSM Directive Proposal removed or at least revised. As it is proposed, the article is disadvantageous to authors and translators. This work continues in 2018. The President of SKTL, Heikki Karjalainen, is also President of the Finnish literary copyright society Sanasto; thus, SKTL takes an active part in the lobbying.
SKTL participated in celebration of Finland’s 100th anniversary in 2017
In 2017, Finland celebrated its 100th anniversary as an independent country. Citizens and organisations were invited to participate in the celebration with their own programme and to apply for the inclusion of their projects as part of the official anniversary programme. SKTL contributed with a series of nine lectures on translating and interpreting in co-operation with five universities, one university of applied sciences and the Finnish National Agency for Education. Each event consisted of an academic lecture followed by a more practice-related presentation. The topics covered literary translation during the independence process and in the first years of independence, and translation was also discussed as a necessary element in the building up of culture, science and common knowledge.
Education and information for translators
In co-operation with FILI (Finnish Literature Exchange), SKTL organised a four-day Finnish-English-Finnish Summer School for translators in the summer. SKTL’s section for literary translators arranged several meetings and events on a variety of topics for its members.
Information to the public
The celebration of Finland’s 100th anniversary mentioned above was mainly designed for the purposes of “marketing” SKTL and the field. Several other events and happenings were intended to serve as information to the public. In particular, discussion evenings with authors and their translators attracted sizeable audiences, as did a lecture series on Finnish translations and translators of French literature.SKTL has a stand on two Book Fairs in Finland every year, both in Helsinki and Turku, and contributes actively to the fair programmes.
News from the administration of SKTL
New by-laws were adopted in 2017, and they are effective since 1 January 2018. The most important change was the reduction of the number of Board members from 12 to 9. The General Assembly also adopted a new document, the Code of Ethics, as binding guidelines for all SKTL’s members.
Code of ethics in English: https://www.sktl.fi/kaantaminen_ja_tulkkaus/tyokalupakki-ammattilaiselle-ja-/code-of-ethics/
- Dmitri Plax (The Union of Belarusian Writers)
In 2017, there were no positive changes in the authorities’ attitude towards civil society. Dialogue with civil society was of a random and pinpoint character. In February 2017, due to the sharp deterioration of the economic situation and the accepted tax on the unemployed (President’s Decree №3), spontaneous protest actions, as well as those organized with the assistance of the opposition, began to take place all over the country.
At this moment, the authorities tried to apply their repressive methods against the writers of the independent Union of Belarusan Writers. Several weeks prior to the 17th Congress of the UBW, they published “Addition to President’s Decree №3” that excluded the union of writers from the List of creative organizations of Belarus, i.e. UBW writers were now equated with the unemployed and had to pay the so-called “unemployment tax”. The UBW accepted several appeals to the authorities and sent an appeal to the Council of the Ministry of Culture. As a result of negotiations with the Ministry and official correspondence, members of the independent Union of Belarusan Writers were reinstated in their rights. In this aspect, power decided not to aggravate the confrontation with the literary community.
In 2017, the KGB fabricated the case of the activity of the patriotic-sports organization “White Legion”, which stopped its existence in the beginning of the 2000s. On the eve of the March 25th action, more than 20 people were arrested. Some of these people already lost all contacts with each other long time ago. This situation affected directly the UBW and its publishing and book distribution activity. Mirasḷaŭ Ḷazoŭskі was one of the main figurants of the Case. He has been cooperating for many years with the Union of Belarusan Writers in the direction of book distribution and has his work place in the office of the organization. Viktar Daniḷaŭ, who is Ḷazoŭskі’s assistant, bookseller and driver, was arrested, too. One of the closest partners of the UBW – Aleś Jaŭdacha, director of the independent Internet bookshop Knihi.by – was arrested as well.
After their detention, both International Public Society “Belarusans’ World Association «Baćkaŭščyna»” («Homeland») and UBW were preparing for searches – actually the offices of these organizations were paralyzed for several weeks. Employees continued to work from their houses. The prisoners got the freedoom the day before the OSCE summit that took place in the beginning of July in Minsk.
In any country, the cultural sphere is the foundation of the development of the consciousness and unity of the nation, but in the state building of Belarus it traditionally occupies the last place (on pages of the state-run mass media and in Belarus’ budget) and is used for the sake of the state ideology. The majority of means in 2018 will be directed to finance force structures and to strengthen the ideological control, including the state-run television.
The term “soft Belarusanization” is still voiced by some representatives of the public and by the authorities, but it is not supported by real steps and changes in the work of the latter. It is particularly obvious in the education sphere that still remains Russian-speaking; textbooks on humanitarian sciences are basically oriented achievements of Russian culture and science.
Despite this difficult situation in Belarus, the Union of Belarusian Writers does its best to promote Belarusian literature to the wide range of readers in Belarus and abroad.
Our activities in 2017
In March 2017 the 17th congress of the Union of Belarusan Writers took its place. At this Congress the new Counsil was elected and the Chairperson was re-elected for the next term.
8 literary awards and not less than 40 winners;
5 festivals, among which the women poetry festival festival “Sign of Equality” took its place for the first time;
32 new books, including 7 books for children and audio books;
12 issues of “Literary Belarus”;
6 issues of “Dziejaslou”;
2 creative grants, 7 grant-aided students, and for the first time – 3 women literary grants;
20 new students at the Young Writers School, 82 applications for training, more than 4 people for one place;
5 seminars on authors’ rights in regions, where the new-issued brochure was presented;
43,397 users and 162,411 hits of the web-site lit-bel.org from 10 countries of the world;
More than 400 events all across Belarus with participation of more than 23,805 people;
Not less than 100 mentions of the UBW in the Belarusan and foreign press with the coverage of not less than 100,000 readers.
- Justyna Czechowska (Polish Association of Literary Translators )
Between 6 October 2015 and 23 April 2017 the Polish Literary Translators Association (STL) has undertaken the following actions:
– founded the annual Hieronymus Lion award to publishers friendly toward literary translators, and awarded it to Wydawnictwo Czarne (2016) and Książkowe Klimaty (2017)
– provided patronage to the “Imago Mundi” conference at the University of Warsaw, which included a panel discussion with literary translators
– provided patronage and co-organized “Wiersze w metrze” 2016 [Poems on the Underground] campaign
– provided patronage to the Warsaw Book Fair, where the 2016 Hieronymus Lion award was presented; the fair also featured a panel discussion with literary translators and the conclusion of the competition aimed at students for the best review of a translated book
– produced bags and badges promoting STL and the role of the translator for the Warsaw Book Fair 2016
– set up an STL stall at the Warsaw Book Fair 2016 where readers could meet translators, buy STL gadgets and see books STL provided patronage to
– provided patronage to the Ryszard Kapuściński Award for the best book of literary reportage; as part of the partnership STL organized a lesson in a Warsaw secondary school with Iwona Zimnicka, a nominated translator
– provided patronage to the “Culture in Transfer” conference at the University of Wrocław
– were the main organizer of the 2016 International Translation Day; 11 lessons by literary translators, including STL members, were held in Warsaw secondary schools; in the evening Klancyk improv theatre performed a show based on a book of interviews with literary translators by Adam Pluszka
– provided patronage and co-organized the 2016 “European Poet of Freedom” festival in Gdańsk
– co-organized the 2017 “Found in Translation” festival in Gdańsk and participated in panels at the festival
– provided patronage to the 2016 International Short Story Festival in Wrocław and to the translation competition for translators before their book debut
– STL member Justyna Czechowska together with Kultura Liberalna foundation organized and hosted a series literary meetings “Poddasze Kultury. Piątek: literatura”
– provided patronage to 6 books translated and/or edited by STL members
– STL members Dominika Cieśla, Rafał Lisowski and Adam Pluszka took part in a discussion panel on the legal and financial situation of literary translators at the international conference organized by the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warsaw; STL also provided patronage to the conference
– STL members talked about the association and the situation of translators in the press and on the radio
– published interviews with STL translators of the month on the association’s website
– produced and published a series of internet videos with STL members detailing their reasons for joining the association (http://stl.org.pl/czlonkostwo/dlaczego-wstapic/dlaczego-jestem-w-stl-filmy)
– organized Swedish literary translation workshops between October 2015 and June 2016 and between October 2016 and May 2017 in partnership with Swedish Embassy
– organized 2-day negotiation workshops for translators conducted by a psychologist/psychotherapist
– organized a series of social meetings for members and friends of the association
– moderated the literary translators forum on Facebook
– expanded the knowledge base on the association’s website, including an FAQ on public lending rights remuneration, which was introduced in Poland in 2016
– obtained a 30% discount on legal counsel for STL members in a Warsaw law firm specializing in copyrights
– co-organized a training concerning the analysis of publishing contracts conducted by a copyrights lawyer
– intervened in matters of copyright violation and provided legal advice
– wrote a letter to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage concerning changes in tax law
– ran the association’s website and Facebook page
– distributed a newsletter to STL members and sympathizers
– joined the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators (April 2016)
– STL member Justyna Czechowska participated in the 2016 CEATL annual general meeting in Barcelona
10. Viveka Sjögren (Swedish Writers’ Union)
Swedish Writers’ Union Annual Report 2017
Report written by Gunnar Ardelius
Chair of the Swedish Writers’ Union
In accordance with the statutes, the Writers’ Union is there to protect writers’ freedom of expression and strengthen members’ working conditions as writers and translators.
Major events in 2017 included a historically large increase in the Public Lending Right (PLR), the stranding of the translators’ framework agreement, #Metoo, copyrights within the EU, intensified international solidarity with vulnerable colleagues, and a substantial breakthrough in public opinion and the media regarding the Union’s issues.
During the spring, the Writers’ Union negotiated the basic PLR amounts for 2018 and 2019. The agreement made in April 2017 means that the basic amount of royalty paid when original Swedish works are borrowed has increased by eight öre to SEK 1.68 for 2018 and by another eight öre to SEK 1.76 for 2019. All in all, the total amount of PLR will increase by just under SEK 7 million to about SEK 163.8 million in 2018 and by another SEK 7.8 million to around SEK 171.6 million in 2019. This good outcome is the result of long-term lobbying, both before and during the term of the current government, where the Writers’ Union has insistently stressed the democratic value of literature and the role of libraries.
There was some turbulence during 2017 regarding the translators’ agreement. The framework agreement between the Swedish Writers’ Union and the Swedish Publishers’ Association was terminated by the latter party during the spring and the agreement expired at Midsummer. Nevertheless, most publishers have continued to use the “standard agreement” to the delight of the translators. The main exception was Bonnierförlagen who launched their own agreement in August. That agreement implied such a worsening of terms that the Translators’ Section felt they had to advise translators not to sign it. At the end of November, the Writers’ Union issued a dissuasion which drew attention from both the media and the publishing sector but, in particular, it generated huge commitment and solidarity among members. The process gave rise to discussions between the Union and Bonnierförlagen, the aim of which was to reach a mutually established agreement.
The European Writers Council is an association of European writers and translators organisations, representing more than 160,000 writers and translators from 34 countries. At the annual meeting in Barcelona in June, Gunnar Ardelius was elected as Chair. Renewed efforts regarding freedom of expression in Europe and work linked to the EU directive regarding digital copyright have had high priority on the Council’s agenda. The 2018 annual meeting will be held in Minsk to support the work of the independent Belarusian writers’ union.
The Swedish Writers’ Union organised a very well-attended discussion evening on #Metoo with a panel discussion and readings by female writers. Shortly thereafter, the Union Board appointed a working group whose task is to draw up documents and policies that will give members protection, knowledge and preparedness regarding sexual harassment and increase equality within the book industry. Chair Gunnar Ardelius contacted the Publishers’ Association and bookstore organisations to try to bring about a common practice within the industry.
The Book Fair in Gothenburg aroused passionate engagement among members concerning the question of attending or boycotting the fair because of the presence of the extreme right newspaper Nya Tider. The Writers’ Union gave its support to all members irrespective of standpoint. A meeting was arranged for members to be able to discuss the matter. The Writers’ Union took part in the book fair as planned with a programme for members and the general public. The Union also participated in the parallel event “Scener och samtal”.
The Sami working group has been active. Bágo in Books, the Sami festival of literature in Jokkmokk on 16-18 November, was 2017’s most important happening. The Union Board attended the event. During the festival, it was announced that a centre of literature (FC Sápmi) will be created thanks to funding from Postkodlotteriet, Region Norrbotten, Jokkmokk municipality and the Swedish Arts Council. The procedure whereby the Writers’ Union has two Sami representatives was made permanent.
Together with Sweden’s arts councillor in Moscow, Stefan Ingvarsson, the Union organised a conference for Russian-Swedish writers and translators at the end of October at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Visby, the purpose of which was to protect free expression and promote literary interchange. Willing support was provided by the Swedish Academy, Swedish Arts Council and Swedish Institute. Four Russian and four Swedish writers and four literary translators, two from each language area, all with different political and professional starting points, participated in a three-day workshop.
On account of an invitation from the Swedish embassy, a delegation visited Peking in April. The purpose of the trip was to establish contacts with Chinese writers and translators in order to increase awareness of Swedish literature in China and vice versa. Freedom of expression, censorship and copyright were high up on the agenda.
In September, a manifestation of support was organised outside the Chinese embassy in Stockholm for Swedish citizen Gui Minhai. He is still being held in prison without having had a trial and he has still not been given the right to have a lawyer. He has been forced to “admit” his crimes several times on China’s state television.
In September, another manifestation of support was held for freedom of expression in Turkey where there has been rapid deterioration. Media institutions are being closed down one after another and self-censorship has become an everyday occurrence. In August, Swedish citizen Hamza Yalcin was imprisoned in Spain after Turkey had initiated a search via Interpol. After protests by the Writers’ Union and several sister organisations, Yalcin was released and able to return to Sweden.
Cooperation with various writing and publishing courses at Stockholm University has resulted in many prospective union members and prospective colleagues in the book industry visiting the Författarnas hus building to acquaint themselves with the Writers’ Union’s activities.
- Kazimiera Astratoviene (Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators)
The Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators was founded in 2004, so now our organization if fourteen years old, it has 120 members and many of its activities already became traditional, they are an important part of the cultural life of Vilnius city.
For example, it is hard to imagine Vilnius Book Fair without the election of the best translated book of the year. This year as many times before experts (literary translators and critics) made the long list of 25 books and present the best translated book of the year, elected by readers from the long list. Many readers are using the long list for selecting the books, so the competition reached its goal – to help readers select the most significant works of world literature, promote reading. And even to popularize the profession of a literary translator.
It is also traditional to announce that a year is dedicated to certain literature: we already had Asian literature, Ukrainian literature, Hungarian literature, Polish literature years. And 2017 was declared the Year of Italian literature. There were organized seminars and discussions with the literary translators from Italian language, readings of the books translated from Italian, also the competition for young translators from Italian has been organized.
Our Assocation also has many awards for translators and not only them: it‘s St Jerome Awards to a literary translator for his/her translations into the Lithuanian language as well as to a translator from the Lithuanian language; awards to the editor of fiction and humanitarian literature for the lifetime achievements; award to a novice translator for the best translation début; Bičiulių or Friends Award which is given to an individual or an organization for contributing substantially to artistic translation during the recent year. And one more – award for a best movie texts‘ translator of the year. The partner of this award is popular movie festival „Movie spring“. In this occasion seminar for movie texts‘ translators were also conducted.
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.
As many of you already know, our Assocation has one more award and it‘s the most famous or even notoriuos. It‘s the Antiprize. It can be given to a translator, editor, publisher or a bookshop for a poor or inaccurate translation, for a distortion of a translated text by an editor, for a disrespect for a translated text or a profession of translator. This year for the first time the Antiprize went to the politician Algirdas Sysas for a proposal to increase taxes for the authors. The reason for that was the idea that the authors need to pay the same taxes as everybody else in order to have a pension and a payed holidays. But in reality bigger taxes for authors doesn‘t mean more social guaranties, because an author still doesn‘t have an employer, so all the taxes he pays by himself. It once more proved that politicians in Lithuania doesn‘t have a clue how authors work, what are their real income and why are they an important part of the society. Unfortunatelly the most common belief is that authors must support themselves or become employed. In many cases they are treated as a burden for a society, for the tax payers.
- Mudite Treimane (Latvian Writers´ Union)
Latvian Writers’ Union unites 252 poets, prose writers, playwrights, literary scholars, critics and translators. Writers’ Union popularizes and supports Latvian literature and its authors and arranges different literary events at the premises of the Union. It also supports its members’ participation in different literary festivals and programs, readings, conferences, creative workshops.
The Union has its office also in Liepāja (in Kurzeme region). A regional literary magazine VĀRDS (The Word) is published by Liepāja writers. Writers’ Union co-operates with International Writers’ and Translators’ House (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).
The co-operation with Lithuanian and Estonian Writers’ Unions is renewed again!
Since April 2017 Latvian Writers’ Union publishes the monthly literary newspaper “conTEXT” (concerning all literature genres).
A literary magazine DOMUZĪME (Dash) comes out 4 times a year, 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 2nd 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 organized by Latvian Writers’ Union and Ventspils House. 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. Also the award for lifetime achievements is given every year.
Latvian Writers’ Union in 2017 organized Poetry festival(the largest literary festival in Latvia) which was supported by State Cultural Endowment and Riga City Council. The festival programme included readings of young poets, poetry slam, classical poetry evenings, master-classes and readings of foreign guests. The programmes were traditional and experimental ones with many different events, devoted to poetry.
The programme Literary Academy (with the support of Latvian Ministry of Culture) still continues to give the possibilities to authors – eager to go in for prose, poetry and playwriting – to attend courses, lectures, seminars and master-classes. It becomes popular year after year.
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. Authors had sent in their written works to literary competitions, they had taken part in seminars and master-classes. Activities of Literary Academytook 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 Program has been and still is developed, organized and administered by Latvian Writers’ Union.
The “Latvian Literature” platform was established in order to promote recognition of Latvian literature and its distribution abroad, thus ensuring international cooperation among publishers, literary agents, writers, translators, and organisations working in the fields of literature and publishing.
The platform was created in a partnership of three chief institutions sharing the main functions – the International Writers and Translators House, the Latvian Writers’ Union, and the Latvian Publishers’ Association.
From 10 -12 April 2018 Latvia, along with the other two Baltic States – Estonia and Lithuania –, will be participating in the London Book Fair as Market Focus country.
ResidencyVentspils House www.ventspilshouse.lv 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.
In 2017 different activities had taken place: not only in the House, but also in Ventspils town organized by the House. Literary events (concerning literature and translation): 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 not only for The Annual Latvian Literature Award but also for The International Jānis Baltvilks Baltic Sea Region Award, which is the most important literary award for achievements in children’s literature in Latvia.