General Assembly 2012
The Baltic Writers’ Council General Assembly 2012
Visby, March 30 – 31
Janina Orlov, Swedish Writers’ Union
Brita Osafo, Swedish Writers’ Union
Karl Martin Sinijärv, Estonian Writers’ Union
Piret Viires, Estonian Writers’ Union
Tor Tveite, The Norwegian Association of Literary Translators
Mudite Treimane, Latvian Writers’ Union
Yuliya Tsimafeyeva, The Union of Belarusian Writers
Liutauras Degesys, Lithuanian Writers’ Union
Kazimiera Astratoviene, Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators
Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke, German Writers’ Union
Suvi Oinonen, The Union of Finnish Writers
Tittamari Marttinen, The Union of Finnish Writers
Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen, The Finnish Association of Non-Fiction Writers
Jaana Nikula, The Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters
Anastasia Monastyrskaja, St. Petersburg Writers’ Union
Andrei Izmailov, St. Petersburg Writers’ Union
Wojciech Boros, Association of Polish Writers
Lena Pasternak, BCWT
Patrik Muskos, BCWT
Lars Magnus Lahne, BCWT
1) The Chairperson of the Council Janina Orlov opened the meeting at 13:05 on Friday March 30th.
The participants presented themselves.
2) Following some changes in the order of items, the Agenda was approved by the Assembly.
3) Ms. Orlov was elected Chairperson of the Assembly and Ms. Nikula was elected Secretary.
4) The Chairperson presented her Activity report:
Dear Colleagues and members, friends and supporters of the BWC,
It gives me great pleasure to sum up the activities of last year, since it was a very lively one. While the arrangements for the 4th Baltic Meeting were alreday well on their way, I had the opportunity to represent our organisation at a few occasions. But before that, we had our own GA in the end of March, when the Creative Union of Georgian Writers was accepted as a new member. The Visby encounter was followed by the board meeting and GA of the TSWTC at Rhodes, 5-7.5. Since the TSWTC is an organisation similar to ours, several common issues were discussed. Among them, financies, recruitment of the younger generation, and future projects such as a ”school” for young writers and translators.
In the end of May, 24-25.5 NFÖR and EWC both arranged their GAs in Turku (Finland). The economical situation in Europe and its impact on the literary field turned out as one of the most burning issues, along with copyright, digitalization and freedom of speech. The last mentioned was addressed by Yulya Tsimafeyeva, secretary of the Belarusian Writers’ Union. Her speech about the contemporary situation; the ongoing harassment of writers and journalists in Belarus resulted in an appeal to the European Parliament, which was signed by all delegates at the meeting.
Only a few weeks later, 9-11.6, the IV Baltic Meetings ”Picture this!” took place in Turku, the one of two cultural capitals of Europe last year. Since Tallinn was the other one, it seemed reasonable to organize the event as a joint venture together with Littera Baltica. Funding the participation of BWC was enabled by the Swedisgh Writer’s Union, the Swedish Arts’ Council and The Swedish Cultural Fund in Finland. The theme of the meeting was poetry and children’s literature. However the intrest among our fellow organisations was not exactly overwhelmimg and I am sad to say that I don’t think lack of money was the main reason. Nevertheless, the meeting gathered participants from five countries, namely Belarus, Estonia,Finland, Latvia and Sweden. The programme included an international match of poetry slam between Finland and Estonia. Solja Krapu, representing both Sweden and Finland won the battle, reciting in Swedish(!). Other performances included reading, singing and muiscal interludes by the Belarusian artist Sergey Pukst. More or less a whole day was dedicated to the troublesome situation of the free word in totalitarian regimes. Thought provoking presentations were given by Andrey Chadanovich, chair of the Belarusian PEN, poet and song writer, as well as by Ak Welsapar, poet from Turkmenistan, now living and working in Sweden. Children’s culture was represented by illustrator Linda Bondestam, poet Stella Parland and their musician , all from Finland. Ulf Stark and Solja Krapu wawed the Swedish flag, while Mara Cielena represented Latvia. The meeting also included an excursion to the Saari Resicdence for artists and reseachers, combined with luncheon and readings. Eventually the closure on Sunday evening consisted of dinner and ”open stage” at the museum Aboa vetus et nova. All in all, apart from some smaller disagreements along the way, the IV Baltic meeting proved successful and inspiring. New acquintances were made, professional as well as on a personal level. The expenses grew bigger than we had planned for, however, since we are not supposed to be a profitable organisation, everything is in good order.
The second part of the year was a time of contemplation, calculation and, sadly enough, observation of the Belarusian situation. As we know, things have not changed to the better. However, life must go on, and important and engaging things are constantly happening within our community. Let’s do the best we can. The planning for the V Baltic Meeting in 2013 has already started. If possible it will take place in Minsk and in Vilnius.
Ms. Nikula pointed out that if the Baltic Meeting will be arranged jointly in the future there must be a written contract between the partners to clarify all the areas of responsibilities.
Mr. Liedtke surprised the Board by announcing that a 15.000 Euros’ grant had been received by the Virtual Baltic Sea Library project. The grant had been previously applied in the name of the Council unbeknownst to the Board. A serious lack of information between the Board and the project curator was stated.
5) The translators’ E-book inquiry which was sent to thirteen (13) member-organizations in January 2012 was nothing short of a setback since only three (3) members took the time to answer. A discussion on the tasks of the Council followed. Mr. Tveite emphasized that BWC is no CEATL and should not try to be either. Intimacy and informality are the assets of the Council, he said. Ms. Astratoviene and Ms. Viires stressed the unique network-like quality of the Council.
6) Homepage was discussed. Ms. Tsimafiejeva considered the Facebook-account a vital and quick means of spreading information but the idea of developing the homepage came up as well. Mr. Liedtke and Ms. Marttinen missed the archive from the homepage. A working group to update the homepage is needed. The group will consist of two board-members and one outsider. The Chairperson, the Secretary and Ms. Tsimafiejeva were named as members.
7) BCWT was presented by Lena Pasternak the Director of BCWT. 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the Centre and there will be “party all year long” as Ms. Pasternak put it. 2012 has again been a highly active year for the Centre with 3000 guest nights. 90 percent of the guests come from the Baltic states, 8 percent from other European countries and the remaining 2 percent from China, Canada etc. The main projects were the annual poetry festival which was arranged for the 18th time in the end of August with a number of participants from China, poetry slam and various open house events which are a way of giving something back to the local community, Ms. Pasternak said. A more detailed annual report 2011 can be found athttp://www.bcwt.org/2016
8) Reports from member-organizations (Norway and Finland) followed. The session was ended at 17:20.
9) The session was resumed at 10:00 on Saturday March 31st. The Treasurer Ms. Treimane presented the budget. According to her the economics of the Council was “not bad at all”. The Assembly wanted to change the current praxis. In 2013 the budget must be send to the participants in good time before the GA. Also a list of paying members is needed i.e. a list of members entitled to vote. The voting system was discussed. Currently the countries represented in the BWC have two votes each. Mr. Tveite pointed out that since different unions often have different interests the system connected to country can easily come to a dead end. It was decided to take the voting system under scrutiny in the year 2013. The budget presented by the Treasurer was accepted.
10) The Auditors Lars Magnus Lahne and Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen gave their report. They found the books in excellent order and the Board was granted freedom of responsibility.
11) Reports from Poland, Lithuania, St. Petersburg and Estonia followed. The session was ended at 13:00
12) After lunch the Assembly headed to the Almedalen Library where Visby Book Fair took place. The Council was presented by Ms. Orlov and Ms. Pasternak. Mr. Liedtke, Mr. Boros and Mr. Sinijärv read poetry with bravura.
13) The session was resumed at 15:10. Reports from Belarus, Germany, Latvia and Sweden followed.
14) The next Baltic Meeting in the year 2013 was discussed. Plan A is to organize the meeting in Minsk with a working title Poetics & Politics. Plan B is to organize it in Vilnius with excursions to Minsk.
15) The membership fee will be 150 Euros.
16) Election of the Board members. The members of the Board retiring by rotation were the Treasurer Ms. Treimane who was willing to continue and the Secretary Ms. Nikula who was unwilling to continue. Mudite Treimane was proposed and elected as Treasurer. Tittamari Marttinen was proposed and elected as Secretary.
15) Merete Jensen and Lars Magnus Lahne were elected as Auditors. The deputies are Suvi Oinonen and Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen.
16) GWU appealed for a newsletter. The Board was asked to develop the idea and work further on it.
17) Mr. Liedtke will present the final report of the Virtual Baltic Sea Library during the next GA in 2013. Until 2012 the Library is a project of BWC.
18) The date of the next GA was settled on March 1-2 2013.
19) The session and GA was ended at 17:40. Ms. Viires thanked the Chairperson for an outstanding leadership.
Janina Orlov Jaana Nikula