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
• Reports from member-organizations (each
report max. 5 min).
MINUTES FOR THE
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
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
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
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
A Baltic Sea cooperation is going on with Estonian
Writers’ Union and Ventspils House. The application for funding has been
There are scholarships available for
Belorussian writers supported by Swedish Institute.
Estonian Writes’ Union offers 4 scholarships, also
German Translators fund offers scholarships.
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
7. 2. Marius Burokas (Lithuanian Writers
7. 3. Jegor Fetisov (St. Petersburg
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
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
7. 9. Justyna Czechowska (Polish
Association of Literary Translators )
7. 10. Viveka Sjögren (Swedish Writers’
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
- Election of the BWC
Board members: Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen (retiring by rotation), Mudite Treimane
(retiring by rotation).
- Election of an
- Other issues.
- Date of the next GA.
- Closing the GA.
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
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.
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
The GA formed a working group to prepare
this roundtable: Justyna Czechowska, Dmiti Plax, Jegor Fetisov, Taina
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
As the result of
the elections Malin Kivelä and Mudite Treimane were elected to the board.
12. Election of
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
Aleksejev (Estonian Writers Union)
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.
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.
also been active cooperation with three Baltic writers’ unions, meeting in
Riga, seminar in Käsmu. The cooperation is financed by Nordic Council.
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.
there are 327 members in the Estonian Writers’ Union, including writers, translators,
literary scholars etc.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“Red nose 2018”. This time it was awarded to the playwriter Nadezhda Ptushkina
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
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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
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)
in Finland in 2017
Lending Right Compensation
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 €
Finnish political parties committed themselves to raising the compensation and
when Finland celebrated its 100 anniversary the PLR compensation raised to 14
Annual Report of the Union of Finnish Writers
of Finnish Writers, founded in 1897, is an organization for Finnish-language
fiction writers. At the end of 2017 the Union had 765 members.
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.
had a historian working for three years to write the history of the Union. Book
named Kivelle perustettu was published last October.
services and different kind of events for writers
has a lawyer, whose main task is to help members to solve their various
professional problems with contracts, social security issues, or taxes.
eleven events were arranged and conducted by the Union for the members on
various themes and issues.
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,
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
literary awards and not less than 40 winners;
festivals, among which the women poetry festival festival “Sign of
Equality” took its place for the first time;
new books, including 7 books for children and audio books;
issues of “Literary Belarus”;
issues of “Dziejaslou”;
creative grants, 7 grant-aided students, and for the first time – 3 women
new students at the Young Writers School, 82 applications for training, more
than 4 people for one place;
seminars on authors’ rights in regions, where the new-issued brochure was
users and 162,411 hits of the web-site lit-bel.org from 10 countries of the
than 400 events all across Belarus with participation of more than 23,805
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 )
October 2015 and 23 April 2017 the Polish Literary Translators Association
(STL) has undertaken the following actions:
the annual Hieronymus Lion award to publishers friendly toward literary
translators, and awarded it to Wydawnictwo Czarne (2016) and Książkowe Klimaty
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
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
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
member Justyna Czechowska together with Kultura Liberalna foundation organized
and hosted a series literary meetings “Poddasze Kultury. Piątek: literatura”
patronage to 6 books translated and/or edited by STL members
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
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
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
organized a series of social meetings for members and friends of the
moderated the literary translators forum on Facebook
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
– ran the
association’s website and Facebook page
distributed a newsletter to STL members and sympathizers
the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators (April 2016)
member Justyna Czechowska participated in the 2016 CEATL annual general meeting
10. Viveka Sjögren (Swedish Writers’
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
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’
- 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)
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
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).
of Culture supports the membership of Latvian Writers’ Union in 3 international
organizations: BWC, EWC and Three Seas.
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
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
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
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’
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
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
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,
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.