General Assembly 2009
Visby, February 27 – March 1
Participants: Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke, Baltic Writers’ Council; Karl-Martin Sinijärv, Estonian Writers’ Union; Mudite Treimane, Latvian Writers’ Union; Merete Jensen, Society of Swedish-Speaking Writers in Finland; Mikaela Sundström, Society of Swedish- Speaking Writers in Finland; Päivi Liedes, The Union of Finnish Writers; Tuula-Liina Varis, The Union of Finnish Writers; Jaana Nikula, The Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters; Peter Curman, Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators; Janina Orlov Swedish Writers’ Union; Tor Tveite, The Norwegian Association of Literary Translators; Heinrich Bleicher- Nagelsmann, German Writers’ Union; Lena Pasternak, Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators; Lars Magnus Lahne, Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators; Liutauras Degesys, Lithuanian Writers’ Union; Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen, The Finnish Association of Non-Fiction Writers; Aksana Danilczyk, The Union of Belarusian Writers; Wolfgang Sandfuchs, Kiel Literaturhaus.
1) The Chairman of the Council Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke opened the meeting at 18:05. The participants presented themselves.
2) Following some changes in the order of items, the Agenda was approved by the Assembly.
3) Mr. Liedtke was elected Chairman of the Assembly and Ms. Nikula was elected Secretary.
4) The Board had received two membership applications, from the Finnish Association of Non-Fiction Writers and from the Union of Belarusian Writers.
Ms. Danilczyk presented the UBW with 673 members. One of the main tasks of UBW is supporting the Belarusian language. There is also another writers’ union in Belarus the task of which is supporting the government policy.
Mr. Tveite pointed out that Belarus is not mentioned in the statutes among the countries welcomed to BWC. A discussion followed. Mr. Bleicher-Nagelsmann suggested that UBW will be granted associate membership for the year 2009 with no right to vote and no obligation to pay the membership fee.
UBW was voted associate member with 6 votes, no votes against, Lithuania cast a blank vote. The Finnish Non-Fiction Writers were voted to be a member with 7 votes, no against, no blanks.
15) The voting right was discussed. In the statutes it says: “The GA shall give the countries represented in the BWC one vote each.” Ms. Varis and Mr. Tveite felt that those who pay membership fees ought to have the right to vote. Mr. Bleicher- Nagelsmann suggested a working group to go through the statutes and propose changes to the Board.
6) The Chairman gave his report.
“Fist of all, I want to share my pride with you of having received a huge honour last November, not only as a translator, but also as a cultural mediator especially acting as chairman of the BWC, by the German Government. Looking back at the four years of my chairmanship I dare say: starting from close to zero in 2005 we have been improving all the time and we have made some progress. We have come into work, and our reputation has grown steadily. But on the other hand, it takes twenty years to build up a reputation, and you can spoil it in five minutes, as US investor Warren Buffet said. So as a network we always will be vulnerable, without any regular means other than our membership fees, and it shows some of our members can not even pay the travels to our General Assembly.
During the last year the BWC has had the following timetable: At the beginning of May 2008 we received a sum of 15 000 Euros for the launch of a virtual Baltic Sea Library during a 3 days’ seminar in Ventspils, Latvia, at the end of September
My preparatory work included a travel to Turku for a meeting with the director of the City Library, and we decided to present the virtual library as one of the projects for Turku Culture Capital of Europe in 2011. From Turku I continued to Helsinki where on 18th June the BWC held a meeting at the office of the Association of Finnish- Swedish Writers in Helsinki with the working group for St. Petersburg: in all we were 8 participants under the guidance of Mikaela Sundström.
On 2nd July 2008 the BWC participated at the Best Practice Programme of the WALTIC writers’ and translators’ congress in Stockholm, right after Lena Pasternak who presented the Baltic Centre in Visby, together with Piret Viires, Jaana Nikula and Ilya Foniakov (and even Mudite Treimane) I talked about the Baltic Writers’ Council as an example for an intercultural dialogue
During the congress we also had first talks about the plans of CEATL to start a European Translators’ Fund. Thanks to Piret Viires the BWC has become an associate partner in a 2-year project, common for the centres in Visby, Ventspils and Käsmu, and we received funding from the EU for travels, our GA etc.
From 8th August onwards the news on the BWC homepage have been continuously updated by Susanne Groß in Berlin. 30th September 2008 – 3rd October: With the help of Petra Falkenberg as assistant, I held the editors’ seminar for the launch of a virtual Baltic Sea Library at the International Writers’ and Translators’ House Ventspils with 17 participants from all the countries of the Baltic Sea area, scholars, writers, translators and the managers of the Latvian Authors’ Society who were keen on ‘licensing’
the forthcoming digital library. The goal is to figure out our common ground in our literary neighbourhood, in all our literatures, from Medieval times onwards. And interesting enough there are strong ties e.g. with the Icelandic saga literature towards the shores of the Southern Baltic, in Courland or the island of Wolin. I would ask you to read more in the minutes of the meeting, written by professor emeritus Clas Zilliacus, on our homepage. We have also had help to build up a register of translators between all our Baltic languages, especially from Lithuania, Latvia and the Finnish Literature Information Centre, and this register will be needed in case we want to produce new translations of older texts. The support for a pilot project received from the Nordic Council of Ministers seems a very strong signal for us to go on, but of course, co-financing is needed. Therefore we submitted a new application to The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation for the database of the Virtual Library on 11th February 2009 (after talks with professor Ebba Witt- Brattström and professor emeritus Clas Zilliacus). We even submitted an application to the Swedish Arts’ Council, so we have the chance to apply at the Nordic Council of Ministers on 9th March for a 3-years-project.
In connection with the Waltic congress Jaana Nikula was in touch with representatives from the Belarussian writers’ association, and on 22nd December I met Henrik Enbohm at the Swedish Writers’ Union to discuss how we could integrate the new Belarussian writers’ association which has moved from Vilnius to Minsk. Henrik was about to pay a personal visit in Minsk on 8th January and promised to deliver an application from them.
So, in due time we received new applications for membership from the Finnish Association of Non-fiction writers as well as from the Literary Society of Belarus in Minsk. These two applications are up for decision. And we have renewed our contact with the Polish Writers’ Association.
Last not least on 15th January we received the message from the Swedish Academy that they will support the Baltic Meetings in St. Petersburg with 50 000 Swedish crowns. From the Nordic Council we have received 3000 Euros.
But on 13th February the shocking news reached us from St. Petersburg that the support for the Baltic Meetings by the city government has been cancelled due to the economical crisis! I have still not received an official letter, but considering the facts that even other plans in St. Petersburg have been cancelled because of the crisis: a new zoo will not be built now, the construction of new kindergartens, hospitals or metro stations has been stopped, this decision does not really come as a surprise. Now we have to reconsider our decision of last year whether we should pay a visit to Russia or not. We have a list of 23 participants who have announced their participation to the Baltic Meetings, some might have booked their travel to Helsinki already, where we have reserved rooms and with the help of FILI, the Finnish Literature Information Centre, want to arrange a welcome party on 7th June. But now the whole event has to be re- thought and re-discussed during these days. Even more important: during these last two years our strive has been to unfold our hidden potential, our diversity. I am totally happy with the fact that we are now having a secretariat in Helsinki now dealing with the preparatory work for the Baltic Meetings, and at the same time I could concentrate on preparing the applications for the Virtual Library of the Baltic Sea Area. Now we have to decide about how to focus our manifestation in St. Petersburg (or wherever): should we only perform our literature or shall we also stress our cross-border function? I.e. include discussion about environmental questions and the free word in Russia? We have met a huge interest in Sweden in a co-operation between biologists and writers, the Nordic Gene Bank (NordGen Plants) wants to support both the construction of a Baltic network and a joint effort in the frame work of our Baltic Meetings. It could even be thought of to combine our literary and our biological heritage. As a cross-border result of the Baltic Meetings in Kaliningrad, I can mention the exhibition Hanna Sjöberg has shown in Kaliningrad on the biography of D. B., which will continue this year in Saxonia, next year in Potsdam and Tensta konsthall in Stockholm. By the way, the calendar she designed was a great success, it was really appreciated e.g. by the Swedish Academy.
For the next term I would suggest an activity plan which includes a newsletter to be published 4 times a year, as we (or the Baltic Centre) did during the nineties, both as a reminder of changes on our homepage and for shaping a cultural platform with reciprocal links, also to the Centre in Visby and to other organisers of cultural events in the Baltic Sea area. In this connection I can also mention that we have a blogg at our disposal now, which came into being in connection with the launch of the virtual library. Looking back at my working term during the last two years I want to thank my board members, Piret Viires, Jaana Nikula and Mudite Treimane for all your effort, and I want to conclude by saying that we indeed have cooperated very well. We have quite a good reputation, we are considered as an important player in the Baltic Sea region (which is shown e.g. by a letter of support from the German Foreign Ministry), but we must improve our importance for our member unions by shaping an information platform for literary activities along our coasts.
With these results, I think I have done what was possible and am ready to step back as chairman of the BWC. During the last twelve years I have been working for our means, and I think a younger generation should take over. But I am ready to stay on in the board as a ‘senior adviser’.”
The situation of Baltic Meetings was discussed. Mr. Curman suggested Vyborg instead of St.Petersburg. Petroskoi and Tallinn were also mentioned. The first session was ended at 19:50.
7) The session was resumed at 9:40 on Saturday February 28. The Treasurer Ms. Treimane presented the Board’s proposal for gradual raising of membership fees: 200 euros for the wealthier organizations, 100 euros for those of modest means. In 2009 those paying only 100 euros would be Poland, Kaliningrad, Iceland, Lithuania (both member organizations), Latvia and St.Petersburg. The proposal was voted through by 6 votes, Estonia was absent. The invoices will be sent out after GA, term of payment 60 days. If necessary, reminders will be sent out in November.
8) The Treasurer then presented the budget proposal for 2009. Ms. Liedes and Mr. Tveite missed the balance which was not presented. The separate budget of Baltic Meetings raised some questions. Ms. Sundström explained that since the Baltic Meetings is a separate projected which is not managed via Visby it should have a budget of its own. Mr. Pietiäinen drew his proposal for a draft budget based on the discussion and presented it to the GA. Mr. Sinijärv arrived at 11:10.
9) The Baltic Meetings was discussed. Ms. Sundström reported shortly on the withdrawal of the City of St.Petersburg. Mr. Curman felt the Meeting should be held anyway e.g. in Vyborg. Mr. Sinijärv suggested Tallinn and Narva. After a lively discussion the plan was shaped in the following way:
– Baltic Meetings in Narva, June 8-11 2009. – the meeting begins and ends in Tallinn. – open to more than two participants per organization. – a bank account for the project will be opened in
Tallinn. – the project will be lead from Tallinn by the representatives of Estonian Writers’ Union.
The Chairman wished for the environmental questions to remain in the Meeting’s program. Mr. Curman reminded of the long and dramatic history of Narva and wished for a quest speaker (e.g. Mr. Mart Laar) to participate the Meeting.
10) In 2011 both Turku and Tallinn will be European Culture Capitals thus the Baltic Meetings of 2011 was decided to organize in Turku together with Littera Baltica.
11) The Director of Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators Ms. Pasternak gave her report which emphasized the Centre’s unique international character as a working place and a meeting point of the writers and translators. The Chairman reminded of the co-operation projects between the Centre and BWC i.a the Bobrowski and Tranströmer seminars.
The roles of BCWT and BWC were discussed. Ms. Orlov and Mr. Lahne noted on frequent misunderstandings and confusions when the Centre and the Council have not been counted as two separate bodies. To define the relations between BCWT and BWC was found necessary. The second session was ended at 12:55.
12) The session was resumed at 14:30. The Auditors Ms. Jensen and Mr. Lahne gave their report which they had jointly signed. The Board was granted freedom of responsibility. The Auditors misses the annual report and assumed it to be sent to the member organizations. And when it comes to the Ventspils project the Auditors expected to see a decision in the minutes about the fee paid to the Chairman.
The GA decided to send the annual report together with the balance in advance to all the member organizations before next year’s GA. The voting was unanimous with seven votes.
13) The country reports followed in the alphabetical order. Estonia presented no report but Mr. Sinijärv invited the participants to the Tallinn Literature Festival in May 12-18.
Ms.Liedes the Director of the Union of Finnish Writers presented the new artist’s insurance system in Finland:
“From the beginning of this year writers and other artists (and scholars) have to take for themselves insurance (pension and disability for work) if they got a grant for artist work at least 4 months and 1100 € (annual minimum level 3.300 €/09). They have to pay this insurance premiums and its amount is 11 – 14 % of adopted annual grant. They can take this premium off his/her annual taxation. On the base of this insurance they have also right to get allowances for maternity, parental and sickness and compensation in accident. – More details www.mela.fi – The organizations of artists have fought for this over 10 years, so we are very pleased.
In Finland artists have to take another obligatory insurance concerning annual earning of his/her work like publishing. Premium for that is about 21 %.
Authors’ rights are still in difficulties in Finland
In December 2007 our government of the state decided to leave the administration of copyright legislation at the Ministry of Culture (it has been there from the very beginning) after the hard fight between authors and on the other side our government and users of copyrights. They wanted to move it to the Ministry of Trade, Labor and Industry. Very far from the authors!
Now our own Minister of Culture, Stefan Wallin, has taken his place against authors. He wants to do changes to copyright law for the benefit of users, middlemen and consumers. Our bit fight continues!
Last year artists` organizations (writer, translator, composer, fine art) were very busy with project to get unemployment benefits for artists. We made good progress with the Ministry of Labor but our work still continues.
In spite of global economic crises or for its sake the selling of fiction books was very good ( + 4,8% and children books 7,1 %). Finnish publishing houses will wait for sill better selling this year. – An average price of Finnish fiction book is 30 €.”
Mr. Pietiäinen from the Finnish Association of Non-Fiction Writers pointed out that the “writers of non-fiction and textbooks rank low in the Finnish cultural funding hierarchy. Non-fiction writers receive only 10 per cent of the library grants awarded, and textbook writers none. The public lending right approved in 2007 covers only loans from public libraries, to the exclusion of research and educational libraries.”
The German report was presented by Mr. Blaicher-Nagelsmann, the General Director of German Writers’ Union.
“The Verband deutscher Schriftsteller VS at ver.di held a joint writers’ conference together with the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) in Accra, Ghana from 9 – 12 February 2008 with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. This successful encounter and extremely interesting intercultural exchange came about upon the initiative of the VS. Funding for the meeting was provided by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During his tour of Africa, Foreign Minister Frank- Walter Steinmeier took the opportunity to meet in Accra with the Chairman of VS, Imre Török, and the Secretary General of PAWA, Professor Atukwei Oka, and was informed about the results of the writers’ meeting. The members of the German delegation included Annelies Schwarz, who writes books for young people, and the authors Jürgen Jankofsky and Imre Török, Chairman of the VS. The main topics of the conference were the conditions under which literature is produced, issues relating to copyright and the role of writers and how they are organised in society. It was agreed in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ that both sides would continue the intercultural dialogue. One concrete result produced by the writers’ meeting was to begin planning of readings by authors to schoolchildren in Accra. The meeting was held in the context of the VS ‘Africa Project’, which was started at the 2007 Frankfurt Book Fair. For further information, please go to: https://vs.verdi.de/projekte/afrika/konferenz_in_ghana.
Burnt – forgotten On the anniversary marking the burning of books by the Nazis on 10 May 1933, the VS staged another interesting event at the Academy of Arts in Berlin together with the Börsenverein des deutschen Buchhandels and PEN. The keynote speaker at the event, which was entitled ‘Literature burning at the stake – spirit in the flames’, was German President Horst Köhler. Authors and actors read texts of authors whose works had been burned. Upon the initiative of the VS, two school classes then gave presentations on their activities – the climax of the event. To wrap up the event, Imre Török, Chairman of the VS, presented the schoolchildren the first copies of a ‘Library of Burnt Books’, which has just been created, for their library. You can find additional information regarding this on the VS website: http://vs.verdi.de/projekte/verbrannt_und_vergessen/veranstaltun gen_2008 The VS regional associations have carried out similar campaigns in other German Länder in a project dubbed ‘Burnt. Forgotten?’
Writing competition The VS seized the opportunity of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 2008 to announce and carry out a literary writing contest for young people. The 12 winners selected by a jury were able to take part in a creative writing workshop at the Clara Sahlberg Education Centre at the end of 2008. The writing competition and workshop were carried out together with Amnesty International and supported with funding from the Commissioner for Culture and Media. The entire event was a huge success and met with the approval of everybody involved therein. Documentation containing selected works will be produced in due course.
The VS Chairman, Imre Török, was one of the most important guests at the main event marking the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, held in Berlin with Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier on 12 December. You will find additional information on the event at: https://vs.verdi.de/projekte/schreibwettbewerb.
Google settlement The settlement reached in October 2008 by Google and the U.S. Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) on titles protected by copyright in the Google book-search programme has received considerable attention all over the world. The dispute preceding the settlement was triggered by the digitisation of the complete book collections of the biggest American libraries by Google. This is now to attain legality through the settlement between Google and the American Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers, which also extends to copyrights of foreign authors and publishing houses. There are also tens of thousands of German-language book titles among the 7 million books covered by the settlement. Google is currently informing holders of copyright and publishing houses in Germany, Austria and Switzerland about the settlement and the planned mode of procedure in newspaper announcements and the Internet. The VS had repeatedly voiced its protest against this “cold expropriation”, noting how it would affect the social and economic situation of authors. An initial meeting took place between American representatives of Google, a representative of the Authors Guild and the VS/ver.di representatives Bleicher-Nagelsmann, Schimmel and Franke in Berlin at the beginning of the year. The highly informative talks served primarily to resolve various issues in connection with the settlement and the consequences for German authors. The end result was that Google offered to enter into negotiations to preserve and uphold the rights and interests of German copyright holders. We are now preparing the steps which need to be taken in this direction.
Negotiations on fees by the professional department for translators in ver.di Following the resumption of negotiations with Random House (Bertelsmann) in November 2007, the chances for a possible agreement under copyright law appeared to have come within reach. However, in February 2008 the Fee Committee rejected the preliminary agreement which had been negotiated. The Negotiating Committee was then assigned an extended mandate and a specific negotiating mission. Gradual progress was achieved in a new round of negotiations held at the end of April. The Fee Committee then recommended that the negotiated result be accepted at the beginning of June.
A heated discussion and at times open dispute then broke out among members and also in some cases in articles in the trade press in the run-up to the Members’ Annual Meeting in September 2008. Although those favouring acceptance of the agreement do not consider all demands to have been met, they are of the opinion that the foundations have been created for viable arrangements for the future. Those opposed to accepting the agreement argued that a ruling by the Federal German Supreme Court should first be awaited. A decision by the High Court is not to be expected before June 2009. Nor can anyone say whether this ruling will be positive or not. In essence, the case will furthermore only have an effect on part of the conditions which have been negotiated. The Members’ Annual Meeting rejected the fee arrangements which were negotiated, by a vast majority. Exploratory discussions by the newly elected Chairman, Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel, have to date not produced any prospects for a possible better agreement.”
Ms. Treimane gave the Latvian report, here in its entirety:
“During last year just as during the previous years Latvian Writers’ Union has been engaged in 3 annual projects: The Literary Award, The Poetry Days and The Cultural Programme ‘Literary Academy’. The main sponsor of these projects was State Culture Capital Foundation with some co-financing.
The annual Literary Award is given in 9 nominations. The Awarding ceremony takes place not only in Riga, but also in the largest towns of Latvia – in Ventspils, Liepaja and Jurmala. 67 books and authors were nominated last year. Another annual tradition is Poetry Days (Poetry Festival), taking place all over Latvia, lasting approx. two weeks in September. Last year 40 different literary events in Riga and elsewhere in Latvia took place. The working group of Writers’ Union organized 25 events, but the rest of them were organized in co-operation with other cultural institutions. For the first time 40 people were engaged in the working group – both as organizers and contractors and volunteers. Last year the record was set up as to the number of events and the attention of mass media: it was 3 times more than previous years. It was the greatest poetry festival ever. The main goal was to offer public different literary activities of high quality, in order to get to know better not only Latvian poets but also the foreign ones and become acquainted with their works, recently published books, the new perspectives and current tendencies. Different performances and other projects, where poetry is connected with another branches of art/culture, for instance, theatre, music, video, were very interesting. A special event of Poetry Festival 2008 was series of readings The poet speaks with the participation of 3 different generations of poets. The performances of (foreign) guests were very successful. Awards of Poetry Days are traditionally given for the best poetry book and for the best translated poetry. The third poetry CD Poesis Inflatio was presented during Poetry Days at SEB bank. 500 people visited this event, and each of them got a disk. The poetry CD are distributed free of charge. The interest and participation of schools in poetry events last year was greater than previous years. The cultural programme ‘Literary Academy’ administrated by Latvian Writers’ Union and financed by State Culture Capital Foundation successfully continues to give the possibilities to authors – both the young and the experienced ones – to develop their professional skills. In this programme the Writers’ Union’s co-operation with the Faculty of Philology and several museums had been very important, because they had given the premises for lectures and seminars. Within the framework of this programme the following activities had taken place:
1) Regular individual literary consultations at the premises of Writers’ Union had been available in poetry, prose and drama for all who were interested in writing. 170 authors and 150 directors of non-professional theatres had used this possibility last year. The poetry adviser has made trips to 10 places in Latvia where local literary groups had been very active.
2) 56 lectures and seminars and 48 workshops – 16 workshops in poetry, 16 in prose and 16 in drama – were organized to improve writers’ skills at the Faculty of Philology. During the workshops 28 literary works (11 in poetry, 12 in prose and 5 in drama) have been written. As a result of the workshops 3 books have been published (in cooperation with digital publishers Wwaow.com).
3) The seminar for writers-beginners has more than 60 years old history. Last year 75 applications were sent in and after the evaluation of a professional jury 20 best applicants – 8 poets, 4 prose writers, 4 playwrights and 4 translators – were invited for 11 days seminar in April/May.
4) The creative summer seminar for young people is a project for pupils who are interested in writing which has taken place for 3 decades already. Last year 31 young author younger than 20 was invited to participate in this creative summer seminar, lasting 6 days.
5) Regional literary unions have had their 3rd seminar in Riga with the participation of representatives from 7 regional literary unions.
Ventspils’ International Writers’ and Translators’ House or Ventspils’ House: The information about Ventspils’ House, opened at 2006, is available on home page www.ventspilshouse.lv. About it’s activities one can read in Minutes 2007 & 2008 of BWC.
Last year has been very successful and rich with many events at Ventspils’ House. More than 220 guests from 33 countries have stayed at Ventspils’ House. All the rooms are nearly booked for 2009 and people apply for staying at the House in 2010. Ventspils’ House together with Latvian Writers’ Union, a. o. institutions has organized Baltic Book Fair last spring.
Together with Latvian Literature Centre and international literary institutions Ventspils’ House has organized different seminars on translation. The co-operation with Goethe Institut in Riga has been successful as well. There is still a common project with BCWT and Estonian Writers’ Union on European programme Culture 2007-2013. In September the international prize SILVER INKPOT was given for the first time. Ventspils’ House has close co-operation with Ventspils’ cultural institutions and authorities
On September 29 – October 3 at Ventspils’ House an international editors’ seminar Virtual Baltic See Library took place; it was first meeting for a long lasting project: to facilitate the installation of a virtual library of the literary heritage of the Baltic Sea region, both in originals and translations. The organizer of the seminar was Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke (BWC).
The top event of Latvian literary life has been participation at Gothenburg Book Fair as guest country where Latvian Writers’ Union, Latvian Literature Centre and Ventspils’ House worked hard in order to present Latvian literature, books and translations, to prepare seminars and discussions. During 4 days 50 different events took place both at Latvian Book Stall and in the seminar rooms. Even outside the Book Fair the vast cultural programme was available – literary evenings, exhibitions, video- art presentations.”
Mr. Degesys from Lithuania noted that BWC should organize more activities and be more visible. Here’s his report:
“The Main Recent Events in Literary and Cultural Life of Lithuania
THE LITHUANIAN WRITERS’ UNION plays an important role in organizing Lithuanian’s literary life. Every Year the Writers’ Club that is the division of our Union organizes about 150 literary events, readings, presentations, meetings and activities. The Writers’ Union Publishers is one of the largest publishing houses and every year publishes the largest amount of books by Lithuanian writers. THE LITHUANIAN WRITERS’ UNION participates in numerous projects and grants literary awards.
The Druskininkai Poetic Fall – 2008
More than 100 participants from Lithuania and 20 participants from other countries were presented at this fiesta of poetry, organized by Kornelijus Platelis and Co. We have had guests – poets from USA, Ireland, Spain, Poland, Canada, Russia, Austria, France, Germany, Belarus, Latvia and Hungary. The works of all of these poets along with translations into Lithuanian were published in the almanac Druskininkai Poetic Fall.
The Vilnius International Book Fair – 2008 and 2009
The Vilnius International Book Fair has become one of the significant cultural events in Lithuania. At the Vilnius International Book Fair – 2008 there were presented literature and book publishing as well as other fields of cultural and public life of Lithuania. 58 000 visitors attended the fair that year and 250 participants from six countries took part in this book fair.
At the Vilnius International Book Fair – 2008 were held 200 cultural events and 14 foreign writers and 80 Lithuanian writers were presented. One of the special guests featuring in the book fair was American writer John Irving.
56 000 visitors attended the Vilnius International Book Fair – 2009 and 240 participants from 12 countries took part in this book fair. Some popular writers such as Frédéricas Beigbeder Andrei Makine gave promises to participate at the book fair but not the all of them kept their promises.
Spring of Poetry
International festival Poetry Spring 2008 has started at May 18 in Vilnius University Botanical gardens with the happening ‘I believe in Flowers’ and wishing good luck to the almanac Poetry Spring 2008 at the book house„Vaga.
More than 150 cultural events, readings, activities were arranged and thousands of readers have visited readings hours, forenoons, festival-contests, poetical-musical compositions that were held on the trains, railway stations, trolley busies, at ferries, castles, just schools, pubs, libraries, kindergartens, foreign embassies, museums, courtyards, municipalities, fortresses, memorial houses, gymnasiums, palaces, chapels, churches and right under the blooming trees. There were presented guests – writers from Czech Republic, France, Croatia, Ireland, Poland, Swiss, Sweden, and Germany. Festival went beyond the space and time boarders and there were readings under the umbrella of International festival Poetry Spring 2008 in Germany, Ireland, Poland and Belgium and Luxembourg.
THE LITHUANIAN WRITERS’ UNION is financed mainly through the Ministry of Culture and different funds. Some money is applied from different international foundations. THE LITHUANIAN WRITERS’ UNION still possess some real estate: ownership of a house in Vilnius old town. We are renting out some rooms to a coffee-house and cultural institutions.
THE LITHUANIAN WRITERS’ UNION still has villa in Palanga and Nida, but they are in really bad shape and are in the step of disappearance – because of no money for restoring. We would accept any proposals of cooperation in the international projects of building international writers centers or Center for Baltic Writers’ Council.
Suggestions, proposals, ways to be involved and recommendations for the future cooperation and collaboration inside and outside the Baltic Writers’ Council:
Inside the Baltic Writers’ Council it should be created virtual BWC Network on the web site – may be in the format of on-line newsletter – open, interactive. This web site should have the creative, professional administrator – facilitator (professional not only in the computers). This permanent web network should interact with members of Baltic Writers’ Council and at least should inform about the activities and should be linked to national and other international institutions.
All national and international activities (future, present and past) somehow related to the BWC should be reported on these web sites. Inside the Baltic Writers’ Council it may be organized some activities like the workshops or summer universities for intellectuals and theoreticians from Writers Unions, Universities, and policy makers from national Cultural ministries. Then international teams and networks of intellectuals and theoreticians, practitioners and policy makers may be created.
It should be fruitful to have the mass media involved in advertising Baltic Writers’ Council ideas and activities. Book award – of BWC – it may be symbolic in amount of money, but honourable. Ideas of being BWC more visible and more powerful.”
Mr. Tveite from Norway reported as follows:
“The Norwegian Association of Literary Translators (NO) was founded in 1948, and is today one of four bodies organising translators in Norway. The Association has 288 members translating from altogether 48 languages.
General activities, negotiations and policy making A new standard contract with the publisher’s association was signed in 2006. In general, the contract seems to be used and respected by all the parties concerned. An English translation of the contract can be found on http://oversetterforeningen.no/media/Standard_contract_translati ons.pdf
We are still negotiating a contract for the use of translations in ‘Tanum book clubs’, a result of the merger of two of Norway’s largest publishing houses, Cappelen (owned by Bonnier) and Damm (owned by Egmont). The new Pocketforlaget, a joint venture between the second largest publisher, Aschehoug, and the smaller Pax, is based on pocket reprints of titles from other publishers, and thus represents a new mode of publishing. Our negotiations with Pocketforlaget have as yet not been concluded. The publisher CappelenDamm has announced that they will establish a similar pocket reprint channel.
Our agreement with the Association of Norwegian Theatres and Orchestras was renegotiated in 2008.
Training and membership benefits The annual three day autumn seminar was attended by nearly a third of the members.
The one year course Flerstemt (Polyphony) for potential translators from various immigrant languages was held for the second time, with 10 students completing the course and one of the students’ texts being published. The course is planned as an irregularly recurring undertaking.
The website www.nettverkstedet.no, run in collaboration with the other translators’ associations, has been up and running since 2002. This virtual workshop offers various services, including online access to encyclopaedias and all the main Norwegian dictionaries, various essays and a lot more.
In the autumn of 2008, NO bought an apartment in Berlin. NO’s members can rent the apartment for one or more weeks, based on bi-yearly applications.
The association organised a members’ trip to China in connection with FIT’s congress in Shanghai.
Visibility In connection with the association’s 60th anniversary, an open seminar was arranged at the House of Literature in Oslo, with contributions from several translators and writers.
The association contributed to the ‘translator’s hour’ at the annual Norwegian Festival of Literature in Lillehammer, this year in cooperation with NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad). Together with NFF (The Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association), NO was also present with a stand at the new national book fair in Lillestrøm, in addition to hosting three mini-seminars.
In cooperation with Oslo’s municipal library, NO organised a two-day seminar called Verden på norsk (‘The world in Norwegian’), primarily aimed at librarians.
As usual NO’s annual translation prize Bastian was awarded in two categories.
International NO is a member of CEATL (Conseil Européen des Associations de Traducteurs Littéraires), the EWC (European Writers’ Congress), the Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Council, the Baltic Writers’ and Translators’ Council and the FIT.
Internationally NO is engaged in projects in Palestine, Georgia, Italy and Russia. The association also contributed to the seminar Publishing and Copyright – an International Survey at FIT’s congress in Shanghai.”
Mr. Sinijärv pointed pout that the sun was about to set and missing the sunset of Visby would be a foolish thing to do. The third session was ended at 16.55 and the participants wandered out to admire the sun and the sea.
14) The session was resumed on Sunday March 1 at 9:35. The Swedish report was given by Ms. Orlov.
“The past year has been a very active one for The Swedish Writers’ Union. An important issue has been our extensive efforts to make our government understand that authors need better protection through our copyright legislation in order to become a stronger contracting partner towards different users of the works created by our authors for instance within the book publishing field. Therefore the union has presented in 2006 a detailed proposal for amendments to chapter three of the Swedish copyright act making the author a stronger contracting party and making it mandatory for the publishing companies to enter into negotiations with the Swedish Writers’ Union concerning acceptable minimum standards for publishing contracts. Our proposal is inspired by the proposal made in May 2001 by the German government. Unfortunately what finally came out of the initial German proposal was a much weaker legislation than the one originally proposed.
Much work has also been carried out in order to strengthen the Swedish legislation concerning our public libraries. In 2006, the union created a new policy document for our public libraries, which for instance has been distributed to the Swedish municipalities. Emphasis has been laid on our demand for better libraries within the school sector. Our members have also taken part in local and regional activities in support of better public libraries. It should be mentioned that the public libraries in the Nordic countries are well equipped and more than 60 per cent of the population visit them every year. In an international context this is record-breaking figures.
An investigation has been carried out by the union concerning our members’ income during the year 2004. As many as 68 per cent of our members answered to the questions posed. The results that we now have give a clear view concerning the social and economical difficulties for writers and literary translators to make a living out of their creative work. The results constitute a valid platform for our demands for better cultural policies and state support for the literary craftsmen of our country.
Our union is also actively engaged in the work of Swedish collecting societies within the fields of photocopying, satellite broadcasting, blank tape levy etc. And of course issues raised by the possibilities of digital production, dissemination and consumption of protected works are discussed and handled both on the principle level and in the day to day work by the union’s legal advisors.
Our contacts with writers and writers’- and translators’ organisations outside Sweden are very lively. The Swedish Writers’ Union is actively engaged in the work of The European Writers’ Congress (EWC), where former managing director of the union, John Erik Forslund, has recently been elected President. The preparations for WALTIC (Writers’ and Literary Translators’ International Congress, 29 June-2 July 2008) have been a main focus during 2007. The themes of the congress, hosted by The Swedish Writers’ Union, are literacy, intercultural dialogue and digitalization, and the seminar program will hold up to 100 seminars and 60 invited speakers from all over the world. The Swedish Writers’ Union has gained support for WALTIC from numerous sources, among them Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), Swedish National Commission for Unesco and the Swedish Institute. Another international project that will hopefully start in 2008 is a Swedish/Belarusian cooperation which will aim to support the Belarusian Writers’ Union and to arrange several activities in Sweden and Belarus for writers and translators.”
A discussion on the Swedish inquiry on cultural policy followed. The Council drew up the following appeal which was read aloud in Stockholm the next day (March 2nd)during the manifestation arranged by the Swedish Writers’ Union.
“The Baltic Writers’ Council is a coalition of all the writers’ and translators’ organizations around the Baltic Region. The Swedish inquiry on cultural policy and the plan to deprive Authors’ Fund its autonomy and to put it under a new single authority was discussed last weekend during the Council’s General Assembly. The autonomous Swedish Authors’ Fund has served as a model to all the member countries of the Baltic Writers’ Council and the Council protests strongly against the plans to annex the Authors’ Fund and to diminish the authors’ rights to decide over their own means.”
15) The quest speaker Mr. Sandfuchs from the Literaturhaus Kiel presented both the house and the Halma network. More information can be found in Appendix 1, 2 and 3.
16) Mr. Curman reported on the upcoming conference between the Israeli and Palestinian writers which will take place in Rhodes fall 2009. More information aboutfrom Three Seas Writers and Translators Committees homepage www.tswtc.org.
17) Before the elections Mr. Curman pointed out that an electional committee should be established.
18) Merete Jensen and Lars Magnus Lahne were elected as Auditors. The substitutes are Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen (for Ms. Jensen) and Lena Pasternak (for Mr. Lahne).
19) Janina Orlov was elected as Chairperson. Mr. Liedtke was thanked for his work with speeches and presents.
20) Hannu Niklander from Finland, Tor Tveite from Norway and Karl-Martin Sinijärv from Estonia were proposed as board members. A voting followed. Mr. Liedtke and Ms. Orlov counted the ballotpapers. Mr. Niklander received 4 votes, Mr. Sinijärv 4 votes and Mr. Tveite 6 votes.
In re-voting Mr. Niklander received 3 votes and Mr. Sinijärv 4 votes. Thus the new board members were Tor Tveite and Karl- Martin Sinijärv.
21) Equally two members were voted to the Centre’s board. Mr. Niklander, Ms. Treimane, Mr. Tveite and Mr. Sinijärv were proposed. On voting Mr. Tveite received 5 votes, Ms. Treimane 4 votes, Mr. Sinijärv 3 votes and Mr. Niklander 2 votes. The board members with their substitutes are Tor Tveite (Hannu Niklander)and Mudite Treimane (Karl-Martin Sinijärv).
22) The three persons to represent BWC at the St.Petersburg Book Fair are Ms. Orlov, Ms. Pasternak and Mr. Sinijärv (provided he can squeeze the trip in his schedule).
23) The working group to revive the statutes consists of Mr. Tveite, Mr. Bleicher-Nagelsmann and Ms. Jensen.
24) The date of the next GA is March 26 – 28 2010. End of the fourth session and the GA at 12:25.
Janina Orlov Chairperson
Jaana Nikula Secretary
Wolfgang Sandfuchs, Halma literature network in Europe
Halma – the name of this pan-European literature network is inspired by the eponymous boardgame invented by American plastic surgeon George Howard Monks, today known as `Chinese Checkers’. The objective of the game is to diagonally get all one’s pieces across to the opposing side, instead of knocking out the opposing pieces. The metaphor adapts to the Halma network, whose figures coming from different literature scenes across different countries work together in Europe. The network is comprised of authors, translators and publishers who contribute to the branding of a European literature. The network was founded in November 2006 by the Literary Colloquium Berlin (LCB), in co-operation with the German Robert Bosch Stiftung foundation and the Borderland Foundation from the town of Sejny, north-eastern Poland. With representatives in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Activity was in the beginning focussed mostly in central and eastern Europe. But Halma is now spreading in the direction of western Europe. After the `Writers House’ in the Finnish university city of Yväskylä, the Logvinov Publishing House in Minsk and the M.E.E.T. (Maison des Écrivains Étrangers et des Traducteurs, or `House of Foreign Writers and Translators’) from Saint-Nazaire in France and the Passa Porta International House of Literature in Brussels were set up in 2008. Houses in Switzerland, Wales, Ireland and Italy are the last members accepted in a meeting in the end of 2008, where also was decided to close the network for two or three vears to strengthen the process of working together. What means working together? Via projects of HALMA institutions, the granting of scholarships and the organization of public events in all participating countries, HALMA creates transnational structures for European literature.Halma is more than just a network, as it develops more concrete initiatives. Grants: Writers, translators and journalists can apply for two- month scholarships of i, o0o euros (£792) per month, allowing them to travel to other national Halma bases and present their work there. After the trip, scholarship winners collect their experiences together in an essay published in Halma’s online library. Several scholarships have already been awarded for exampel to the likes of Swiss writer Urs Faes, Albanian Fatos Kongoli, Angolan Filipa Melo, German Annette Mingels and Austrian Richard Obermayr, who are in the 30 – 5o age range.
The actual number we have on the website. Important for us is, that all of the grantholders have the possibility for public presentations during the scholarship and that at the end of the scholarship, every holder may publish via the HALMA network. This publication is a literary text or essay which deals with experiences made in the context of the scholarship, or topics of the Halma network. It may also be an extract of a translation made in the context of the scholarship. All of these works are collected and published in the online library of Halma
Projects: HALMA makes possible cooperations which used to be hindered by the lack of supranational structures or the mere knowledge of potential partners. The network does not only offer information about partners, but is itself available as an initiator and partner for European initiatives and scholarships. Within this network it is possible to coordinate projects of the instituional members. It enables leading figures from national literary scenes to work together at a range of venues in Europe, to discuss and revisit their aesthetic and ethical positions regarding perceptions of foreigners as friends and equal partners in the European project. It is not necessary that all of the members participate in the projects. If there is an initiaive of one member others can decide to participate or not. And for to give an impulse for such projects the network now was closed for some time.
THE HALMA SCHOLARSHIP
The HALMA scholarship wants to enable and to deepen cooperation between the literary scenes of different European countries. Holders of a HALMA scholarship establish ties with colleagues beyond national borders. They are both ambassadors and connecting links between their native and their host countries. The establishment of relations between guests and hosts should function and continue to grow beyond the duration of the scholarship itself.
HALMA organizes scholarships for writers, translators and promoters ofliterature. Each scholarship lasts for two months, and includes a grant holder’s stay in at least two different host countries. Usually grant holders spend one month in the first host country and then travel to a second one. It is possible, however, to travel to more than two countries within these two months. Each grant holder receives 1000 Euro a month and is granted a travel budget of 750 Euro total. Grant holders are selected by their respective home country in collaboration with HALMA. An application is not possible. Grant holders spend their time in places with unique approaches to the country’s or region’s literature. Some houses attend to the heritage of a particular writer, others are directly associated wih publishing houses, are run by writers’ associations, are devoted to the promotion of translators, or connect all or many of these approaches. The HALMA institutions actively care for the scholarship holders and introduce them to their host country’s literary scene. Additionally, the houses provide various insights into the culture and history of their country or region. Moreover, HALMA scholarship holders get the chance to present their work to their host countries’ public. Each scholarship includes the organization of two events (readings, workshops or lectures). It is left to the dynamism of the stay and the author’s personal interest to determine the concrete specifics of the event.
Appendix 2 Wolfgang Sandfuchs, European Festival of the first novel
For the seventh time, new prose from ten European countries forms the heart of the European Festival of the First Novel. Ten novelists and their editors as well as other professionals of the literary world will be gathering in Schleswig-Holstein to discuss writing and publishing, to acquaint themselves with new novels, and maybe pave the way for translation. With this intention the festival, initiated in 2003 by the Centre Culturel Français de Kiel and the Literaturhaus Schleswig-Holstein, is a combination of an expert conference on European first novels, held at Landeskulturzentrum Salzau, and a public reading by all participating authors at the Literaturhaus in Kiel. Over the years 60 writers and 47 publishers from 16 countries have taken the opportunity to present current first novels. From Norway to Hungary, from Finland to Spain, participants have made their way to Schleswig-Holstein. Four or five of the participants always com from countries around the Baltic Sea, three form mediterranean countries. This has been made possible by the generous efforts of the Land Schleswig- Holstein, the Bureau du Livre of the French embassy, and numerous other public institutions from the partner countries which strive to promote literature. In 2005, due to its scope from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean the festival earned a place among the Ars Baltica projects. From the start a network for authors and publishers of future European literature has come into existence, and it is steadily growing. In fact, some of the presented first novels have meanwhile been translated into various languages. The initiators’ original idea of strengthening the role of literature as the most prominent promoter of the actual reality of life in the diversity of European languages and cultural traditions is beginning to take shape beyond expert discourse in Schleswig-Holstein. As basis for the festival and for the later contacts serves a brochure which presents extracts from and synopses of all ten novels as well as biographical and bibliographical information on the authors in German, English, and French. It provides the basis for the literary exchange among participating publishers and experts alike. In this way the Festival each year adds new meshes to the net of Europe’s coming literature. Whether this exchange would actually lead to future publication in translation, we did not know in the beginning, but as we have seen meanwhile 15 of the novels are translated into German. Let me give you some examples for this direction: Kristian Ditlef Jensen, Jonas T. Bengtsson and Henriette Möller from Denmark. Sigmund Lovasen from Norway, Gerbrand Bakker and Lucette Ter Borg from the Netherlands, Hedi Kaddour from France or the Tcheque Radka Denemarkova and the Hungarian Noemi Kiss. And there are some authors who came back to our house and presented the German translation together with the translator to the public.
In addition to this result – like in Halma – the Festival also helps to make travel the authors themselves. The Festival for exampel has a cooperation with the LCB in Berlin and some of our authors later came to Berlin for a scholarship. Even to Visby I think two or tree of the authors came since in 2006 Lena Pasternak participated as an expert in the Festival.
Appendix 3 Wolfgang Sandfuchs,
The ‘Literaturhaus Schleswig-Holstein’ Network and locality of literature in Schleswig-Holstein
With the foundation of the association ‘Literaturhaus Schleswig- Holstein’ in 1989, Schleswig-Holstein established a unique institution which connects the different institutions that promote literature. The association is financially supported by the ‘Bundesland’ Schleswig-Holstein and its capital Kiel. It understands itself as a network service for the literature in Schleswig-Holstein. As a network, it fulfils two functions: It works as a statewide responsible ‘Literaturbüro’ (office for literary work) and furthermore – since 1998 – as the ‘Literaturhaus in Kiel’, an institution that is located in the state capital and offers its own literary programme.
A good example for the work in the Bundesland is the project called ‘Literatursommer’. This most popular project exists for 13 years now and addresses itself to cooperating instutions that are situated all over Schleswig-Holstein. In this way, it was possible to organise between 40 and 50 literary events every summer always dedicated to the literature of one special country. These were since 2001 Finnland, Spain, England, Tchequia, Japn, Netherlands, Hungary and Russia. In a similar way that, the ‘Literaturhaus in Kiel’ all over the year supports events and reading travels in Schleswig-Holstein by advisory service, promotion and subsidies. Let me take the actual example of a Festival author. Jonas T Bengtsson will travel with the German edition of his first novel to Kiel, Flensburg and Husum.
For the writers and translators in Schleswig-Holstein, the association primarily provides information and guidance. The ‘Literaturhaus’ also gives the opportunity to present new manuscripts to an interested audience, organises workshops and is curating a database that collects information about current literature from Schleswig-Holstein.
As a local institution the ‘Literaturhaus’ in Kiel focusses on the presentation of recent German-language literature as well as on foreign language literature. Here, the literature from the baltic sea region is a point of special interest. Each year for two ties there is an autor from Finnland reading in Kiel. We have guests from Poland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Russia, but the condition always is that they are translated inti Geman.
Beside the continuous readings, the ‘Literaturhaus’ is involved in two representative lprojects in Kiel. In cooperation with the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel it arranges the
‘Liliencron-Dozentur’ which is a lectureship for lyric poetry and in cooperation with the Centre Culturel Français de Kiel it organises the ‘Europäisches Festival des Debütromans’. This festival aimes at the exchange between authors from ten different countries who present their debut novels.
Among these events that are mainly addressed to adults, the ‘Junges Literaturhaus’ offers a multifaceted programme for children and adolescents. It organises afternoons and nights where children can listen to read out books, it arranges discussions with authors, specific projects for school classes, writing workshops and also edits a book review written by children for children.
In the last years a network of organisers has been built around the ‘Literaturhaus Schleswig-Holstein’ which exchanges experiences and discusses in retrainings on questions concerning event management in the field of literature.
More detailed information about the Literaturhaus Schleswig- Holstein can be found on the homepage, in the newsletter or can be given during a short phone call.
Literaturhaus Schleswig-Holstein Schwanenweg 13, D-24105 Kiel Phone: 0049 – 431 – 57968 – 40 Fax: 0049 – 431 – 57968 – 42 Mail: email@example.com www.literaturhaus.schleswig-holstein.de