Meridian Czernowitz


From the Ukarainian paper The Day, here the opening paras of an article on the Czernowitz / Chernivtsi Poetry Festival in honor of Paul Celan:

Chernivtsi’s poetic meridian

By Maria TOMAK, The Day

“Chernivtsi, located midway between Kyiv and Bucharest, the Crimea and Odesa, has always been a secret capital of Europe, where sidewalks were swept with bouquets of roses, and there were more bookstores than bakeries,” reads the inscription near the entrance of the Chernivtsi Museum of Arts. It is located in Holovna Street, where Olha Kobylianska Street, the pedestrian route most appreciated by tourists, begins.

In early September the secret capital of Europe, also the legal administrative center of the Chernivtsi oblast, was full of poetry. It spread over the entire historical center of the city, the crowded cafes, the dark corridors of the abovementioned museum, the gilded molding of the local theaters, and poured via the university’s splendid halls right onto the cobbled roadway of streets and squares, which, according to translator and literary critic Mark Belorusets, are living memories of their imperial past.

The first International Festival of Poetry Meridian Czernowitz gathered litterateurs from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Ukraine, as well as translators and everyone willing to listen and hear. However, they did not just listen to poetry, but looked and tried to touch it. The organizers of the festival should be paid their due, as not only did they undertake the initiative (which under our circumstances usually entails unexpected upshots) and managed to organize it very well, without the usual mess, failures, and blanks, but also provided “interaction” between poetry, music, video art, theater, and photography.

The only thing the festival’s organization committee can be reproached with is that the promises of most ringing book launches did not come true. To make it more precise, premieres did take place, but we did not see the books. But that is no organizers’ fault. In particular, we found out that the book of correspondence between the renowned German-speaking Jewish poet, born in Chernivtsi, Paul Celan, and his peer and friend Gustav Chomedde will see the light no sooner than in October. The book will be published by the main publisher of Celan’s oeuvre Barbara Wiedemann. The German edition of correspondence between Celan and Chomedde (it’s too early to speak about the Ukrainian translation) will appear in print on October 1.

you can read the full article here.

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