COLLABORATIONS WITH OTHER CITIES
100,000 Books for Guinea
The final project of UNESCO World Book Capital was ‘100,000 Books for Guinea’, implemented together with UNESCO, Sharjah, Wrocław partner cities Lille and Mons, and embassies of various countries—as a result of a fundraising initiative 100 000 certified textbooks in French were printed and shipped to Guinea to fight illiteracy in the country, where 59% of the population cannot read and write.
Books from Home
After the full-scale aggression of Russia on Ukraine in February 2022, Wrocław – with partners from around the world – initiated many projects to help both the refugees arriving to Poland, as well as the Ukrainian book industry, whose activities were brutally interrupted. Among them, residencies and events for Ukrainian writers were organized, the Stand with Ukrainian Writers Fund was established to help those who remained in Ukraine, and the Books from Home project was implemented in cooperation with other cities, including Sharjah &Tbilisi – former UNESCO World Book Capitals, as well as Warsaw. As part of the project, licences for Ukrainian children’s books were acquired from publishers & authors, and then the books were printed and distributed for free among Ukrainian children who found shelter in Poland – so they could find solace in the ritual of reading books they love and remember from home. So far, six titles with the total print run of 25 000 copies were given away to schools, libraries, institutions and NGOs, as well as directly to families.
The International Short Story Festival is a celebration of short prose focusing on presentation of narrative forms, the influence of literature on other arts, and exchange of creative experiences. Literary meetings are accompanied by exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, and competitions for writers and translators. The festival also takes part in discussions on cultural and social transformations, and it tries to reconstruct the relation between literature and traditional oral narration.
The Bruno Schulz. Festival is made up of unusual events, seemingly incoherent, and linked in unique ways, such as urban games, happenings, murals and concerts, and discussions on literature, culture and art. The patron of the festival, Bruno Schulz, forces us to reflect seriously on contemporary times in the context of the terrible history of the 20th century and the role of works and biographies of artists in understanding what happened and making diagnoses for the future.
The oldest and biggest festival promoting crime fiction in Poland, Wrocław's International Crime and Mystery Festival encompasses meetings with authors, lectures, concerts, urban games, conferences, lessons for young adults as well as workshops, during which aspiring authors work with Polish masters of the genre. The Great Calibre Award for the best Polish crime novel or thriller, financed by the city of Wrocław, is presented during the festival, as is the Great Calibre of Honour Award for lifetime achievement.
Organized since 2016, the Silesius International Poetry Festival is one of the biggest Polish poetry festivals and features the Silesius Wrocław Poetry Award. The festival encompasses a variety of events, focuses on diversity (of poetics & worldviews), presentation of voices from other countries (each year a different country is a guest of honor) and inclusiveness (taking poetry into the city space). The Festival also includes year-round educational activities aimed at popularizing poetry among the youngest readers, presentation of new voices and book premieres.
Since 2018, Wrocław has cooperated with CzechLit and Goethe Institut on the project of literary residencies for Czech, German and Polish Writers in Broumov, a small town located in Sudety mountains, on the border between the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. Each year, six Czech, three German and three Polish writers spend a month in a historical monastery, working together and re-establishing the small border town as a meeting place for three cultures.
Wrocław also organizes literary residencies for the winners of the Natalya Gorbanevskaya Award, a reader’s award accompanying Angelus Central European Literature Award for the best book written by authors from Central Europe whose works undertake themes the most relevant to the present day, encourage reflection and expand the knowledge of other cultures.
In 2021, the first edition of a joint residency project with Kraków UNESCO City of Literature was organized: writers from both cities competed for a one-month stay in the sister city of literature.
Together with the Wisława Szymborska Foundation, Wrocław organizes residency stays for poets from the Lower Silesia region. Each of the selected writers spends a month in Kraków, living and working in the apartment of Wisława Szymborska, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Last but not least, Wrocław has been a member of ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) since 2015, organizing residencies for persecuted writers.
Wrocław boasts a rich multicultural history. In the 12th c., a book containing the first ever sentence written down in the Polish language was created in the region. Since then, the city was ruled by the Czechs, Hungarians, Habsburgs, Prussians and Germans, before becoming Polish again after World War Two. It was the home of, among others, the famous German poet Martin Opitz, poet and mystic Johann Scheffler, better known as Angelus Silesius, Gerhart Hauptmann and Edith Stein. After 1945, many famous Polish writers have lived here, including Rafal Wojaczek, Urszula Koziol, Tadeusz Rozewicz and the Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk.
Wrocław is one of the biggest university centres in Poland (27 universities and colleges) and a thriving cultural centre with 64 cultural institutions and branches of the Municipal Library, over 60 bookshops & points of book sale. It is a city where existing cultural spaces are constantly revitalised and new ones established. It’s also the seat of over 60 art festivals, including 10 literary festivals, 3 major literary awards and several smaller ones. Also, the oldest book fair in Poland is organized here.
Wrocław was the European Capital of Culture and UNESCO World Book Capital 2016. Several dozen literary projects and hundreds of events were organized during that year, both in Poland and abroad,spanning from a conference on Stanisław Lem (in Lviv, Wrocław, and several cities in Spain), a regional cookbook written by residents of Wrocław coming from around Poland, and a literary magazine printed on magnetic stickers to be put on cars and bicycles.
Wrocław Publishing Programme, designed and implemented by the city, is a unique system supporting the publication of high quality non-commercial books and magazines (mainly related to Wrocław and Lower Silesia) in the form of co-editions between the city and publishers (the premise is based on regional film funds).
Wrocław is the home of the Ossolinski National Institute, the oldest Polish publishing house, founded in 1817 in Lviv, as well as the second biggest Polish library collection. In 2016, the Institute opened a new space called Pan Tadeusz Museum, an innovative multimedia space dedicated to the most important Polish epic poem (the manuscript of which is exhibited there) and the history of European literature.