News: International Island of Europe Festival: How the Literature Has Changed Vinnytsia and Vinnytsia Changes Literature
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International Island of Europe Festival: How the Literature Has Changed Vinnytsia and Vinnytsia Changes Literature

1.jpgHaving been granted the international status in 2019 and funded by Vinnytsia City Council, the NGO "Cultural Campus" with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, Island of Europe Festival was held in Vinnytsia for the second time (June 14-16). About 1.500 of Vinnytsia citizens and guests had a chance to visit more than 35 events during three and a half days in 10 locations.Outdoor poetry readings in atmospheric places, discussions, meetings with authors, presentations, musical and evening performances with famous European and Ukrainian intellectuals have created the rhythm of literary visa waiver at weekends in Vinnytsia.

The festival started in the very heart of the city - on Independence Square (Maidan) – with the exhibition opening about the classics of Yiddish literature, Vinnytsia citizen Isaac Joel Linetsky and Knafaim band concert of Jewish songs. Maidan turned to be the festival intellectual center where the book "Where the Grass Is Greener" by Natalka Doliak was presented and author meetings with foreign guests of the festival (Dragica Rajcic (Switzerland), Yuliia Tsimafeyeva (Belarus), Miruna Vlada (Romania), Lutshie Fowlerova (the Czech Republic), Matsei Plaza and Alexandra Zielinskaya (Poland), János Áfra (Hungary)) were organized.

Discussions on Jewish culture and Crimean Tatar literature, fundamental women's human rights and gender equality, European values and other global challenges were in the focus of visitors' attention and research.

A new space where intellectuality, elitism and literature reigned during the festival was Borukh Lvovich's estate (the former Office of Chief Otaman Symon Petliura during Ukraine's short-lived sovereignty in 1918–1921). One of the authentic rooms united participants in the discussion on national unity and identity. The last festival day drew everyone concerned in the estate yard for a crowded author evening with a presentation of the books by Oksana Zabuzhko, "And I'm Rolling into the Tank Again" ("І знов я влізаю в танк") and "After the Third Call, Entrance to the Hall is Banned" ("Після третього дзвінка вхід до зали забороняється.").

This year's favorable weather conditions allowed one more important and emotional event for organizers, participants and visitors – the Crimean Tatar musical and poetry readings "Green Island" on the Island of Kempa with the participation of the poets Seyar Kokche, Aaliyah Kenzhi Ali, who live in the Crimea, and the singers of "Spring Cáceres" from the Czech Republic. The voice of the Crimean peninsula played performatively on the former Vinnytsia peninsula: the organizers of this festival demonstrated the continental unity and support of the Crimean Tatar people and its many centuries of struggle for cultural and political rights in a form of action art.

A bookstore terrace "Knyharnia "Ye" was the other literary and intellectual location. A lecture by Iryna Starovoyt, a presentation of the book "Woman in Berlin" with Roksoliana Svyato and Oksana Lutsyshyna, a meeting with UNESCO's City of Literature Award winner Petro Yatsenko were organized here.

Down the line, visitors of Island of Europe Festival in 2019 received a unique opportunity to communicate and hear authors whose literary works in Ukraine have not been published in separate books yet, redefine the value of freedom and the united nation, visit the island of Kemp, see premieres of all-Ukrainian projects and could experience the intercultural spirit of Vinnytsia.

Festival organizers: NGO "Cultural Campus" and Department of Culture of Vinnytsia City Council.

Organizational partners: Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, Ukrainian Center for International PEN Club, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Vinnytsia, Embassy of Hungary in Ukraine, Czech Center in Kyiv, Romanian Cultural Institute in Bucharest, Representation of Heinrich Boll Foundation in Ukraine, Crimean House, Concert Center and festival programs, Vinnytsia Literary and Memorial Museum of Mikhailo Kotsiubynskyi, Vinnytsia History Center, Vinnytsia City Central Library System, Knyharnia "Ye", "Publishing House of Old Lion", and Hub "MistoZmistiv".


Island of Europe Festival was founded by Ukrainian writers Kateryna Kalytko and Anna Vovchenko in 2015. The project is intended to articulate the achievements of Europe's "small" and "chamber" literatures (Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean and other regions, as well as the creativity of migrants and national minorities) and their relationship with the Ukrainian historical and cultural context and intercultural Vinnytsia heritage.