The Second Coming Project aims to continue the process begun with “The First Coming” tour of building bridges between two societies that have many things in common and yet are so different, societies that are currently in different socio-political and cultural circumstances and therefore have a great deal to learn from one another and to exchange.
The process began with a tour in 2009, first bringing Catalan literature to the Ukraine live in an exchange that we hoped would go in both directions. Last year’s tour was a great success, and moreover, the exchange process has also begun in the opposite direction. In May of this year, 3 Ukrainian poets and a festival organizer came to Catalonia to participate in the Barcelona Poetry Week. It would seem the cultural bridges are becoming a reality!
The current project is designed to continue with last year’s endeavor, enriching Ukrainian society by allowing Ukrainian readers to discover Catalonia and Catalan literature, in particular its poetry, as well as making Catalonia visible. As we remarked last year, Catalan literature has a very long, impressive history, from Ramon Llull to the present, and has recently become greatly successful throughout the world. Catalan writers are constantly participating in the most significant literary festivals in the world. Their works have been translated into a great many languages. At the 2007 Frankfurt Book Fair, for instance, Catalonia was the guest of honor. Works by 53 Catalan writers were translated into German on that occasion. And yet, this literature remains unknown to the Ukrainian public. But we (along with other cultural agents) are slowly chipping away at this state of affairs – where there is a will, there is always a way.
This year, in September, the Publishers’ Forum in Lviv and the Ternopil-based publishing house Krok (which means “Step”) have conceived of the Second Coming Project. The Project will bring three Catalan writers to two cities in Ukraine: Lviv and Ternopil. The main part of this literary event will consist of presenting each of the three writers at separate recitals at the 5th International Literary Festival / 17th Publishers’ Forum in Lviv (dates: 15-19 September 2010).
First and foremost, the aim of the project is to establish contacts and allow enriching exchanges, but it also wishes to bring to light certain historical and literary parallels between Catalonia and Ukraine. The Catalans are one of the largest ethnic minorities (there are some 8 million native speakers of Catalan) remaining unrecognized or ‘under-recognized’ internationally, as, for instance, in the European Union, where the language has not been granted official “working language” status. The Ukrainians, despite their present independence, are a generally invisible peoples as well on the international arena, due to their having lived long centuries in the shadows of the Russian Empire/Soviet Union and Poland. Ukraine lost its independence nearly at the same time as Catalonia. As of that time, the Ukrainian language was prohibited and/or belittled, the peoples subject to laws similar to those imposed on Catalonia through the Nueva Planta Decrees, their culture and identity suppressed. Ukraine is shared out between Poland and Russia, as Catalonia is between France and Spain, and the Ukrainians live with the constant fear of disappearing as an ethnicity, under heavy pressure from the Russian culture and Russian politics. In the early 19th Century, a cultural resurgence movement emerged in Ukraine that formed part of a more generalized movement in Europe known as the “Spring of the Nations”, as did the Catalan Renaixança. Later, in the early 20th Century, the Ukrainian culture, like the Catalan culture, experienced strong growth, particularly in the field of literature. Shortly thereafter, the Ukrainian language and culture were brutally suppressed by the Stalin Regime, and subject to defamation and marginalization campaigns to the point they ran the risk of being wholly annihilated. In Catalonia, the Franco Regime was doing much of the same.
The three authors who will represent Catalonia are: Anna Aguilar-Amat, Francesc Gelonch Bosch and Núria Martínez-Vernis. All three are significant figures on the Catalan literary scene, in particular the first writer, whereas the second poet has not yet published a volume of his works (though this is forthcoming). Anna Aguilar-Amat will also be representing Catalonia at the Grand Opening Night of the Lviv Literature Festival and Editor’s Forum. The Catalan-Ukrainian poet, translator and interpreter, Andriy Antonovskiy will also make an appearance, presenting the bilingual Catalan-Ukrainian poetry book published in conjunction with Dr. Yuri Zavadsky (foreword by Carles Hac Mor).
The poetry will be translated from the Catalan to the Ukrainian by Andriy Antonovskiy, Catalina Girona and Dr. Yuri Zavadsky.
The project will be carried out under the auspices of the Institut Ramon Llull, of the Government of Catalonia, which promotes Catalan culture abroad. The Institute itself has also participated in numerous literary festivals in Europe, bringing writers and artists to different countries and helping to make Catalonia known in different parts of the world.
The writers’ stay in Ukraine is to last from Sunday, 12th September to Wednesday, 22nd September 2009.
The Lviv Literary Festival is also planning on publishing an “almanac” for the festival, whereas Krok shall publish a brochure containing information on Catalonia and the three invited writers, as well as a brief, Catalan-Ukrainian bilingual anthology of texts.