The Rozstaje Manifesto, written down in a barn



obraz Milany Chyżawskiej


"Central Europe lets us communicate with our neighbours in our native language," wrote Taras Prochasko. The Ukrainian writer seems to have been overly optimistic, because he did not notice that the Great Grammarian, in fear of the Babylonian building incident repeating, created Baltic and Finno-Ugric languages besides Germanic, Slavic and Romanesque, and decided to place their native speakers in the middle of our continent. Since then, it has been difficult to do without translators. Just like living in the countryside without a car.

W odróżnieniu od Milana Kundery nie wiemy, kto i dokąd porwał europejski Zachód, ani jak daleko sięga przydługie ramię Wschodu. A już z całą pewnością nie wskażemy dokładnych współrzędnych domniemanego Środka Europy. Jednak wbrew Przemysławowi Czaplińskiemu wierzymy, że poruszona środkowoeuropejska mapa jeszcze się nie zwija. Lubimy i afirmujemy wyobrażony, trudno uchwytny Środek. Znamy też środki stylistyczne i w słusznej sprawie nie zawahamy się ich użyć.

Who are we? We are translators of belles-lettres from so-called Central and Eastern Europe. In June 2019, regular translation meetings were inaugurated. Our first seminar took place in the village of Gorajec, located on the Ukrainian-Polish borderland. In 1945, the centuries-old and multi-ethnic history of this place was brutally interrupted, and the stones in the local forests are still emphatically silent about those events. A new page in the history of Gorajec and the whole region is opening up right before our eyes, and we would like to play a part in writing it down.

Literary translations are among the most perfect forms of cultural dialogue, and also a good way to achieve understanding and agreement among people from different literary traditions. The first seminar organised was attended by twenty-one translators from the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Hungary. Eleven languages - Belarusian, Croatian, Czech, Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Hungarian – were confronted during the workshop sessions. Together we wondered what brings contemporary literature from our countries closer together, and what divides it. For a week we worked on selecting and translating works of poetry and prose, which were linked by the general theme of the workshop - "Crossroads".

Crossroads are a universal and ambiguous literary image. Crossroads are a turning point, a climax and a sort of paradox - belonging to everyone and nobody. We tried to interpret it optimistically: as a place where roads (fates, identities, stories, memories, ideals) meet and interweave. Choices made at the crossroads, though not always right, do not have to be irreversible.

We jokingly called the seminar a Creative Work Camp. The tangible result of our efforts is a website, which we warmly invite you to visit. The site features selected works in various languages, lets you trace their repeated leitmotifs and compare the sound of each work - in both the original and translated version

"He who awakens the crossroads, will not sleep again.” - wrote Jan Brzechwa. We believe that the entangled links between our countries and literature are a still to be discovered and unexploited potential. If you are interested in literature, especially literary translation, if you like Central and Eastern Europe and have ever seriously considered its definition and geographical location - let us know and come and join us! See you at the crossroads, let's awaken them together!

Written in the village of Gorajec, on this 30th day of the month of June, in the Year of Our Lord MMXIX

Minutes by Marcin Gaczkowski

Przejdź na stronę główną


© Copyright Marcin Gaczkowski

Fot. 1 Marcin Piotrowski

Fot. 2 Gosia Kawka