Off-venue event at RILF

The Reykjavik International Literary Festival takes place 19th-23rd April this year. We will have an off-venue event in Iðnó on Friday 21st at 5 pm where poets from Slovakia will share their works alongside foreign-born writers who have made a mark on Iceland’s literary scene in recent years. The event is titled “Not being heard is no reason for silence,” a quote from Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables.”

During the discussion, moderated by Victoria Bakshina, we’ll delve into the status of literature in Slovakia and Central Europe and compare it to that of Iceland. We’ll also explore the role of authors during difficult times and the significance of literature for minority groups. The event will also feature a discussion about the experiences of being a foreign-born writer in Iceland.

Organized by the Gunnar Gunnarsson Institute and the Writers’ Union of Iceland, this off-venue event is part of the Reykjavík International Literary Festival and the Epic Residencies project, which promotes cultural collaboration between Iceland, Slovakia, and Norway.

Join us for an event that celebrates the importance of literature as a tool for expression. It will be an hour of reading and discussion, primarily in English.

The writers are:

Dominika Moravčíková is a fiction writer and poet based in Košice, Slovakia. One of the most exciting young voices in contemporary Slovak literature, she debuted in 2020 with the poetry collection Deti Hamelnu (The Children of Hameln). The book received widespread critical acclaim across Slovakia and the Czech Republic and was nominated for Slovakia’s national prize for best poetry book, Zlatá vlna, in 2021. In 2022 she published her second book, a collection of short stories titled Dom pre Jeleňa (A House for the Deer, KK Bagala publishing house). The book is currently shortlisted for this year’s Anasoft Litera Prize, Slovakia’s most important literary award. The stories, marked by Moravčíková’s imaginative use of language and world-building through the development of fictional rural mythologies, has also received much attention since its publication. In 2019 she became the first writer to win both the country’s short story prize Poviedka and the poetry prize Básne SK-CZ in the same year. She regularly publishes essays with the leading Slovak left-wing cultural and political monthly Kapitál. In her academic work as a postgraduate researcher she conducts ethnographic research on the music education of Roma children in Slovakia. Her research also translates into her creative work, where she explores themes of exclusion, fate, knowledge, and memory. She is involved in the cultural management of two contemporary art galleries in Košice and collaborates with the Košice Literary Residencies programme.

Jakub Juhás is a fiction writer and sound curator at LOM, a cultural space in Bratislava that focuses on contemporary forms of sound art and acoustic ecology. In 2016 he debuted with the book Novoročný výstup na Jaseninu (The New Year's Ascent to Jasenina), which was shortlisted for the country’s most prestigious fiction prize, the Anasoft Litera Prize and won the Ján Johanides Prize for Young Authors. His second book, PS, was published in 2022 by the Prague-based publishing studio Rubato and is currently shortlisted for this year’s Anasoft Litera Prize. The formally inventive book centers around a fictional account of the final days of the legendary 19th century Hungarian poet Petöfi Sándor, who famously disappeared in 1849. In the book we find him holed up in the small town of Lučenec (in today’s Hungarian-speaking south of Slovakia), tortured by the screeching sounds of the bronze cockerel atop the local church. The book, whose structure melds passages of fictional narrative with essayistic reflections and sensorily dense descriptions of Central European geography, landscapes and Hungarian-Slovak personal relations and interactions, draws heavily on Juhás’s obsession with sounds and their communication in literary forms. Juhás regularly publishes texts on sound art and experimental music in various international cultural and music magazines. He runs the experimental music label mappa editions. The label’s activities also include curating concerts, installations, residencies and workshops.

Juliana Sokolová is a poet and essayist. Her first book of poems My house will have a roof, published bilingually in English and Slovak by the Prague-based publishing house Fra in 2013, explores the relationship between grief and language. Her second book of poems, Domáce práce (On Housework), will be published in autumn/winter 2023 in Slovak by Literárna bašta. The book explores what it is we touch while we do housework: a darkness that is prehistoric and waits. Characterised as “a poet’s poet” by the Slovak Literary Review, she writes condensed, frequently minimalist poems with an acute attention to language. She frequently reflects on language from her position of writer not writing in her mother’s tongue, Hungarian. Her poems have featured on the radio in Sweden and Norway. She publishes essays in journals, artist monographs and exhibition catalogues internationally. Juliana Sokolová is a postgraduate researcher in architectural theory at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. She cooperates with the art-house cinema Kino Úsmev in Košice, where she curates their literary programme, and is a co-founder of the Košice Literary Residencies programme.

Jakub Stachowiak was born in Poland in 1991 and has lived in Iceland since 2016. He is a librarian. He holds a BA in Icelandic as a second language and is now studying creative writing at the University of Iceland. He is a published poet, writing in Icelandic. For his first book of poems Næturborgir (Nocturnal Cities) published in 2021, he received a Grassroot Grant from the Icelandic Literature Center. In 2022 he also published two other books of poetry, úti bíður skáldleg veröld (outside awaits a poetic world) and flæði 3(flow 3). He has also published poems in the poetry collection Pólífónía af erlendum uppruna, which contains poems by foreign poets in Reykjavík and in various magazines, including Skandali and Tímarit Máls og Menningar. He has recently performed in a theater play Góða ferð inn í gömul sár(Safe travel into old wounds) that revolves around the HIV pandemic in Iceland in the 80s and 90s and written personal articles for a radio programme Lestin. His 4th book, Stjörnufallseyjur (Islands of a falling star) will be published in autumn by the publishing house Dimma.

Mao Alheimsdóttir is Polish in origin, living in Iceland since 2006. She graduated with MA in creative writing from the University of Iceland 2020 and writes in Icelandic. She received a Grassroot Grant from the Icelandic Literature Center in 2021 for her first novel Veðurfregnir og jarðarfarir (Weather forecasts and funerals). Her writing has previously been published in Tímarit Máls og Menningar and Ljóðabréfið. She is a working artist and has been involved in various stage works. In 2021 in collaboration with Icelandic National Radio she created a miniserie of radio programme Að fjallabaki (Behind the mountains).

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