The Slovenia Times

Vilenica winner points to Ukraine war


Sežana - The 37th Vilenica International Literary Festival drew to a close on Saturday evening with the awarding of the Vilenica Prize to Latvian poet Amanda Aizpuriete, who was not present at the ceremony. In her thank-you speech she raised the issue of the war in Ukraine, saying thousands of soldiers, civilians and children were dying.

Aizpuriete wrote she was happy, grateful and proud to have won the Vilenica Prize. However, she would be much happier if the times were different.

She pointed to the fact that "now missiles are destroying homes and hospitals, civilians and their children are dying - right here, in Europe", that " thousands of soldiers are dying, many of whom did not even want to participate in this war".

Born in the Latvian sea town of Jurmala in 1956, Aizpuriete has published nine collections of poems and her works have been translated into 14 languages. The first translator of her poems into Slovenian was acclaimed poet and playwright Veno Taufer.

The laureate belongs to the generation that started writing poetry in the mid-1970s and actively resisted the double morality of Latvian or Soviet society. She has raised many taboo subjects, exposing in particular the life of women in a predominantly patriarchal and socially difficult environment.

Her motifs are mostly based on what is concrete in life, on images of life on the shores of her hometown, on phenomena that are only apparently ordinary, because, in her words, there is nothing that can be called "everyday" or "normal", the jury, chaired by Aljoša Harlamov, wrote.

The Vilenica prize has been given out since 1986 by the Slovenian Writers' Association, the organiser of the Vilenica festival, in the Vilenica cave.

Northern Irish poet Gail McConnell won this year's Vilenica Crystal, an award the Vilenica International Literary Festival bestows on one of the authors featured in the festival's collection of poems or texts.

McConnell was honoured for several poems from The Sun Is Open, her much-acclaimed 2021 collection exploring the murder of her father by the IRA in 1984 when she was three.

Croatian author and translator Luiza Bouharaoua won the Central European Initiative (CEI) Prize for up-and-coming authors and Ludwig Hartinger, an acclaimed Austrian translator who has translated many Slovenian works into German, won the Lavrin Diploma for translating.

Meanwhile, Andrej Blatnik, 59, a member of the postmodernist generation of Slovenian fiction writers, has been chosen as the Slovenian author in the focus of the festival, which explored the issues of refugees and identity this year, including in the light of the war in Ukraine.


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