Bucharest hosting International Odessa Literature Festival Thursday to Sunday

The 9th edition of the International Odessa Literature Festival, which has become itinerant due to the war in Ukraine, will take place from Thursday to Sunday in Bucharest, with more than 20 events – poetry recitals, debates, film screenings and musical moments.

“Hosted at the Goethe-Institut Bucharest, this year’s edition of the International Odessa Literature Festival opens on Thursday at 17,00 with a message from the two founders of the project, cultural managers Ulrich Schreiber (Germany) and Hans Ruprecht (Switzerland), followed by a message from Laura Napolitano, director of the Italian Institute of Culture in Bucharest and president of EUNIC Romania, the institution under the umbrella of which the project takes place,” the organisers said, according to a press release sent to AGERPRES on Wednesday.

Ukrainian Ambassador in Bucharest Igor Prokopchuk joined the organisers and will greet the audience at the opening event.

In anticipation of their arrival in Bucharest, some of the writers invited to this year’s edition of the festival sent their thoughts to the Romanian literature lovers.

“I believe that every international writers’ meeting is a good opportunity to exchange ideas about literature and politics. I hope we can actively listen to each other. If we believe that literature is a universal tool of understanding, we can use it for discussion, not for fighting,” said Ukrainian writer Vasyl Mahno – poet, essayist and translator, who investigates in his books the concepts of homeland and memory, reflecting the polyphonic past of his place of origin.

According to Mahno, “if war comes upon them in their homeland, writers must become its defenders when their country is brutally attacked.” “This is why many Ukrainian writers write literature and essays about war and participate in international festivals. Many of them serve in the army and fight on the fronts. In this period, literature becomes a mouthpiece of these times, because it has to be heard,” he added.

“Literature in times of war is both an escape from the terrible reality and a weapon, because it is impossible not to write about war,” said ahead of his visit to Bucharest writer Yuriy Vynnychuk, a living legend of Ukrainian literature, tireless critic of the political system, regarded as the most versatile of contemporary Ukrainian writers.

According to the organisers, Swiss writer Ariane von Graffenried, spoken word author, member of the “Fitzgerald & Rimini” duo and curator of the Basel International Poetry Festival, speaks about the power of literature to give voice to literature in her message sent in advance to Romanian readers: “Metaphors do not help against people with guns. And beautiful verses cannot heal wounds. Literature, however, can create a community here and now, it can offer comfort, it can express anger and it can be a witness to both the beautiful and the hateful. Literature can give the dead a voice and make them sing.”

For Italian writer Ilaria Gaspari, known for her passion for podcasts dedicated to the works of famous writers, this year’s travelling edition of the Odessa International Festival is an opportunity to remember the horrors of the two world wars.

“Literature is not a weapon, because literature does not destroy; and it is indeed unarmed and vulnerable to war, but with the collective force of a mouthpiece that spreads words and thoughts. It is not a form of escape, but an open refuge, that is, open to protect against horror,” said the esteemed Italian writer.