Paul Celan 100
European tour in honor of the great poet
The "Paul Celan 100. Meridian of a German Master: Chernivtsi-Paris-Eternity" is a literary project of international cooperation, which is being implemented by Meridian Czernowitz and Paul Celan Literaturzentrum in cooperation with German union Freie Ukraine Braunschweig e.V. and supported by Culture Bridges. During several months in 2018 readings and discussions devoted to the life and work of the prominent poet were held in the cities of Ukraine, France, Germany and Austria.


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Paul Celan was a post-war Austrian-Jewish author and translator who wrote in German. He is considered to be the father of a "new German language" that arose after the Holocaust and is the most prominent Austrian poet of the 20th century. His life and work are taught in European universities, discussed in European media, and he has had his work studied by the likes of Yurii Andrukhovych, Serhiy Zhadan, Max Czollek, Mikhail Kruger, Petro Rikhlo and Franz Josef Chernin.

Iryna Manzhos
Celan Centre literary programme curator
Born in Chernivtsi (currently in western Ukraine), Celan was educated in the city and began writing there. He held both Romanian and Austrian citizenship, yet, his life and work – though cut short by his suicide by drowning in the River Seine – is worthy of wider discussion and thus we constructed this project in an attempt to follow the route the poet followed, originating in Ukraine and ending in France.
The "Paul Celan 100. Meridian of a German Master: Chernivtsi-Paris-Eternity " project reflects the first of three parts of a large-scale celebration of the poet's centenary, to be held in Chernivtsi in 2020. The event has attracted the participation of European and international researchers, writers, journalists, university lecturers, opinion shapers, translators, fans and admirers of Celan's work. Offering literary lectures, discussions, readings and presentations, the project is focused on introducing Ukrainians to the poet and his work, featuring contemporary Ukrainian writers who have translated Celan, and who have been actively promoting Ukrainian literature around Europe in homage to the celebrated poet that has long served as inspiration and wellspring of their own work.
The project was inaugurated with a presentation on Celan in Kyiv at the Book Arsenal and continued with additional presentations and discussions in Ukraine, Germany, Austria and France. The official project opening was held outdoors at the Paul Celan Literaturzentrum in Chernivtsi. There were 26 related events over the three days of the celebration held during the IX International Meridian Czernowitz Poetry Festival. Poets from Ukraine, Israel, Austria, Germany, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Great Britain and Switzerland took part in the festival that expanded this year with events held at new locations, including the Czernowitz culture, arts, and tourist information Centre, the Vernissage Cultural Centre, the Steinbarg Gallery & Café and the Chernivtsi Regional Art Museum.

An exhibition of engravings entitled "The Deconstruction of Giselle" based on the verse of Paul Celan was held at the Celan Centre in Chernivtsi during the festival. A joint project of the artist Nora Matotsa and German poet Gerhard Falkner, the engravings are a clear homage to the artistic stylings of Paul Celan's wife, Gisèle Lestrange.
Germany became the first country of focus, dividing the work into two stages: events that brought Serhiy Zhadan to Hannover and Berlin, and those involving Igor Pomerantsev, Andriy Lyubka, Evhenia Lopata, Mikhail Krueger, Max Czollec, Jan Volker Röhnert and Alexandru Bulucz in Frankfurt, Braunschweig , Munich and Berlin. The second country of focus was Austria and during the project's third section two events were held in Vienna - a creative meeting with contemporary Ukrainian writers Serhiy Zhadan, Andrij Liubka and Igor Pomerantsev and a discussion during the Vienna International Book Fair. On 16 November Zhadan, Lopata, and Igor and Svyatoslav Pomerantsev spoke in Paris, led a discussion on Celan's life and work, and presented their new books and a film by Igor Pomerantsev and Lydia Starodubtseva titled Amputation about Ukrainian military amputees.

Hanover saw Serhiy Zhadan perform for the first time to an audience of around 120, mostly German-speakers. The intention of ogranizers was to attract a local audience, and during the event Serhij spoke about Celan, about his translations of the poet's later work, about Celan's connection to Ukraine and contemporary cultural cooperation between the two countries and about the current cultural and political situation in Ukraine. The audience were treated to a reading of the Celan poem Todesfuge (Death Fugue) and Zhadan presented his most recent novel, Internat, and Antenna, a collection of poems. At the Braunschweig event, the actress Marita Luchs was invited to read the German texts. During the tour's second phase, they invited Germans who had done professional research on Celan to participate in the discussions and readings; it was important to project's object that Ukrainian and German speakers interact.

Iryna Manzhos
Celan Centre literary programme curator
Visitors of the Vienna International Book Fair were also quite interested in the work of Paul Celan. Most were unaware of the writer's Ukrainian roots. They asked about whether Celan had been translated into Ukrainian, what were the best cities to visit in Ukraine, and what contemporary Ukrainian writers could be found in German translation. Several fair-goers also showed their photographs of Chernivtsi and vowed to return in order to see Chernivtsi – the hometown of Paul Celan.
Involved with this project was Freie Ukraine Braunschweig e.V. – a German-Ukrainian organisation located in Braunschweig and Hannover that runs projects to promote Ukrainian literature in Germany. It schedules book presentations, readings, discussions and publisher meetings, and also works to generate humanitarian assistance in the form of medical equipment supply to the hospital system of Zaporizhia, Ukraine.

Partnership was established in 2016, when Celan Centre was organising Serhiy Zhadan's tour that year. The association pitched in with the organisation of events in the German cities, and since then they have been working together with Celan Centre on other cultural activities abroad. In 2018 the director of Freie Ukraine Braunschweig e.V. Marina Halovska attended the Meridian Czernowitz Festival, where the first large public discussion of "Paul Celan 100. Meridian of a German Master: Chernivtsi-Paris-Eternity" took place. The professional connections of the association led to the organization of another event in Hanover, expanding the reach of the project by adding yet another city with engaged audience.

Iryna Manzhos
Celan Centre literary programme curator
In Germany, we also enlisted the help of the Ukrainian Embassy, the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts (a union of prominent artists headquartered in Munich), the Haus für Poesie and the Frankfurt Book Fair - the world's largest book with a centuries-long history. In Paris, we were assisted by the Embassy of Ukraine, and in Vienna we took part in the Vienna International Book Fair and the Ukrainian Culture Festival / U stream Fest with a range of events – exhibitions, concerts, readings, plays. It was here, in Vienna, that we entered into a full-time partnership.

Iryna Manzhos
Celan Centre literary programme curator
The German cultural sector is constantly, substantively changing. Despite our years of experience with cultural events here, every time we go there we learn about some new market trends and then try to adapt them to our future projects. We're trying to implement German experience in gender studies into our projects, looking to attract and include equal numbers of men and women as both participants and visitors to our events. This collaboration also showed us how important it is to work with the PR and media from the countries you're traveling to with your project.

In the publishing business, one of the main trends of 2018 continues to be the battle between electronic and paper books. Paper is not ready to surrender anytime soon. We will continue to publish and travel with our authors in both Ukraine and Europe to encourage the market toward paper books. As part of this we've begun to mix art – illustrations from contemporary artists – into our releases. It's important to understand that while the literary reading is really just getting started in Ukraine as an event, in Europe the demand for readings is gradually fading.
The project stimulated the development of real cooperation between Ukraine and some of our country's most important strategic partners, including in the field of the creative industries - the EU countries of France, Germany and Austria. The result has added real depth to the cultural dialogue occurring between our institutions, fostered mutual understanding, expanded horizons, and opened consciousness toward other cultures, nationalities and religions. And as a practical result, it resulted in European presentations of their cultural sectors in Ukraine, and the cultural product of Ukraine brought to Europe by some of our leading writers and thinkers. Direct communication with writers has worked to improve public awareness, imparting first-hand information about Ukraine during discussions and presentations. In addition, there has been seen an increase in stories published in foreign media about the events and a significant improvement in cultural sphere cooperation between Ukraine and Europe.

Iryna Manzhos
Celan Centre literary programme curator
This year we're continuing to work with Freie Ukraine Braunschweig e.V. on the second part of our project. The "Paul Celan 100. Meridian of a German Master: Chernivtsi-Paris-Eternity" project will continue through 2019-2020 and the plan is to bring in a host of authors to address and discuss this magnificent writer and his impact on us.
Photo credits: Vasyl Salyga, Paul Celan Literaturzentrum
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