When you try to explain to another person what that word means in your language, you step into a labyrinth whose passageways don’t necessarily lead anywhere. A dozen writers and poets from across Europe discuss their idea of 'home' during the Night of European Literature, as well as how to convert that idea into another language. And which language, then, is best suited to expressing themselves?
The European Literature Night is organized by EUNIC, the network for European national institutes of culture and national bodies engaged in cultural activities, and was made possible by the European Commission.
- Maud Vanhauwaert
- Steven J. Fowler
- Michalis Pieris
- Katerina Tucková
- András Gerevich
- Alvydas Slepikas
- Guillaume Rihs
- Mira Feticu
- Mary Costello
- Rasha Abbas
- Erik Lindner
In collaboration with the international literary magazine Terras, most of the authors wrote an essay, short piece of prose, or poem on this theme. The No. 12 “Catacombs” issue, containing the results, will be presented during the evening. Guido Snel, a writer, translator and lecturer in European Studies at the University of Amsterdam, will moderate the conversation with the writers, and Flemish artist Sarah Yu Zeebroek will create live illustrations.
Illustration: Sarah Yu Zeebroek - Squid
The cultural institutes participating in this event include: De Brakke Grond, British Council, Embassy of Cyprus, Czech Centre Rotterdam, Embassy of Hungary, Lithuanian Cultural Centre, Embassy of Switzerland, Romanian Cultural Institute Brussels, Embassy of Ireland, Dutch Culture and Goethe-Institut.
Who are the authors?
The European authors: Maud Vanhauwaert (Belgium), Steven Fowler (United Kingdom), Michalis Pieris (Cyprus), Katerina Tucková (Czech Republic), Andras Gerevich (Hungary), Alvydas Slepikas (Lithuania), Guillaume Rihs (Switzerland), Mira Feticu (Romania), Mary Costello (Ireland), Erik Lindner (Netherlands) and Rasha Abbas (Germany).
Maud Vanhauwaert (Belgium, 1984) is a writer and text performer. She obtained a Master’s degree in Language and Literature from the University of Antwerp and a Master’s degree in Drama from the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, where she now also teaches.
Her debut collection Ik ben mogelijk (I Am Possible) was published by Querido in 2011 and won the Vrouw Debuut Prijs award for a female poetry debut. This was followed in 2014 by Wij zijn evenwijdig (We Are Parallel), which was recognised with the Hughues C. Pernathprijs award and the audience award of the Herman De Coninckwedstrijd competition for best poem. This collection also received a nomination for the VSB Poëzieprijs poetry award 2016.
Vanhauwaert edits the Dutch-language literary magazine Dietsche Warande & Belfort (DW B). Her first full-length solo show Het is de moeite (It’s Worth It) premièred in January 2016. Her performances have been seen all over the world, from Poland to Slovenia and from Mexico to South Africa.
Photo: Jimmy Kets
Photo slideshow: Annie Boedt
Steven J. Fowler (United Kingdom, 1983) is a poet and artist. He works in the modernist and avant-garde traditions, across poetry, fiction, theatre, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance. He has published various collections of poetry and text, and been commissioned by Tate Modern, BBC Radio 3, The British Council, Tate Britain, Liverpool Biennial and Wellcome Collection. He has been translated into 21 languages and performed at venues across the world, from Mexico City to Erbil, Beijing to Tbilisi. He is the poetry editor of 3am magazine, Lecturer at Kingston University, teaches at Tate Modern and is the curator of the Enemies project. Fowler has been translated into Dutch by Tsead Bruinja and published in Sample Kanon.
Poet, philologist, playwright and stage director Michalis Pieris (Cyprus, 1952) has made a mark in literature and the arts in his native country. He has also received international recognition, particularly in Italy, France, Russia and Spain, as evidenced by the translations of his poetry and his participation in important festivals and his presence in European literary journals and anthologies. In addition to his creative and artistic work, Michalis Pieris is also a prominent researcher of Medieval, Renaissance and contemporary Greek and European literature.
Photo: Mario Vitti
Katerina Tucková (Czech Republic, 1980) grew up in Moravia before moving to Prague for her studies. She made her literary debut in 2006 with the novel Montespaniáda, but it was her second book, Vyhnání Gerty Schnirch (The Expulsion of Gerta Schnirch, 2009), which earned her many prizes. While also working as a freelance curator, she finds the time to work on her PhD in 20th century art at the Charles University in Prague and publish articles in the field.
Photo: Vojtech Vlk
András Gerevich (Hungary, 1976) published four books of poetry in his native Magyar (Hungarian), his work has been translated into about two dozen languages, he has books in translation in English, French, German, Bulgarian and Slovenian. He himself has translated many English-speaking poets into Hungarian, including Seamus Heaney, Charles Bernstein and Frank O’Hara. András was awarded several international scholarships and residencies, and has read at several festivals around the world. He has taught poetry writing workshops at Vassar College in New York and Eötvös University in Budapest. He was Poetry Editor for two literary journals: Kalligram in Budapest and Chroma in London, and an assistant producer for the radio program Poetry by Post for the BBC World Service. András has also scripted short artistic animation films, and his plays have been staged in Budapest and London. He has also published essays, stories, and reviews. He was the President of the Hungarian young writers’ association, the József Attila Kör.
Photo: Matyas Szollösi
Alvydas Slepikas (Lithuania, 1966) is a writer, poet, playwright and actor. He graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius, majored in acting and directing. He worked in the State Small Theatre of Vilnius and was the editor-in-chief of a cultural weekly magazine Literatura ir menas. Alvydas published two volumes of poetry, a collection of prose, and a novel Mano vardas – Maryte. His works were translated into more then ten languages, including English, Russian, German and Dutch. He is a member of the Lithuanian Writers Union. Alvydas Slepikas lives and works in Vilnius.
Photo: Vladas Braziunas
Guillaume Rihs (Switserland, 1984) was born in Geneva and teaches high-school history and English. His first novel, Aujourd’hui dans le désordre won the Prix des écrivains genevois (Genevan Writers’ Award) and was published by Kero Editions in 2016. The book has also been published in Dutch translation by Amsterdam’s Ambo/Anthos under the title Vandaag in de chaos’ Rihs’ new novel, Un exemple à suivre, will be published by Kero in 2017.
Photo: Pascale Lourmand
Mira Feticu (Romania, 1973) made her debut in her home country with a collection of poetry in 1993, and then concentrated on writing stories. In 2001, her collection of stories Femei cu veverite (Women with Squirrels) was published. One of the sketches in this book (translated into Dutch) was included in the Dutch anthology ‘Moderne Roemeense verhalen’ (‘Modern Romanian Stories’). Four years later, her novella Povestea Penelopei (The Story of Penelope) was published. In 2010, Feticu received a PhD in Literature with a thesis on the Romanian poet Gabriela Negreanu. She relocated to the Netherlands after marrying.
Her first Dutch-language novel, Lief kind van mij (My Dear Child), was published in 2012. This was followed a year later by De ziekte van Kortjakje (Lazybones’ Malady). Her third Dutch-language novel, Tascha. De roof uit de Kunsthal (Tascha. The Museum Robbery, 2015) was also translated into Romanian. Feticu has now also returned to writing poetry and her poems have appeared in various Dutch anthologies.
Photo: Liesbeth Kuipers
Rasha Abbas (Germany, 1984) was born in Syria and lives in Berlin. She published her first short story collection: Adam hates the Television in 2008, as part of ‘Damascus the capital of Arab culture’ publications, after she applied to the festivals writing contest for new voices. Since then she contributed in several publications and platforms, with short stories and journalistic columns, such as: PEN, Words Without Borders, The Common, Süddeutsche Zeitung.
In 2014 she contributed, both as a writer and as a translator, to Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline. In the same year she got the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Fellowship, supported by Solitude Schloss Akademie in Stuttgart. There she was working on her short story collection, entitled The Gist of It, which will be published in 2017. Abbas published the humorous short story collection The Invention of German Grammar in 2016. The German translation (Die Erfindung Der Deutschen Grammatik) done by Sandra Hetzel was published first, then the original Arabic version was published.
Photo: Heike Steinweg
Mary Costello (Ireland) grew up in Galway and now lives in Dublin. Her first book, a collection of stories entitled The China Factory, was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award in 2012. Her first novel, Academy Street, was published in 2014 to great acclaim. It won the ‘Irish Novel of the Year Award’ and the overall ‘Irish Book of the Year 2014’ and was shortlisted for the ‘International Dublin Literary Award’ and the ‘Costa Prize’. It was been translated into several languages and was published in The Netherlands in 2016.
Erik Lindner (The Netherlands, 1968) is a poet. He has published five volumes of poetry, the two most recent being Terrein (2010) and Acedia (2014), both with De Bezige Bij publishers. He is the founder and editor of Terras magazine for international literature, a literary adviser at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, and a critic. In 2013, De Bezige Bij also published his first novel, Naar Whitebridge. His poems have been translated and published in German, French and Italian. His poetry collection Nach Akedia was translated by Rosemarie Still (Matthes & Seitz Publishers, 2013) and recommended by the German Academy for Language and Poetry.
Photo: Gerald Zörner
Sarah Yu Zeebroek (Belgium, 1984), daughter of famous Belgian cartoonist and artist Kamagurka, lives and works in Ghent, where she also grew up. She is an artist, musician and illustrator for Belgian and Dutch newspapers/magazines De Morgen, Vrij Nederland, Humo, NRC Handelsblad and Knack Focus. She also provided the illustrations for the children’s books Hoeraar! and Manifeest.
Together with her brother Boris, she formed the band ‘Hong Kong Dong’ and under the name ‘The Shitz’ with brothers Stephen and David Dewaele (Soulwax, 2 Many DJs) she worked on the soundtrack for the Flemish film Belgica (directed by Felix Van Groeningen).
Photo: Gwen De Vylder