Reykjavik-born Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir is the European Poet of Freedom 2018, with her volume Frelsi (Freedom) translated into Polish by Jacek Godek. The poet receives a statuette and PLN 100,000 and the translator of the winning volume – a statuette and PLN 20,000.

Frelsi won the jury’s hearts by taking up one of the most important challenges facing contemporary Europe: how to manage the freedom we’ve gained for ourselves.

“According to the poet, this lies at the core of a number of contemporary global issues, such as the migration crisis, environmental issues, social problems as well as the crisis of multiculturalism. From her Icelandic perspective, the author casts a penetrating, critical look at the European Judeo-Christian-Islamic heritage, which currently forms a deep divide, able to multiply ‘crying hatred desires… everything apart from good.’ Poetry from Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir’s prize-winning volume is a deeply powerful voice warning us against the dangers of a new enslavement,” reads the jury’s verdict.

This year’s European Poet of Freedom Literary Award of the City of Gdańsk has been awarded by a jury composed of Krzysztof Czyżewski (head), Paweł Huelle, Andrzej Jagodziński (secretary), Zbigniew Mikołejko, Stanisław Rosiek, Anda Rottenberg, Beata Stasińska and Olga Tokarczuk.

“Freedom is a political, feminist, realist, and left-wing treatise with a bit of religion to boot. More than anything else, it is universal. After all, where isn’t freedom abused? Where aren’t people sorted like garbage? Which part of the northern world has remained unaffected by liberal consumerism? We are all subject to the global rights of materialism, we all prefer to have than to be,” says Jacek Godek, translator from the Icelandic.

Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir (b. 1958) was born in Reykjavik, where she works part-time as a nurse. She has published three poetry volumes: Bláþráður (1990), Klakabörnin (1993), a novel Lygasaga in 2003, and Frelsi (Freedom) in 2015. She spent seven years (2008-2015) writing the latter: a short poetic treatise divided into a prologue and three parts. Subsequent poems result from the previous ones, leading towards the final.

Jacek Godek (b. 1958) is a translator of Icelandic literature, actor and journalist. He has translated numerous books, ranging from medieval to contemporary Icelandic literature. Some of the titles under his belt include 101 Reykjavik, Devil’s Island, Women, The Sorrow of Angels, and The Flatey Enigma. He debuted as a translator at 16, when he translated several poems by the Icelandic Romantic poet Jónas Hallgrímsson for the Polish Radio.

On 1 February 2018, organisers of the Festival sadly learned about the passing of one of the nominated poets – Menno Wigman. Consequently, in line with the rules and regulations of the Award, the Mijn naam is Legioen (My Name Is Legion) volume was not subject to the jury’s debate. Press release (in Polish):