For the first time since the start of the European Poet of Freedom award, the Jury has decided to award two poets.The Jury recommended that two equal Literary Awards of the City of Gdańsk be granted in a verdict approved by Mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz.We are delighted to inform that the 2022 European Poets of Freedom are Marianna Kiyanovska (Ukraine) with The Voices of Babyn Yar and Luljeta Lleshanaku (Albania) with Water and Carbon.The translators of the selected volumes, Adam Pomorski and Dorota Horodyska, will also be awarded.The official award ceremony will take place on 10 June during the European Poet of Freedom Festival (9-11 June).

The Jury of the European Poet of Freedom Literary Award convened in Gdańsk on 25 April 2022: Anna Czekanowicz, Krzysztof Czyżewski (chairman), Paweł Huelle, Zbigniew Mikołejko, Stanisław Rosiek, Anda Rottenberg, Beata Stasińska, Olga Tokarczuk and secretary Andrzej Jagodziński (who did not take part in the vote). In the 2020-22 edition, the Jury selected from among five shortlisted volumes.

From the outset of our deliberations, during the first selection of our choices, all Jury members unanimously stated that two of the shortlisted books, The Voices of Babyn Yar by Ukrainian poet Marianna Kiyanovska, translated by Adam Pomorski, and Water and Carbon by Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku, translated by Dorota Horodyska, put them in an unusual situation, effectively preventing them from choosing just one of the two for the Award, reads the justification of the Jury’s choice.

After several hours of deliberations focused on the two volumes, the Jurors again unanimously decided that they thought both Kiyanovska and Lleshanaku delivered two equivalent, complementary and equally brilliant poetic achievements. The Jury’s verdict was presented to the Mayor of Gdańsk Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, who agreed to award two equal prizes.

The Jury about Marianna Kiyanovska’s The Voices of Babyn Yar translated by Adam Pomorski

“This is a song of mourning, where Kiyanovska achieves the utmost brilliant, constructing simple stories filled with individual experiences and marked by the premonition of inevitable doom. (…) This is carnal poetry, the poetry of pain and blood that elude being assigned to a specific place in time. Suffice it to change the names of people or places for the poem to immediately become terrifyingly topical as an elegy lamenting the mass graves of Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol.”

The Jury about Luljeta Lleshanaku’s Water and Carbon translated by Dorota Horodyska

Water and Coal is a masterpiece, full and finite. Its precise structure and extraordinary economy of words only enhance the impression of perfection. Lleshanaku’s poems poignantly describe how one strives for freedom in the enslaved world where she was born and grew up. The poet is also a polymath, combining different experiences in her work, not just her own, making her poetry universally appealing. She sounds like a pure, impeccable crystal.”

The Jury emphasized the quality and importance of the translations of both volumes. Adam Pomorski, an acclaimed translator from Russian, German, English, Belarussian and Ukrainian, is also responsible for translating A Ferry across the La Manche by Uladzimir Arlou, the first winner of the European Poet of Freedom Award. Dorota Horydyska’s brilliant translations were also featured in one of the earlier editions of the EPF award. Her translation of Luljeta Lleshanaku’s poetry was featured in the finale of the second edition of the award. For her translation of Child of Nature, Horodyska received the prestigious award of the Literatura na Świecie magazine.

In the reasoning behind their verdict, the Jury underlined the high artistic value presented by all finalists: “Each of the poets shortlisted for the Award employs a strong, individual poetic language, presenting the world in a unique, intriguing and extremely interesting fashion. The work undertaken by their translators also deserves the utmost praise.” Five poetry books were shortlisted for this year’s edition of the Award finale:

Anja Zag Golob, Stage Directions to Breathing, translated from Slovenian into Polish by Marlena Gruda and Miłosz Biedrzycki;

Petr Hruška, We Wanted to Save Ourselves. Selected Poems, translated from Czech into Polish by Dorota Dobrew and Franciszek Nasturczyk;

Kateryna Kalytko, Nobody Knows Us Here and We Know Nobody, translated from Ukrainian into Polish by Aneta Kamińska;

Marianna Kiyanovska, The Voices of Babyn Yar, translated from Ukrainian into Polish by Adam Pomorski;

Luljeta Lleshanaku, Water and Carbon, translated from Albanian into Polish by Dorota Horodyska.

The volumes published in the European Poet of Freedom series are available from City Culture Institute’s online shop →

The call for entries for the 2022-24 edition of the Award is now open

The Award will be granted for the eighth time in spring 2024. Poets may only be entered into the competition by translators who will undertake to translate their work into Polish. For the 2022-24 edition, submissions will be accepted from poets writing in the following languages and their varieties: Bulgarian; Croatian with Kajkavian and Chakavian dialects; Finnish; French, Franco-Provençal and Provençal (Occitan), including Romance dialects; Latvian; Dutch, Flemish and the Frisian and Afrikaans languages; Portuguese; Romance (Romani) including Para-Romani and other dialects.

Applications with 5-8 translated poems should be sent by 30 September 2022 to the Award Office located at the City Culture Institute. Details and the call for entries for the 2022-24 edition of the Award are available in Polish HERE.

About the Award

The European Poet of Freedom Literary Award of the City of Gdańsk is granted biennially. Its aim is to promote poetic phenomena that address one of the most important contemporary themes, freedom, and demonstrate a high artistic value. In each edition, the Award is granted to the poet and their translator/s. The Award has a financial dimension: the authors of selected volumes receive PLN 100,000 and their translators PLN 20,000. The Award is accompanied by a publishing series with the translations of all shortlisted volumes.

This year’s Awards will be granted on 10 June during an official gala at Gdańsk’s Shakespeare Theatre. The ceremony, directed by Agata Puszcz, will be part of the European Poet of Freedom Festival programme. Visit Gdańsk between 9 and 11 11 June to experience living poetry, meet its authors and participate in poetry-inspired art events.

Previous winners of the Award:

Sinéad Morrissey, On Balance (2020), translated from English into Polish by Magda Heydel;

Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir, Freedom (2018), translated from Icelandic into Polish by Jacek Godek;

Ana Blandiana, My A4 Homeland (2016), translated into Polish from Romanian by Joanna Kornaś-Warwas;

Dorta Jagić, A Sofa on the Market Square (2014), translated from Croatian into Polish by Małgorzata Wierzbicka;

Durs Grünbein, A Misanthrope on Capri (2012), translated from German into Polish by Tomasz Kopacki;

Uladzimir Arlou, A Ferry across the La Manche (2010), translated from Belarussian into Polish by Adam Pomorski.