International Literature Festival – polip, Prishtina, 13 – 15 May 2016

6th edition


How can we speak about the contemporary moment?

 Although there is hardly a person on the European continent who can recall a period when there were no crises in Europe, and the citizens of the former Yugoslavia remembering also the horrors of their recent civil war, the refugee crisis over the last six months and the crisis of the European Union – with Grexit, Brexit, fear of a civil war in Poland (Lech Wałęsa has hinted at it recently), as well as questions over Dublin and Schengen agreements – create a painful impression that we are at the moment dealing with a very serious crisis.


Those full of hatred for Western Europe and its values, namely democracy and universal human rights, have started to emerge in abundance; those posing as defenders of Western values, who claim those values need protection from the rise of Islam, have emerged too and are pushing for the expulsion of all foreigners from the Fortress Europe or demanding an army on its borders. The countries of the former Eastern Bloc, which embraced the West after the fall of the Berlin Wall, are now turning their backs on the West and closing their borders because of the arrival of refugees, abandoning all Western democratic values and freedoms along the way. The rise of religion and the power of religious institutions, together with the rise of terrorism that uses religion as justification, are threatening secular society, which is the foundation of all modern states in Europe. Simultaneously, along with intellectuals and artists, many different groups in civic society are being mobilised. Without the work of numerous volunteers, the refugee crisis would have already escalated into an unimaginable catastrophe.

The region of the former Yugoslavia, with its so-called “Balkans refugees’ route“, is in a way a territory of intensive crises, which destabilise the whole of Europe these days. This region is interesting because we can observe here some of the phenomena of contemporary Europe in their most condensed form: the experience of exile and (re)integration of refugees; post-socialist transition; nationalism and populism as levers used by the political elites.

At the same time, the region of the former Yugoslavia is a geo-political sphere where at least two important imperialisms met (the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman Empires). Hence, when we talk about conflicts in the Middle East or crises in the Arab world, we often talk about the consequences of different colonial histories and imperialism, so it would be very interesting to compare existing narratives on these topics. However, whereas critical thinking takes place in the West when the imperialist and colonial past of various Western European states is discussed – even though it doesn’t influence their current policies and policy making – we could raise the question if intellectuals and public figures in Turkey and Russia, for example, are aware and critically orientated towards the imperial past of their own countries. It’s clear that certain patterns are been repeated, as we speak, both in the West and in the East.

On the other hand, in the former Yugoslavia, during its existence and its demise, everyone assumed the position of “victim“, but no one was the “guilty one”. To what extent is it happening again in the crisis zones where the refugees are coming from? And, generally, which esthetical, ethical and political values do refugees bring into the polyphony of European voices? And are we capable of understanding them?

There are no easy answers to complex issues. Therefore maybe art, in all its forms, is the most equipped to respond to the contemporary moment using the power of its expression. Given that every simplification undoubtedly leads to shallowness, which is – on the one hand – exceptionally useful for ideological manipulations, the question is whether literary responses to the crises are possible, and if the literary treatment of serious topics, spared of oversimplification but dealt with the necessary literary means, is possible? And, if it is possible, how likely is it that the literary voice, differentiated and distinct, could be heard and understood today?


POLIP 2015

22 – 24 May 2015

Opening: Friday, 22nd May, at 8pm


Literature post-Charlie Hebdo

The start of 2015 was marked by a terrorist act in Paris. The terrorist attack on the editorial offices of the Parisien satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo marked a new era of instability and threats to our freedoms, above all to critical thinking, satire and humour. On that occasion 12 people were killed. A great wave of support for the satirical magazine followed, but also an outcry, primarily from clerical circles, as well as from the political right. The new edition of Charlie Hebdo had until-now unheard of circulation of 3 million copies and it was translated into dozens of European languages. Due to all this, has Europe come to realisation of the importance of critique of liberal democracy? Has literature come to self-awareness of the indispensability of the never ending fight for freedom? Has terrorism recoiled? After the terrorist act in Paris, debates on the limits of freedom spread through Europe. At one such gathering in the middle of February, held in the Kruttonden café in Copenhagen, two hundred bullets were fired. The main target was the organiser of the gathering, the Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks. This situation is not new and it brings us back to the beginning of European civilisation, to the ancient poetics. Already Plato expressed in his Republic the hostility towards literarture that is able to undermine our world view, the organisation of the state and representations of the Gods. Many centuries later, Umberto Ecco based his cult novel In the Name of the Rose on the fictional destiny of the lost second part of Aristotle’s Poetics, which surprisingly dealt with questions of comedy. The literature that circulates today between Kosovo and Serbia is still underground, like all real literature around the world is underground. What does it mean to write despite intolerance and the walls of misunderstanding that are still going up in Europe? There is no other world apart from the one in whose making we participate ourselves. Literature is its constituent part and freedom is the heart of existence. After the attack on Charlie Hebdo someone said that in Europe today we need laughter more than ever. We also need the freedom of literature the POLIP Festival promotes more than ever. Let’s talk about freedom!



Polip 2014

16 – 18 May 2014

Opening: Friday, 16th May, at 8 pm

“Hello! We are called POLIP. More than three years ago we had an ordinary life, we had walls that disabled any communication between neighboring cultures, we lived in a house of dreams, had an almost comfortable life.    We also had the endless opportunity to not leave our country at all and to think that every national culture is the center of the world.  Then we took the ownership of a very powerful tool for the surveillance of literature.

We can follow (convey) the communication between writers from different scenes at any given time of day and night. This is a power/ force that changes the  course of the history of literature of the Balkans and Europe.    This surveillance tool is called POLIP Festival 2014. Our center is Prishtina, but we are not far from Belgrade, Sarajevo, Skopje, Zagreb, Podgorica, Novi Sad and Ljubljana. We follow as literature is created during the big protests in Kiev, in the intensive demonstrations in the Athenian syntagma, in societies in transition, which have replaced the ancient incompatibilities with new insecurity. Our agents are everywhere, you can recognize them by the commitment with which they do their work of polip. Usually they work at night, while during the day they work something else. Most of them have a double life. Their main job is, in fact, the translation of literature, and so they help us immense on the comprehensive program of surveilling it. Many of them do so in the conviction that they can change the world.  Exactly this is even happening before our eyes day by day.  The until yesterday unfamiliar scenes of Kosovo and Serbia, today can eavesdrop each-other. A similar situation reigns also in the territory of Ex- Yugoslavia. And in Europe, also. It is not easy to obtain a literature that considers such a complex reality, in which the desire to establish genuine communication between cultures is in a scandal level.
We are called POLIP. We know about which cases You write. Also, about which themes you will write in the future. During the three night in May 2014 in Prishtina, we will present you the information we succeeded to provide…”

The festival will gather authors from the region, but also from Albania, Ukraine, Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Rumania etc.

Public readings, debates on actual political and literal themes will be organized.  In the frame of the festival the special edition of the Beton International magazine will be published in English language, where the texts of the partaking Authors of the festival will be included.

The festival will last three days.

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polip – International Literature Festival
4th Edition
16- 18  May 2014
Organized by Qendra Multimedia, Prishtina
in cooperation with RK LINKS / Beton International, Belgrade


“Hello! We are called POLIP. More than three years ago we had an ordinary life: surrounded by walls that disabled any form of communication between neighboring cultures, we lived in a house of dreams and had such a comfortable life. We were able to remain fixed in one place, in a stalemate position, endlessly, and think that a national culture is the center of the world.  But one day we got a hold of a powerful tool that allows for the surveillance of literature.

Now we can survey how writers from different scenes communicate with each other at any given time, day and night. This is a powerful force that gives a new direction to the course of literature in the Balkans and Europe. This surveillance tool is called POLIP Festival 2014. Our center is in Prishtina, but we are not far from Belgrade, Sarajevo, Skopje, Zagreb, Podgorica, Novi Sad and Ljubljana. We survey closely how literature is created during the massive protests in Kiev, during the intense demonstrations in the Athenian Syntagma, in societies in transition, which have replaced the ancient incompatibilities with new insecurity. Our agents are everywhere. You can recognize them by how committed they are when they do their work of surveillance. Usually they work at night, and have another type of job during the day. Most of them lead a double life. In fact, their main duty is translation of literature, and so they contribute immensely to the overall program of surveying it. Many of them do it because they believe that this may be the only way to change the world.  Change is already happening, right in front of our eyes, day after day.  Scenes that until yesterday were unfamiliar with each other, like Kosovo and Serbia, today can eavesdrop each-other. A similar situation reigns throughout the territory of ex-Yugoslavia. Same thing in Europe. It is not easy to reach to a level of literature that embraces this reality with all its complexity, since the desire to establish a genuine communication between cultures today is almost inexistent.
We are called POLIP. We know what You are writing about. We also know what you will be writing about in the future. During three nights in May of 2014 in Prishtina, we will present to you all the information we have collected…”

The festival will gather authors from ex-Yugoslavia, but also from Albania, Ukraine, Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Rumania.

Public readings and discussions on current literary issues will be organized.  The festival will also come up with a special edition of the Beton International magazine that will be published in English language and it will also contain literary works of the participating authors of the festival.

The festival will last three days.

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Polip International Literature Festival 2013

polip – International Literature Festival
3rd Edition
10- 12  May 2013
Organized by Qendra Multimedia, Prishtina
in cooperation with BETON, Belgrade



Literature produced in happy countries is alike, but literature written in countries dominated by ongoing crisis has a uniqueness which cannot be compared to anything else.

Separate communities amongst which communication has been interrupted due to war, inter-ethnic conflict, or political tensions that last for decades, with the occasional escalation of violence, cultivate two types of literature. One is nationally aware and used in the mission of building a state to protect national and territorial interests, while the other, the literature of minorities and the marginalized, attempts to understand one side, and also, the other.

As the polip 2013 festival is organized by two organizations from such environments, they are going to present in this year’s edition, authors with experience of such a life and writing, where dealing with literature is not so simple and comfortable. Recently, the world has heard news reports on the government’s response in Azerbaijan to the novel of their respected writer Akram Eylisli, who «had the courage» to write a novel about friendship with Armenians and the violence that was committed against them in 1990 in Baku. The writer has been excluded from his community and they have started a “hunting season” towards him.

Things like this are not unknown to writers from Serbia and Kosovo. For this reason, the organizers of polip 2013 have decided to focus this year’s festival in Prishtina on the topic of the courage and personal responsibility of the author.

 The festival will gather authors of the region, including authors from Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Palestine etc. During the festival, there will be public readings, discussions on the topics of literary status in separate communities or in terms of the ongoing political crisis. In the framework of the festival, a special edition of the magazine Beton will be published in English, which will contain texts of the festival participants.


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Polip International Literature Festival 2012

polip – International Literature Festival
2nd Edition
11- 13  May 2012
Organized by Qendra Multimedia, Prishtina
in cooperation with BETON, Belgrade


The border notion in the last years has been imposed as a political phenomenon and a realistic barrier in communication, travels, and political processes but also in literary and cultural exchange. During summer 2011, a political crisis broke out in border check-points in Jarinje and Brnjak and all the same, the unsuccessful negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade entered into a new phase of crisis. Despite that, in the last two years, the alternative literary groups from these centers conducted a whole series of sessions, tribunes and presentations of anthologies that were published as the first mutual translations after almost four decades of absence and after no wish whatsoever of transcending these imposed borders in communication. polip is of international character and its topic will be the deconstruction of the notion border, the transcending of blockades within ourselves, the one which is more difficult to deconstruct then those which in the last months poped up on roads and bridges. polip will bring together authors from the Balkans, Albania, Turkey and Germany.

International literature festival polip 2012 goes far beyond the frame of a literature festival and of a mere literary connection. It is about a wider understanding of the peace building and trust concepts in a particularly traumatized region and societies that agreed to separately live and heal their own traumas without an attempt to elaborate the traumatic past and without empathy for the Other.

In this case, the field of literature should be understood as a basic zone of mutual communication which will enable the process of conflict transformation in the region. It is obvious that the political negotiations are limited and that there is no capacity to overcome borders (physical and personal ones) in communication and in problem resolution.

polip 2012 with its very concepts contains elements of action towards conflict transformation and trust building. The consent of authors to gather in this kind of festival is not only a literary event but also a responsible participation in a project that is being realized despite the radical tightness of communities from which authors come – Serbia/Kosovo. The presence of other authors from the region contextualizes the whole process and frames it in a wider social context. Translations of texts, publication of Beton in Albanian, public readings and roundtables on the topic of dealing with the past represent a significant step towards strategic construction of trust and peace. polip Festival is a second step in this direction. The first one was the publication of two anthologies of contemporary literature from Kosovo and Serbia. The aim of this process is to penetrate to local society and its institutions, first through cultural centers, and then through libraries and schools. In order for that to happen, it is essential to have translated texts as well as authors who are willing to participate in those projects, at the same time risking their status back home. And that is already a priceless output.

As well as readings, there will be a multifaceted polip special programme with concerts, street poetry, workshops, discussions and debates over:

  1. The status of independent intellectual in Kosovo and Serbia societies
  2. Remembrance and Literature
  3. Subversive literary practices in the surroundings of rigid politics

For further information check our blog and have a look at the photo-gallery.

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polip international poetry festival 2010

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