The 13th international literary festival Druskininkai Poetic Fall took place October 3-7 in Druskininkai and Vilnius. 123 poets, translators, critics, literary scholars, and publishers participated.

Those in attendance included John F. Deane (Ireland), Andrej Khadanovich (Belarus), Dostena Anguelova-Lavergne (Bulgaria), Sean O'Brien (Great Britain), Andres Ehin (Estonia), Panos Stathoyannis (Greece), Ađalstein Ásberg Sigurđsson (Iceland), Craig Czury, J.C. Todd (USA), Pēters Bruveris, Pēteris Draguns, Inga Gaile, Liana Langa, Roberts Mūks (Latvia), Leszek Engelking (Poland), Gerardo Beltrán (Mexico), Knut Ødegard (Norway), Thorvald Steen (Norway), Erik Menkveld (The Netherlands), Dmitry Bak (Russia), Thomas Tidholm (Sweden), S. Surang (Thailand), and more than 60 poets from Lithuania. We began this first of the planned cycle of four festivals devoted to the elements with the most active element – fire. The theme of the conference was "Poetry and the Elements: Fire." The guest at DPF this year was the art of fire sculpture. This year's festival differed from earlier ones in that more literary scholars participated. The conference was chaired by Kęstutis Nastopka and Marijus Šidlauskas. In the evening of that same day, by Druskonis Lake, a celebration of poetry and fire was held. 33 poets from Lithuania and from abroad read their works both on land and on two rafts, and well-known artists – Ramūnas Alminas, Eglė Ridikaitė, Valdas Simutis, Danielius Kesminas, Savajūnas Ūdrys, and Rimvydas Pupelis – displayed their fire sculptures.

On Saturday, October 5, as usual, the renga session took place and the year's published collections of poetry were presented. Lithuanian Writers' Union Publishers was acknowledged as publishing the greatest number of poetry books. But one event was new this year – chamber readings by Lithuanian poets. Three groups read their works: two of them gathered together (or were united) only for those readings, and the third, which had earlier published a collective anthology and which had, it appears, disbanded, came together once again, though not all of its original members participated – the collective known as The Strange.

In Druskininkai the group was represented by Donatas Valančiauskas, Dainius Dirgėla, Alvydas Šlepikas, and Valdas Gedgaudas. Also participating in the readings was a group of female poets from Kaunas, calling themselves "Kaunetės," who were led by the playful Kęstutis Navakas, and a group from the West and North, calling themselves that – "Nord West" – which was led by the poet from Palanga Elena Karnauskaitė.

The final formal evening of poetry followed tradition. The Jotvingių Prize was awarded to Lithuanian poet Jonas Zdanys, who lives in the United States, for his collection of poetry Dūmų stulpai (Pillars of Smoke, Lithuanian Writers' Union Publishers, 2002) and for his translations into English of Lithuanian poetry. The prize for the best poetic debut was awarded to Gytis Norvilas, for his collection Akmen-skeltės (Stone-Cleavings, Lithuanian Writers' Union Publishers, 2002). Winners of the anonymous poetry competitions are listed below. The renga was also read collectively.

The night readings, which were led by Liudvikas Jakimavičius and Alvydas Šlepikas, were begun by Little Monkey Agota (actress Olita Dautartaitė, with text by Vladas Braziūnas), and were continued by various poets and musicians; there was singing, jazz, and dancing. First place in the humorous competition was given to Liudvikas Jakimavičius, for his "Statement to the District Police," and to Angė Žagrakalytė for her poem-object.

More events this year took place in Vilnius. The Festival began with readings by younger poets in the Writers' Union on Thursday, October 3. Jury awarded prizes to the young writers, which were distributed during the concluding night readings. Third place was won by Laurynas Rimševičius for his continuation of the tradition; second place went to Marius Burokas for his affirmation of the new tradition; and first place to Inga Gaile (from Latvia) for the general excellence of her poetry (translated by Erika Drungytė). Sunday evening in the Vilnius City Hall poems were read by John F. Deane (Ireland), Sean O'Brien (Great Britain), Andres Ehin (Estonia), Panos Stathoyannis (Greece), Ađalstein Ásberg Sigurđsson (Iceland), J.C. Todd (USA), Thorvald Steen (Norway), and Thomas Tidholm (Sweden). At the Jazz& Rock café, Vladimir Tarasov's "Sonatina for Poet's Voices (Gerardo Beltrán, Sigitas Geda, Kerry Shawn Keys, Artūras Valionis), oboe (Juozas Rimas), contrabass (Eugenijus Kanevičius), and percussion (Vladimir Tarasov)" was performed. Andrei Khadanovich (Belarus), Craig Czury (USA), and Leszek Engelking (Poland) read from their works. Informal readings in the Užupis Café, led by Liudvikas Jakamavičius, also concluded successfully.
In addition to the events planned in the program, there were two meetings with students: on October 4, poets Arnas Ališauskas, Donaldas Kajokas, Darius Šimonis, Donatas Valančiauskas and prose writer Marius Ivaškevičius visted the Atgimimo School, while poet Craig Czury from the United States conducted a poetry class for a group of the school's students. On October 7, Norwegian poets Thorvald Steen and Knut Ødegard visited the Scandinavian Department at the University of Vilnius.

Kornelijus Platelis
Translated by Jonas Zdanys

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