An author from Cambridge and an artist from Melbourne to be the new guests of the Literary Residency in Ulyanovsk

The guests’ names invited to the International Literary residency in Ulyanovsk are announced. In 2020 and 2021 a poet, translator, and publisher from Cambridge James Womack and an artist, translator from Melbourne Mark Wingrave will work in Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature.

The Open Call for the International Literary Residency was announced in early 2020. Applications were accepted from candidates who live, work in UNESCO literary cities, or whose activities are related to these cities.  This season's competition accepted applications not only from writers and translators but also from artists involved in interdisciplinary literary projects. The Jury of the competition – the representatives of literature, culture, and education of Ulyanovsk – chose two winners.

In autumn 2020, Ulyanovsk is waiting for a poet, translator, teacher, and publisher James Womack from Cambridge (the UK). He graduated from Oxford University, studied Russian, he is the author of three poetry collections, translator from Russian and Spanish (he translated texts of Mayakovsky, Khlebnikov, Tvardovsky, Vampilov, Kibirov, etc.). Womack is the founder of Nevsky Prospects, a publishing house that translates Russian literature. His second poetry collection ON TRUST was long-listed for the prestigious International Dylan Thomas Prize in 2018 and shortlisted for the 2019 Ledbury Forte Second Collection Prize. In 2019 the author was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship and Residency. The author has creative and working relations with different UNESCO literary cities. Thus, he studied in Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature, was published by Carcanet publishing house, which is based in another UNESCO literary city, Manchester.

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In Ulyanovsk, James Womack will work on a poetic sequence, «Letters to Ivan Goncharov». «I’m fascinated by Goncharov: a man who wrote both the best travelogue of the nineteenth century, “The frigate Pallada” and “Oblomov”, a novel which revolves around the idea of a refusal to travel or do anything at all apart from dream. As I address his spirit, I will investigate this double concept, of travel and stasis, as well as the ways the city of Ulyanovsk, a place of revolutionary dreams and physical industry, embodies it. Current issues, such as disease and having to rethink our ideas of travel, will feed into these letters, as I wonder what Goncharov, and Oblomov, would make of our world. I have been fascinated with Russia ever since I was a teenager. I studied Russian and English at Oxford University, and have tried at every stage in my career since then to get as close to Russia as I can», James Womack said. 

In 2021, the artist, translator, and teacher Mark Wingrave from Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature in Australia will visit Ulyanovsk. He graduated from Bath Academy of Art and Chelsea School of Art (the UK), studied Russian, his artistic projects, in which he has been involved for over 40 years, are closely linked to literature and texts by contemporary authors.  Many of Wingrave's projects and exhibitions are dedicated to the visualization and translation of Russian literature. In particular, he has worked on the texts of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Elena Schwartz, Nikolai Gogol, Eugenia Ritz, and others. He also creates art books, his works have been exhibited at national and international exhibitions, he has worked in England, in residencies in Italy, Australia, and Switzerland.

«My paintings resemble book covers; graphic forms that represent what is inside. The paintings rely on carefully crafted relationships between the words and colour, they are precisely painted in alternating thick and thin paint», Mark Wingrave says.

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In Ulyanovsk, Mark Wingrave intends to work on several interdisciplinary projects: to create an exhibition of paintings, a small bilingual book, and a colour word projection. Bringing literature, art, and the people together «Voices of the River» project will celebrate the Volga as a key feature of the Ulyanovsk’s cultural and environmental life. The projects will be associated with the works of Goncharov and contemporary writers of Ulyanovsk, in the text of which the Volga appears. He also plans to run a writing and painting workshop entitled “Memory and the River”.

The guests will present the results of their work in Ulyanovsk on a meeting with locals. Residents will also take part in the literary life of the city and get acquainted with local authors and artists. In connection with the pandemic situation, the exact dates for residents’ stay in Ulyanovsk will be determined later.

In 2019 the poet and editor from Ljubljana, Andrej Hochevar, and the poet from Dunedin David Howard became the first guests of The International Literary residency in Ulyanovsk.

Also, in August 2020 it’s planned to launch the International Children's Literary Residency with a rich educational program in Ulyanovsk. The open call for participation will be announced as an online contest among readers and employees of the organizations of the “Commonwealth of Libraries named after Sergei Mikhalkov”, which includes libraries from Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Belarus, Ireland. The project was developed by representatives of the non-profit sector of Ulyanovsk in cooperation with the “Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature” program. This project became the winner of a grant competition in the framework of the federal project "Creative People" of the national project "Culture", conducted by the "Russian Cultural Foundation."