The International Literary Ice Rink in Ulyanovsk brought together the contemporary poetry of UNESCO literary cities

On January 5, the International Literary Ice Rink opened on the Cathedral Square of Ulyanovsk. On the main square of the city, poems from Ulyanovsk and UNESCO literary cities were broadcasted in the original languages, recorded by the authors. From January 6 to 10, it was possible to hear the voices of poets from different countries at four other ice rinks in the Zavolzhsky and Zheleznodorozhny districts of the city.

The International Literary Ice Rink is a new project of the Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature Program, the Department of Culture and Leisure of the Population of the Ulyanovsk City Administration, and the Centralized Library System of Ulyanovsk. It is timed to the opening of the Year of the Book in the Ulyanovsk region and the 5th anniversary of the "Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature" designation. 


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    -    This is another event that brings literature to the urban space and recalls the unifying role of literature in the difficult period of the pandemic. The project involves poets from Ulyanovsk, Heidelberg, Baghdad, Dublin, Nanjing, Cambridge, Quebec, Cobourg, Manchester, Milan, Kharkiv, Reykjavik, Dublin, Wonju. The poets showed great interest in the project, which brings literature out of closed spaces, - said the curator of the project, "Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature" program coordinator Gala Uzryutova.

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On the main square, one could not only listen to the audio recordings of the authors but also learn more about them: the video with information about the poets was broadcast on the big screen.

Ulyanovsk residents heard the poems both in the native languages ​​of the authors and in Russian, read by the poet Sergei Gogin, who translated the texts.

- Participation in such projects is important and valuable in that you are invited to surpass yourself a little, to grow above yourself - in a creative sense. Every translation is a challenge, small or big. It was interesting because the authors are very different. I had to make some kind of discovery every time, - said Sergei Gogin.


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The project brought together a wide range of diverse authors.  

Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature, Iceland

Hallgrimur Helgason is an Icelandic writer and artist born in Reykjavik in 1959. Helgason started as a painter and has held over 30 solo shows and participated in over 30 group exhibitions home and abroad. He published his first novel in 1990 and got his international breakthrough as a writer with the publication of the novel 101 Reykjavik in 1996. In 2001 he was awarded the Icelandic Literary Prize for his novel The Author of Iceland. His best-known books are The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning (2008), which he wrote in English, and Woman at 1000 Degrees (2011). Two of his novels have been filmed, 101 Reykjavik (2000) and Stormland (2011), and four of his novels have been put on stage. He has also written two books of poetry, worked for film and theatre, and translated two of Shakespeare’s plays into Icelandic. In 1995 Helgason had a short career as a stand-up comedian, introducing the genre to his countrymen. The same year saw the birth of his alter ego Grim, a cartoon character he has been working with ever since. Hallgrímur Helgason is an active participant in the political debate of Iceland and has written numerous articles for Icelandic and international newspapers.

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Heidelberg UNESCO City of Literature, Germany

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Ralph Dutli, born in 1954 in Switzerland, lives in Heidelberg for the past 25 years. He is a poet, novelist, essayist, translator of Russian poetry (works by Ossip Mandelstam, Marina Tsvetaeva, Joseph Brodsky). His novel "Soutine's Last Journey" has been translated into several European languages receiving various literary awards. Four of his books were translated into Russian: a biography of Ossip Mandelstam under the title "My Time, My Beast" ("Век мой, зверь мой"); "Soutine's Last Journey" upon the last days in the life of the Belarus-Jewish painter Chaim Soutine ("Последнее странствие Сутина"); two essay books presenting the cultural history of the olive tree ("Дивная олива") and the honey bee ("Песнь о меде") - published by Ivan Limbakh Publishing House, Saint Petersburg. The winter poem is from the poetry book "Novalis in the vineyard".


Dr. Katharina Dück (1982), philosopher and linguist at the Leibniz-Institute for the German Language, teaches at the University of Mannheim. Co-founder of the poet collective ,KAMINA‘ in Heidelberg (2011) and the literary network ,TeXtur‘ in Neustadt (2017). Since 2017 head of the literature working group in the Fördergemeinschaft Herrenhof Mußbach e.V. Her literary focus is poetry.

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Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, Ireland

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Doireann Ní Ghríofa is an Irish poet and essayist. Her most recent book is the bestseller ‘A Ghost in the Throat,’ which finds the eighteenth-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill haunting the life of a contemporary young mother, prompting her to turn detective. Doireann is also the author of six critically-acclaimed books of poetry, each a deepening exploration of birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Awards for her writing include a Lannan Literary Fellowship (USA), the Ostana Prize (Italy), a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen’s University), the Hartnett Poetry Award, and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, among others. 

Cobourg, Canada

Stuart Ross is a Canadian fiction writer, poet, editor, and creative-writing instructor. He is known for the many literary events that he conducted in the streets, in bars, art galleries, cafes, shopping centers, and schools. His 2009 short-story collection, Buying Cigarettes for the Dog, was shortlisted for the Alberta Readers' Choice Award and the Alberta Book Awards, and won the 2010 ReLit Award for Short Fiction. In 2012, he co-won the Elaine Mona Adilman Award for English Fiction & Poetry on a Jewish Theme, awarded by the J.I. Segal Committee of the Jewish Public Library in Montreal, for his novel Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew. In spring 2013, Ross's poetry collection You Exist. Details Follow. won the Exist Through The Gift Shop Award, the only prize given to an anglophone writer that year by the Montreal-based group l'Académie de la vie littéraire au tournant du 21e siècle In fall 2017, Stuart's poetry collection A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent received the Canadian Jewish Literary Award in the poetry category. In September 2019, Ross was the recipient of the Harbourfront Festival Prize, awarded at the Toronto International Festival of Authors.

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Québec UNESCO City of Literature, Canada

The recordings were produced by Le Bureau des affaires poétiques, in collaboration with CKIA, a local radio station, and were a part of a bigger project called Détourner la pub, and were presented during the 2020 edition of the Mois de la poésie festival.

Laura Doyle Péan, a bookseller, communication and cinema studies graduate, law student, poet, and activist, the 21-year-old Haitian-Quebecois artist is interested in the links between language and identity, and in the role art plays in social transformations and social justice movements. Since 2015, Laura has participated in several dance, theater, literary arts, and multidisciplinary productions. In 2019, they joined the feminist collective Les Allumeuses, where they evolve alongside 4 other emerging artists, exploring ways to develop more ethical and non-hierarchical work practices within the cultural field and to address feminist struggles through art. Laura’s first poetry book, Coeur Yoyo, was published by Mémoire d'encrier in August 2020. The book deals with relationships, vulnerability, heartbreak, grief, and loneliness, examining how art can serve as a healing practice.

Alex Thibodeau, a writer, poet from Quebec, Award finalist Prix de la nouvelle (Radio-Canada 2019). Her first book Infantia was published in 2020.

Carol-Ann Belzil-Normand (1985) lives and works in Quebec. Her animated films have participated in numerous film festivals. In 2020, the author's book Sanités (Moult Éditions) was published.

Carolanne Foucher, an author from Quebec, connects acting and poetic skill, performs in theaters, works as a script editor in many theatrical projects. Two collections of poems by the author published in Édition de Ta Mère.

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Cambridge (UK)

James Womack, a poet, translator, and publisher. The author is expected to become a guest of the International Literary Residency in Ulyanovsk in 2021. James Womack graduated from Oxford University, studied Russian, translated texts by Mayakovsky, Khlebnikov, Tvardovsky, Vampilov, Kibirov, and others. He also founded the Nevsky Prospects publishing house, which is engaged in the translation of Russian literature. 

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Nanjing UNESCO City of Literature, China

Hu Xian was born in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province in 1966, now lives in Nanjing. A poet and an essayist, he is now Editor-in-Chief of The Yangtze River Poetry Journal. His published poetry and essay collections include Rain(2015), Ten Year Lamp (2015), Hourglass (2016), The One Who Never Returned (2016), and Empty Staircases (2017). Awards he received include: Ten Best Young Poets in 21st Century (by Poetry Periodical in 2009), Poet of the Year (by Poetry Periodical in 2014), October Literary Award (2018), Poet of the Year (by Xingxing Poetry Journal in 2018), and Lu Xun Literature Award(2018). His works have been translated into English, Spanish, and French.

Baghdad UNESCO City of Literature, Iraq

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Sadek Mohammed is a poet, translator, essayist, and academic. He is the author of the collection of poetry Archeology of Scorched Cities (2013), the co-editor of Flowers of Flame: Unheard Voices of Iraq (2008), which was awarded the IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award in 2009, and Ishtar's Songs: Iraqi Poetry since the 1970s (2011). Mohammed currently is the Executive Director of Baghdad UNESCO City of Literature and a professor of modern poetry and literary criticism at the University of Mustansiriya in Baghdad.  

Wonju UNESCO City of Literature, South Korea

Kim Seong Soo, a poet, a senior member of Wonju Writers' Association and served as an advisor to Gangwon Writers' Association. He made his debut as a poet in a literary contest held by one of Korea's major daily newspapers, receiving a prize of excellence. He was also awarded a grand prize in Culture and Art Awards held by Korea Arts Federation. He has published 18 poetry books.

Nam Goong Ran, a narrator. She made her debut as a poet in 2016. She published a poetry book. She is a member of the Wonju Writers' Association and also of two other literary organizations. 

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Milan UNESCO City of Literature, Italy

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Ada Negri (3 February 1870 – 11 January 1945) was an Italian poet and writer. Ada Negri was born in Lodi, Italy into an artisan family to Giuseppe Negri alongside his wife Vittoria Cornalba. She attended Lodi’s Normal School for Girls and earned an elementary teacher’s diploma. At eighteen, she took a position as a schoolteacher in the village of Motta Visconti, on the Ticino, near Pavia. Her first volume of lyrics, Fatalità, (1892) confirmed her reputation as a poet and led to her appointment to the normal school in Milan. Her second book of poems, Tempeste (1896), tells the helpless tragedy of the forsaken poor. She was a frequent visitor to Laglio on Lake Como, where she wrote her only novel, an autobiographical work, Stella Mattutina (Morning Star), published in 1921, and in English in 1930. During an extended stay on Capri that began in March 1923, she wrote I canti dell'isola.

Manchester UNESCO City of Literature, the UK

Shamshad Khan, a poet, she is also involved in producing performances that are touring national theaters. 

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Kharkiv, Ukraine

Vladislav Petrenko (born in 1985) is a poet, author of several poetry collections. Diploma-recipient of several literary festivals and literary awards. The organizer of the projects "Islands" (2014), "Birth" (2015). Some of the works were translated into Polish, Russian, and English.

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Ulyanovsk poetry was presented by the poems of Nikolai Blagov, Sergei Gogin, Danila Nozdryakov, Igor Ulitin, Gala Uzryutova, etc. 

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Nikolai Blagov (1931-1992), a poet, journalist. The laureate of the All-Soviet Union Youth Festival. 18 collections of Blagov's poems were published. Since 2012, in Ulyanovsk poets are awarded the annual regional poetry Prize named after N.N. Blagov.

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Sergei Gogin, a journalist, editor, writer, poet, literary critic, translator from/into English. Worked for 30 years as a writer, literary critic, and editor in print and broadcast media. Now a freelance journalist. His literary criticism was published in leading literary magazines in Russia. Graduated from the School of Communication, The American University, Washington, D.C. (Master’s degree in journalism and public affairs). Since September 2014, he is the coordinator of the literary studio, since February 2016 - conducts the English conversation club "Crossroads".

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Danila Nozdryakov, a poet, writer, was born in 1986 in Ulyanovsk, Russia. Graduated from Ulyanovsk State University, worked as a teacher of philosophy and history, now he is a journalist. In 2020, the well-known Publishing House Voimega (Moscow) published the debut Danila's poetry book, titled «The Volga Children's Republic». Awards: a winner of the Verslibr International Literary Contest, a diploma winner of the International Voloshin's Literary Contest, a participant of The Lipki International Young Writers Forum, and the Moscow Writers' Union Workshop.

Gala Uzryutova is a Russian poet, prose writer and playwright. The author of three books, photo projects, interdisciplinary art projects. The Sasha Country young adult book is to be filmed by Russian film company Vega Film. Texts were translated into Deutsche, English, Slovenian, Latvian, Italian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian. Was born in 1983, in Ulyanovsk, Russia, graduated from Ulyanovsk State University, Faculty of Culture and Art. The Winner of the Moscow Modern Art Museum "Garage" contest on self-isolation texts and visual materials (2020), Laureate of the Russian-Italian literary prose award "Rainbow" (Verona, Italy, 2019), Scholar of the Goethe-Institut "Culture on the Move" Programme (2019), Laureate of the European Theater Translation Network drama contest Eurodram (2018), Laureate of the Prose literary award Bookscriptor 2018, Diplomat of the literary award named after Dmitry Gorchev (2017), Laureate of the International drama contest «Badenweiler 2016», Laureate of the Blagov poetry award (2016), Laureate of the special poetic award «Russian Gulliver-2014». A participant of international literary residencies, projects, and festivals.

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Igor Ulitin is a poet, journalist, photographer from Ulyanovsk. Laureate of the contests "First Dew", "Vers libre", "Flight of Fantasy". He was on the long list of the Filatov Festival. 

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Besides, the registered guests were able to receive by e-mail an electronic program with information about the authors, as well as their texts in the original and translation.

Later, an audio clip with the voices of all the poets participating in the International Literary Ice Rink will also appear on the YouTube channel of the Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature Program.

Photo: Centralized library system of Ulyanovsk, Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of literature Program Directorate, TV channel "Reporter73"