“You don’t imagine how inspiring the air is around here.” This is how Oksana Zabużko described the atmosphere of her literary residency in Gdańsk. The Ukrainian writer and five other writers and authors stayed in Gdańsk in 2022 under the Literary Residency programme organised by the City Culture Institute.

Oksana Zabużko
photo: Bartosz Bańka

Oksana Zabużko is one of the foremost Ukrainian writers and philosophers, having written over 20 prize-winning books with poetry, prose, essays, and philosophical texts. The outbreak of the full-scale war in Ukraine in February 2022 prevented her from returning to the country. The writer used her residency to work on her new book and meet with the local creative circles and readers.

Gdańsk Literary Residencies is a project addressed to writers, poets, and translators from Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus. The programme was launched in 2021. 

Summary of 2021 Literary Residencies

“We want to showcase Gdańsk as a city that welcomes writers and translators and can provide them with ample inspiration,” says Aleksandra Szymańska, director of the City Culture Institute. “We strongly believe that the presence of these authors in Gdańsk, the contact networks, and conversations contribute to the city’s diversity, enriching both us and our guests.”

This year’s open call spanned different subjects, leading to a selection of five programme participants. In September, Błażej Warkocki was in Gdańsk for a humanities residency dedicated to the work of Maria Janion. Apart from retracing Gdańsk aspects of Professor Janion’s biography, the researcher held a lecture and workshops titled “From Transgression to Disorientation, or queer in Polish.”

Two residencies were prepared for Ukrainian authors. In October, Gdańsk hosted writers Natalia Matoliniec – author of prize-winning young adult novels and Roksolana Żarkova – essayist, literary critic, and researcher of women’s literature. The Gdańsk audience, academic and student circles had the opportunity to meet the writers at the City Culture Institute, at the University of Gdańsk and libraries in Gdańsk and Gdynia.

Natalia Matoliniets
photo: Bartosz Bańka
Roksolana Zharkova
photo: Bartosz Bańka

“Coming to Gdańsk and working here has given me a breath of fresh air. It’s more than just staying in a safe place – it’s an opportunity to be alone with myself and my thoughts,” says Natalia Matoliniec.

Translator Gabriela Abrasowicz came to Gdańsk in early November to work on her translation of Bosnian-Serbian dramatist Tanja Šljivar. The author shared her knowledge with Gdańsk students during a meeting at the University of Gdańsk’s Division of Slavonic and Balkan Studies with a lecture titled “Migrations in post-Yugoslavian dramatist and theatrical productions.” 

Gabriela Abrasowicz
photo: Bartosz Bańka

“I enjoyed tremendous work comfort, even work-life balance. I reconciled intense translation work with sightseeing and meetings with very interesting people,” said Gabriela Abrasowicz about her residency in Gdańsk.

The translator’s residence enabled her to finish work on Tanja Šljivar’s oeuvre. The book We Are the Ones… and other dramas has recently been published. LINK do książki:  Jestesmy tymi… i inne dramaty | Agencja Dramatu i Teatru „ADiT”

In partnership with the Old Town House of Culture in Warsaw and the Kraków Festival Bureau, we have launched a website dedicated to literary residencies in Poland: http://literaryresidenciespoland.pl and a dedicated Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2897784220505632 to exchange information about ongoing programmes and scholarships for authors interested in residency programmes. The project’s partners are the Literary Union and the Association of Literary Translators.

In 2023, the City Culture Institute and the City of Gdańsk will again invite authors for creative residencies to Gdańsk.

The project is financed by a core grant funded by the City of Gdańsk.