Source: Forum for Art and Literature (Kuul), Vienna
A vision at a glance:
In 2006 an idea was born, to start a collection of Iranian contemporary literature in Vienna. The motives were numerous:
The current government had targeted and repressed the Iranian authors within the political boarders of Iran. This was more severe than ever. They were systematically preventing books and new literature from flourishing. As a prime example one may cite analogical scenes like the night of broken glass of the NS era.
Many intellectual Iranians having to leave their chairs and prohibited from entering the university grounds ever.
In 2005 the number of recent publications was dropped from 40,000 to 400 and the reprint of several novels and lyric volumes were prevented.
Government actions leading to a sharp loss of identity and unrecoverable richness of contemporary Persian lyrics and prose.
The 2nd and 3rd generations of immigrants with Persian origin grew and evolved in Austria, not knowing or learning much of their parents. Almost 5 million Iranians have left their country since 1979 (sustainable trend)
It was, therefore, deemed as a necessity for us to bring a small group of literature and art enthusiasts together. Thus, the private initiative of "Liberty of the Word" was created. The municipal main library provided an area for the book collection of Persian contemporary literature. The appropriate infrastructure was set up to handle this initiative with utmost care.
To decide which books to select, three literature professors from Iran were consulted. A list of 100 selected titles and authors was made from candidate titles. The books were donated by private libraries and dedicated exile authors and publishers. Many Iranian students supported this project by bringing the books from Iran to Vienna. Some are still to be brought in. The books were selected very carefully in Iran. The process of acquiring the books from flourishing underground black markets has proven to be very difficult and expensive.
The electronic provisions of the modern Viennese library permitted the highest possible security for conservation as well as public accessibility of these books. Up to 40% of all books are irretrievable and unpurchasable. We try to get the complete single editions; a hard work for now and future.
Even before the collection was announced officially, the high usage of the books convinced the authorities in the library of our efforts. Currently, the Vienna collection may be one of the largest Persian contemporary literature in the world.
To introduce this collection to a broader audience we started with the bilingual book reading series "Liberty of the Word". The readings are held always simultaneously in two languages (Persian / German). The throngs of interested audience turned out to be overwhelming. Each time up to 200 people attended the readings. The bilingualism of the events attracted a multicultural public and has proved that the concept is successful. Each of these events attracts about 22 different ethnic groups beside Austrians and Iranian immigrants to the main library.
Achievement of all of these is owed to the dedication, strong commitment and conviction of the organizers. An intercultural flow took place, which speeded up the birth of an institution. An institution, that deals with the topic "Freedom" for the literature and art.
It was only natural for these activities and successes to become the driving force of an initiative called Forum for Art and Literature (KuuL) as governed by the laws of Associations. The target group includes all ethnic groups living in Austria, all people (artists, art promoters and the society as a universal audience) interested in intercultural exchange who like to contribute actively to social-intellectual processes in Austria and beyond. An institution, that tries to visualize democracy. Kuul is an experience and an exercise to appreciate democracy.
In October 2008 KuuL is going to organize a 3-day literature event with five Iranian exile authors in Vienna within the framework of European Year of Languages.
Prestigious exile authors and poets like Hamid Sadr (exile author, winner of Bruno Kreisky and Canetti award, living in Vienna); Shahnush Parsipur (leading exile author and famous for the book "Women without Men", living in Richmond, CA); Lobat Vala (as a pioneer of Iranian modern poetry, living in London); Abbas Maroufi (winner of numerous awards; his book "Symphony of the Dead" ranked under the top 100 English books in 2008, living in Berlin), Reza Daneshvar (author of the book Les Braves des Braves, living in Paris) forearmed with the instruments of multilingualism. They are all invited to set a course devoted to appreciation of democracy in literature.
The event "Liberty of the Word V" takes place from October 24th to the 26th with a book exhibition, a podium discussion and a bilingual marathon reading (German / Persian).
All invited authors and experts share a deep and inseparable relationship in regards to the culture and language of Iran. This forum allows them to express their point of view internationally on a western democratic soil. A common attribute of all these personalities is their exemplary dedication for the language of the host country as a means toward social integration.
The book exhibition will feature about 150 book titles starting on October 24th for one month. It intends to introduce Persian contemporary literature in Persian as well as in different European languages. The exhibition is for all interested people in Persian literature. Publishers' prospectus and information for audience and authors will be provided. Up to 12 publishers have already agreed to attend.
On the evening of October 24th there will be a public podium discussion in regards to the importance of Persian contemporary literature in the west. The following people will be present: Hamid Sadr (author), Shahrnush Parsipur (author), Publisher Gardoon (Berlin), Prof. Gerhard Budin (Dean of the Centre for Translation, University of Vienna), etc.
The marathon book reading ""Liberty of the Word"" takes place on October 25th in Audi-Max of the University of Vienna. The above named authors will attend. This event will be followed by an extraordinary music improvisation celebration, a contribution using the universal language of music to realize a continent overarching concept beyond any verbal boarder.
At conclusion of the event on October 26th the organizers and the invited authors and artists will seal the constitution of the first Viennese circle for literature and art and end the event with a clear objective to further international activities.
As always, the organizers adhere strictly to the principle of autonomy. We see in our efforts an educational objective for the society encompassing all present and future generations.
We believe in freedom of information and want to support it with all the available legitimate and peaceful instruments.
... Payvand News - 10/09/08 ... --