On 23rd April, 2014, which is the World Book and Copyright Day, 50 literary benches appeared in the Planty Park. To each of them a name plate of a literary patron – a writer or a poet associated with Krakow – is fixed. The selection of authors is as wide as possible in order to present all aspects of wealth and diversity of the literary legacy of Krakow, ranging from Jan Kochanowski to Ziemowit Szczerek, from Czesław Miłosz to… Graham Masterton (a part of his Basilisk takes place in Krakow). Among others, also Jaroslav Hašek, Honoré de Balzac, Thomas Keneally, William Styron, Jacek Dukaj, Jerzy Pilch, Joseph Conrad, Sławomir Mrożek, Stanisław Lem and Witold Gombrowicz have their benches here.
Next to the name a special QR code is placed on each plaque. After scanning it with a tablet or a smartphnone one can access the project website, and read there an excerpt from a text by a given author, listen to its recording in Polish and in English, and find the author’s biographical note. Additionally, the website offers an interactive map thanks to which one can easily find all literary benches, as well as the selected, most important literary addresses in Krakow.
Thanks to the archive recordings, the project will allow us to hear, among others, the voices of Wisława Szymborska, Czesław Miłosz, Adam Zagajewski, Ryszard Krynicki, Ewa Lipska, Julia Hartwig, or Ziemowit Szczerek. The participation of the literary circles of Krakow in the project is noteworthy, as some of the readers are singers, men of letters, editors, literary journalists and bloggers, or literary critics, including Grzegorz Turnau, Bronisław Maj, Piotr Mucharski, Zośka Papużanka, Jerzy Franczak, Szymon Kloska, Tomasz Pindel, Łukasz Wojtusik, Marcin Wilk, Łukasz Dębski, and even (going far beyond the borders of Krakow) Graham Masterton and Robert Hass (a distinguished American poet and translator of Czesław Miłosz’s works). The publishers who are the project partners have also made available to us some fragments of audiobooks and recordings featuring Marek Kondrat, Jerzy Trela, Borys Szyc or Maciej Stuhr.
The purpose of the City Codes project consists in emphasizing in the public space the prestigious UNESCO City of Literature title which Krakow received on 21st October, 2013, as the first Slavonic city. In this way, the idea of literature penetrating into the city tissue is coming true. This was inspired by a similar project implemented in Reykjavik, one of the partner Creative Cities of Literature.
Rules and regulations of the project
It would not be possible to implement such a complex project without the participation of a number of Friends and Partners. The most cordial thanks and words of appreciation for their invaluable help, enthusiasm and enormous commitment go to:
- the Publishers who provided us with the materials necessary for the project, such as text fragments, audio recording, authors’ photographs. They included: Wydawnictwo Literackie, a5, Ha!art, Znak, as well as Bona, Świat Książki, Rebis and Wydawnictwo Św.Stanisława BM);
- the Students of the Philological Faculty at the Jagiellonian University (the Faculty of English Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Translation Studies and Intercultural Communication) who under the vigilant eye of their tutors masterly translated into English some fragments of more than 40 very demanding literary texts;
- Radio Krakow, which made available for the purpose of the project some precious recordings from its archives;
- the Experts with whom we cooperated: Ewa Zamorska-Przyłuska, the author of the Literary Guide to Krakow and Malopolska Region, and doctor habilitatus Jakub Niedźwiedź from the Chair of History of Old Polish Literature at the Faculty of Polish Studies at the Jagiellonian University.The City Codes Project becomes part of a series of actions carried out by the Krakow Festival Office, promoting the literary image of the city. The Krakow Festival Office organizes two great literary festivals (the annual Conrad Festival and the biannual Czesław Miłosz Festival). It gets involved in the initiatives of the publishing companies located in the city and cooperates closely with the Book Fair, regarded as the most important book trade event. It also supports all initiatives introducing the inhabitants of Krakow and tourists to literature. As part of the Reading Malopolska program, on the other hand, the Krakow Festival Office carries out promotional campaigns aimed at emphasizing the region’s literary potential. For more than two years, together with the Bookeriada.pl portal, the Krakow Festival Office has organized free book swapping, The Second Life of a Book, which has been appreciated by readers, and which every month attracts hundreds of reading enthusiasts. Also, not by chance, in Krakow as in the first city in Poland, a Place for a Reader, was marked three years ago in the public transport vehicles.