First International Literary Congress held in Vilnius


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Vilnius, the UNESCO City of Literature, hosted the first-ever International Literary Congress for literary professionals – a testament to the city’s growing prominence in the literary world.


Attendees of the International Literary Congress included writers, organizers of various initiatives, publishers, and literary agents. The event, hosted in Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius, encouraged the spread of Lithuanian literature to other countries. Event sessions and discussions introduced Vilnius’s city libraries and University to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of Lithuanian literature among the international literary community.


Twenty-five literary professionals from the UK, Germany, the United States, Sweden, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Slovenia attended the congress. Among them were festival organizers, publishers, translators, and librarians.




Tatiana Rodionova, a renowned curator of the BAZHAN residency and director of the Translatorium festival, was one of the esteemed participants.


“Events like this are a great opportunity to break out of the work routine and look at what you’re doing from a distance, as well as study the experience of other countries and draw parallels between it and your experience.


For me, most interesting were the meetings with the organizers of the Lithuanian literary festivals, and getting familiar with various cultural institutions in Vilnius. These include the Writers’ Union, which, unlike the one in Ukraine, is actively involved in the contemporary literary process in Lithuania, and the House of Literature, where most of the congress events took place. Beyond that, it is also an opportunity to communicate with colleagues from different countries, not just from Lithuania. You never know which conversation will lead you to a new project! I hope that the few ideas that I brought back from the congress for the TRANSLATORIUM festival will be realized soon.


It was a great pleasure, and a poignant moment, to listen to dissident Thomas Ventslovas, a classic Lithuanian poet, as well as poems by Marius Burokas about wartime Ukraine. I think that Ukraine could host such congresses in the future, because our experience of culture during the war is truly unique, and the need to introduce contemporary Ukrainian literature to foreigners is increasingly urgent,” Rodionova commented.


The largest delegation came from France, including guests from Paris, Lyon, Avignon, Marseille and Bordeaux. French guests expressed excitement for the residency program and the possibility of exchanging residents with Vilnius.



“I am pleased that Vilnius, which has only recently become a UNESCO City of Literature, invited representatives of the network’s literary cities and other creatively active cities to learn about our initiatives and activities,” said Simona Belune, Vice Mayor of Vilnius. “We have also become a leader in establishing sustainable relations and strengthening ties with the international literary community. This event allowed us to get acquainted with the unique experience of the city and contribute to new literary initiatives and projects. I hope this event will inspire and strengthen the importance of literature for other cities.”


During the congress, the Lithuanian Institute of Culture and the Lithuanian Writers’ Union introduced their Translation Program to foreign visitors. They also met with publishers and participated in a literary discussion organized by the Faculty of Philology at Vilnius University.


Jonathan Simons, editor of the German book and magazine publishing house Analog Sea, said the experience was a unique opportunity to become acquainted with Lithuanian literature and discover the city. He has already generated new ideas for how to present Lithuanian literature in Germany.


Congress participants visited the Lithuanian National Library, the central library of Vilnius, named after Martinas Mažvydas. Participants also met with media editors and local organizers of international literary festivals.


During the congress, poet and translator Rimas Užgiris gave a literary tour of Vilnius for foreign guests.


Although this is Vilnius’s first year hosting the unprecedented International Literary Congress, a 2023 Vilnius book fair raised funds for the damaged Chernihiv library.


RELATED: 7 foreign publishers to attend the International Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv


Translation: Ilona Babkina
Copy editing: Terra Friedman King, Aalap Trivedi (Drafted Editorial Services)