Център за еврейско-българско сътрудничество

Creative challenges, poetry and keeping the memories lessons on the second day of the International Youth Literary Festival “Friendship – Meaning and Salvation”

Festival energy has been strong on the second day of the International Youth Literary Festival “Friendship – Meaning and Salvation” held in Burgas, Bulgaria, keeping the spirits of the young writers, participating in the International Literary Student Competition organized by “Alef” Center high. All their meetings with members of the literary elite were as remarkable and fruitful as expected.

The first meeting was with the writer Maria Kassimova-Moisset. Thirty young writers, 10th the International Literary Student Competition „Whoever saves one human life, saves the whole universe“ award nominees, attended the workshop led by Mrs  Kassimova-Moisset. She introduced them to her creative process in an enjoyable way, then shared some family memories and challenged her workshop attendees to use some of the literary techniques she has mentioned to write a story from a picture.  

Mrs Elzbieta Grab with the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland, made a very interesting presentation. She challenged her audience to create stories based on specific signs and symbols.  Mrs Grab talked about the museum’s activities and explained that their mission is not only to keep the memory of the Holocaust victims alive, but also to include objects related to the life stories of the Holocaust survivors into the museum’s exhibit. Part of the overall presentation of the museum’s activities was the screening of the documentary “We and the Jews – find the difference” where Polish Jewish teenagers talked about their everyday life, their interests and ordinary habits, as well as the times when they felt discriminated because of their Jewish origins.  The discussion that followed was quite spirited which was perfectly understandable. Mrs Grab gave her new friends handmade Polish accessories as parting gifts. 

The historian from the Regional Historical Museum – Kyustendil, research scientist with the Institute for Historical Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, author of many monographs, historical documentary collections and articles, Associate professor Phd Angel Djonev’s  book “A Minimum of  Humanity“ presentation  increased the thirst for new knowledge in student writers.

The book is dedicated to the 80th anniversary of The Kyustendil Action to Save the Bulgarian Jews.

In his lecture, Asoss. Prof Djonev admitted that besides Dimitar Peshev who led the action to save the Bulgarian Jews from deportation, consideration should be given to his associates, the so called Kyustendil Four  –  Vladimir Kurtev,  Asen Suichmezov,  Ivan Momchilov and the MP Petar Mihalev. He also shared some interesting and unknown facts about the action to save the Bulgarian Jews and answered the many questions form the audience that never seemed to end.

The workshop led by the English writer and translator Christopher Buxton was in tune with the festival dynamics. True to himself, as always, first Mr Buxton sang the Bob Dylan song “With God On Our Side“ to the young writers and then he challenged them to discuss the connotations of the word  “normal” . Mr Buxton said: “In Bulgaria when people say “unnormal” in most cases, they mean crazy. But everybody who is not normal is just extraordinary”. Then he showed the workshop attendees how to create a work of fiction on the basis of contrasts and opposites.

A side meeting was held with the master of words, the beloved poet and playwright Nedyalko Yordanov. He read some of his poems, he has written when he was at the age for falling in love.  Mr Yordanov talked to his audience sincerely about the excitement of his youthful age.  Then he taught the young writers how to tackle the two key aspects of poetry – rhythm and meter. Two girls from the audience summoned the courage to read their own poems to the great poet.

The screening of the movie “An Officer and a Spy” directed by Roman Polanski, a true classic about Alfred Dreyfus, was the closing act of the second day of the festival.

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