One is a CROWD – Katarzyna Fetlińska

Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them three questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist in Warsaw looks like, meet Kartarzyna Fetlińska!

Do you see yourself as an author? Are you the originator and main authority of your text? And if not, who is, if anyone at all?

In case of poetry, I don’t believe in individual authorship. I aim at composing poetry which grows out of a sense of altruism and openness to the world.

In my latest poetry volume each piece is dedicated to a particular person who has somehow changed my life. I have attempted to empathise with these people and assume their perspective, in order to create texts which would move the “chosen” individuals emotionally. At the same time, I aimed at making the poems universally understandable, since I believe that the reader, and not the writer, is the work’s main author. To me, poetry equals how the recipients feel about it, and what associations they have.

Do you like reader comments and feedback to your texts? What could be the consequences of a social editing?

Direct contact with the reader (or the listener) is something that keeps me going. For a few years I have been publishing my works solely on the internet, and to me it was more gratifying than book publishing. My poems were being read by numerous people, some of whom were discussing the pieces in commentaries. Almost always someone had a valuable editorial suggestion, which I followed gladly, while someone else made an insightful commentary which inspired other readers. Nowadays, I try to use social media for publishing fragments of prose, and I notice a curious thing: paradoxically, making the writings quasi-autobiographical encourages people to social editing. As if commenting upon someone else’s life is nowadays easier than reacting to works of fiction.

Be it on the Internet or in everyday life, reader-open approach does not always work. Nevertheless, I believe it is absolutely worth the effort, since social editing is a way to establish connections between real people, and not between people and text only. Besides, it demands a great deal of trust, empathy and mutual understanding, all of which we need in the contemporary reality.

What is your favorite literary spot in …? (literary venue, bar, meeting spot etc.) Please give us a link to the website of the spot.

My favourite literary spot in Warsaw is Staromiejski Dom Kultury (Old Town Culture House), with its medieval, tastefully redecorated basement hosting numerous art- and literature-related events, which focus on dialogue and cooperation between people representing totally different professions, interests or social backgrounds. The initiative I appreciate the most is the „Common Room“, defined as „a place in language and in space, where individual women’s voices (and all the unique experiences behind them) can meet“. In other words, this equals a seminar open to the public: everyone is invited to discuss women‘s literature, and everyone is invited to prepare their own seminars. To me, the „Common Room“ shows that literature is life itself. It taught me a lot about feminism and literary activisim.

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