Malopolska is a space situated in the very heart of Europe, on the border of the West and the East. It is the place where the tensions of the complicated history of that region converged, but also where a unique multicultural mosaic of languages, traditions and religions was created, which has been an inexhaustible source of literary inspiration until today. It is also home to the unusual literature that draws upon the characteristic diversity and sensitivity of multicultural regions.
The Heart of the Region is Krakow – the spiritual and literary capital of Poland, the European Capital of Culture in 2000, a city aspiring for the title of the UNESCO City of Literature. Krakow is a city with a strong spiritual impact and functions in common awareness as the main centre of Polish literature, an important centre of European literature, a city of culture with great potential and abundant resources of talents and creative energy. After all, in its history encompassing several centuries, Krakow has been an important academic and intellectual centre of Europe, the capital of the kingdom of Poland, the cradle of language and literature and the city of the first scriptoria, libraries and printing houses. It was the place where masterpieces of literature were created, where outstanding men of letters arrived and where the most important artistic and literary trends of particular epochs intermingled. For the purpose of emphasising its permanent heritage and contribution to the achievements of world culture and civilisation, Krakow was honoured with the title of the European City of Culture in 2000; at that time, it became a place of meetings of Eastern and Western poets organised by two Noble prize winners living in Krakow: Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska.
Until today, Krakow has been inhabited by a record number of poets, translators of literature and publishers on an European scale and the city itself is a unique centre of poetry writing, translation and publishing on an international scale. It is also a place of creation of young poetry and literature, important experiments, a continuous clash of the avant garde and tradition and a permanent creative conflict of generations. Krakow is home to the most important book fairs held annually in Poland and a number of important literary festivals, two of which: Miłosz Festival and Conrad Festival enjoy the status of the most important literary events in Poland. Several dozen literary institutions and associations operate here, among them the most important national institution responsible for the promotion of Polish literature across the world – Instytut Książki (the Book Institute). Apart from this, Krakow is a city where prestigious literary competitions are held and honourable prizes are awarded and where literature meets film, the theatre, music, plastic arts and the extremely active theatrical life.
Reading Malopolska is a project envisaged for the years 2007-2013 and supported with the funds of the Malopolska Regional Operational Programme, under which Malopolska and its capital Krakow want to communicate their literary heritage and participate in the building of a network of co-operation of creative regions in the field of literature.
Within the framework of the Reading Malopolska programme, a series of promotional activities has been planned, aimed at emphasising the literary potential of the region. In October 2012 and in May 2013, international conferences will be held with the participation of outstanding panelists representing the most vital cultural centres and institutions of literary life worldwide, including UNESCO Cities of Literature, ICORN and PEN International.