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Building a Better World With Words #5: Lviv

Lviv City of Literature
Tue 23 Jun, 2020

Building A Better World With Words is a blog series asking how international Cities of Literature are coping with the Covid-19 crisis. This week, we speak to Lviv City of Literature in Ukraine.

The lockdown started so fast that it caught us by surprise. Still, we realised the importance of literature and information that we were bringing to our audience, so there was basically no way that we could stop in our tracks.

Like most institutions, we immediately moved online. Spending more time out of the office, Lviv – UNESCO City of Literature had a chance to get some extra inspiration and create new content. That was how our weekly digest “Party for Introvert” appeared, having a great success among our social media followers. We posted several digests with brand-new materials, and also, digging up archives, reminded our audience about our past projects.

The lockdown, as we saw, is a time to understand what is truly important and interesting for you. So, right now, we are working on what really interests our fellow citizens and foreign partners.

We never stopped working--not even for a day. Luckily, we started a handful of projects before the pandemic broke out, so in due time we just moved them online. In particular, this happened to one of our key projects of 2020, “Young City Readings.” It consists of three parts: poetry, comics, and book critics. It was not that hard to continue working on this project, as it was in its initial stage of online collaboration and activities anyway, but still, driven by the new obstacles, we expanded “Young City Readings” to an international project, building a partnership with the Nottingham City of Literature. At the same time, unfortunately, another large-scale project of ours--international translation residency LitTransformer--had to be postponed because of the pandemic. We do hope to restart working on it soon, though.

On top of it all, we have to host Lviv - UNESCO City of Literature Award in a new way. Together with the Lviv City Council, we are now announcing a new call to all Ukrainian publishers and authors. But this time, submissions will be accepted only in the electronic version, and the jury, instead of usual meet-ups in our cozy office, will see each other and evaluate books during Zoom meetings.

The literary life in Lviv hasn’t stopped. The lockdown turned out to be a huge motivation for Publishers Forum NGO. They implemented “LitCourier: Reading out Loud”, a project that engaged dozens of famous writers. The audience got a chance to enjoy free online readings right from their couches. The main goal of readings was to encourage people to stay at home just by pressing “go live” on Facebook. A total of 27 participants took part in the readings held from March 21 till May 12 as live streams on BookForum’s Facebook page. The authors whole-heartedly supported the idea behind the project and were more than eager to be part of it.

The lockdown is creating its own rules, and we have to adapt quickly. Our city and us, Lviv - UNESCO City of Literature Office, are doing our best to continue working and creating as we did before the pandemic, staying safe and true to ourselves in this complicated time.

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