Poets, writers and literary critics from Kazakhstan and Russia met in Moscow on Nov. 26 for the first time in 25 years to talk about common problems and to seek ways to make modern literature better known in both countries.
The event, held at the initiative of the Kazakh Embassy in Russia and the Literaturnaya Gazeta newspaper, brought together intelligentsia from both countries to discuss trends in modern literature, the restoration of traditional creative connections and prospects for literary development.
In his opening speech, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Russia Marat Tazhin recalled President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev’s words at the second Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in 2006: “The desire of one cultural tradition to impose its values on other cultures will never lead to an understanding, it will only lead to the opposite reaction. Rigid cultural expansion faces stiff resistance, and only respect for the historical traditions of other nations, justice and sincerity in relations between civilisations, religions and people are able to create a world of agreement and spirituality.”
According to Tazhin, the keyword to the meeting was dialogue.
“The role of literary criticism has changed over various periods, and this is not a secret for those true masters present here. It is difficult to fight for a solution to global problems, but a discussion of the problems of literary criticism could end with some pragmatic conclusions,” he said.
According to Tazhin, an important topic for dialogue is the problem of translating from Kazakh into Russian and from Russian into Kazakh. “The time of brilliant interpreters is slowly ending. And we should really think about small, practical steps rather than global projects,” he said.
As one of the first practical steps, Tazhin proposed publishing a Kazakh-Russian literary almanac, which would lay the foundation for not only literature, but cultural dialogue, too. He also proposed that the Literaturnaya Gazeta publish a professional review of modern Kazakh literature two or three times a year.
Yury Polyakov, editor-in-chief of the Literaturnaya Gazeta, reacted to the proposal positively. According to Polyakov, the event was historical and had been awaited by literary circles for a quarter-century.
Famous Kazakh poet and writer Olzhas Suleimenov supported his Russian counterpart, saying that, indeed, the most prominent loss of the last quarter-century was the loss of literature.
“The idea of this meeting has been nurtured for a long time. With all our heart and soul, we accept this first meeting, which I am sure will not be the last,” Suleimenov said.
Participants mostly discussed long-standing problems facing both communities. Most importantly, they spoke in one common language, accessible to all: the language of literature. They spoke of the importance of the event in promoting Kazakh literature and enhancing the perception of original Kazakh literature in the Eurasian and global cultural space.
From Kazakhstan, Suleimenov, Nurlan Orazalin, Anatoly Kim, Bakhytzhan Kanapyanov and Rollan Seisenbayev attended the event. From Russia came well-known writers and literary critics such as Yury Polyakov, Nikolai Anastasyev, Lev Anninsky, Yuri Kozlov and Vladimir Artemov.
The gathering included the roundtable discussions “Literary and artistic process in Eurasia in the 21st century” and “Eurasian literary space: steps forward.”