businessman, public figure
President of the Festival
Several years ago I was a successful Bukovynian entrepreneur involved in providing ‘climate control’: this is the generic, business term for air conditioners, exhaust pipes and other equipment that regulates indoor temperature. As a result of the global economic crisis, I lost all my clients and nearly went bankrupt. The tortuous hours spent free of work and the pursuit of money allowed me to think seriously about my own life. I began to realize I was a man who had grown up with no sense of place or history. I had never thought about where I was born and live: this town called Chernivtsi. My grandparents are buried here, my son was born here, I am tied to Chernivtsi through the knots of birth and death. But what did I know about it?
I never used to care much for poetry. But when I found out that Chernivtsi has been writing poetry in a multitude of languages for two hundred years I began to look anew at the books and writers it has produced, both past and present. Maybe it was my blood calling: my great-grandfather was a writer from Odessa, a historian of Odessan synagogues. My grandfather was a journalist in Chernivtsi at the “Soviet Bukovyna” newspaper. My uncle started writing poetry in Chernivtsi and remains a Chernivtsi poet forever, no matter where he is living: in London, Munich or Prague. Suddenly I felt as if was seeing my home town for the first time: as a living architecture of words and texts. I made a decision: to make my city speak through poems again – no matter in what language. Maybe this sounds overly romantic, but I hope the absurdity of my story, that of a yuppie victim of the economic crisis who has suddenly discovered the meaning of poetry, will humanize the romanticism. I am happy to be once again engaged in providing “climate”, though now of a completely different kind, one not directly related to the construction business. It is the climate of poetry, the climate of language, it is the interior of Chernivtsi, a climate that made and still makes my town one of the cultural capitals of Europe.