- Let me start our conversation with a personal question: when, why and how did you leave Belarus?

- Even last year, I applied for a literary residency in Sweden in order to revive the work on my own book.

For several years I could not write poems.

After 2020, I could no longer work on prose.

There was a kind of psychological stupor.

He worked in fragments and unsystematically.

And so in April, at the invitation of the Literary House of the Nordic countries, I went to the wonderful city of Omal.

And it was there that I heard the news about the Ministry of Information suspending the activities of the Goliath publishing house, as well as our bookstore.

I literally heard from one official that I have been engaged in illegal business activities since 2016.

If in the country people are put behind bars for comments on the Internet for several years, then after such words, whether you like it or not, you will think.

Until recently, I hoped that the work of the publishing house could be resumed.

It was thought that this was some kind of technical impropriety.

Most of all, in this situation, I am embarrassed in front of the authors, whose books we did not have time to publish, and we have about 30 projects "stuck".

- Tell us a few words about your ways before you stopped in Germany.

And, by the way, why exactly there?

- After Sweden, I went to Germany, where I had a second literary residence - in Vipersdorf.

There is nothing surprising in the fact that I ended up in Germany.

For many years I have been working with the translator Martina Jakobson, who translates my works into German.

In 2014, the German publishing house Luxbooks published my novel Das Brennesselhaus.

When I arrived in Germany, the events in Belarus unexpectedly continued to unfold: the activities of two more independent publishing houses - "Knigazbor" and "Limarius" - were suspended, and the new "Bookstore" store was not allowed to operate.

Andrei Yanushkevich, the publisher of my anti-novel "If you look closely - Mars is blue", was thrown behind bars for a month.

XXVIII Minsk International Book Fair, February 18, 2021

- Are there many Belarusian artists settled in Germany now?

Have creative and friendly communities formed between them?

- I haven't been here long enough to answer this question well.

So far, I have visited only a few events, including the performance of the poet Dmitriy Strotsav, organized by the community of Belarusians in Germany "Together", as well as the presentation of the book "Anthology of Poets.

Chosen by Valgina Mort.'

Many people came to both events, including acquaintances.

I am glad to see Berlin - a city that is close to me in spirit.

Previously, for several years in a row, I came to the "Tacheles" art house to engage in painting and performance art.

From the beginning of the existence of the art house, the Belarusian gallery "Dash" was founded in it.

I worked there for a few months at a time, but that was more than 10 years ago.

He also came to Berlin as a writer on various invitations.

He performed poems near the Brandenburg Gate, lived for a month in Wannsee.

My personal Berlin has always been associated with such names as Ales Rodin, Igor Kashkurevich, Ales Taranovich, Igor Yermakov.

Since long ago, I have close friends here - both Belarusians and Germans.

- What are you doing now?

What has already been possible to do during these months?

- There are still many issues related to the publishing house, and I am somehow trying to solve them as much as possible.

Sometimes it seems that the brain is boiling with everything that is happening.

I was and remain a writer.

After I left Belarus, poems suddenly started coming to me - one, two, three.

In fact, I have already prepared a new book of poems, essays and notes - I even have a preliminary agreement with one publishing house about the publication.

There are also plans to work on a documentary-fiction book — we want to make such a unique mix.

While I'm still walking around this idea, I'm thinking about the details.

The residency in Omali, Sweden, ended with my literary performance, to which my friend, the poet Zmytser Plaks, came from Stockholm.

He translated some of my new poems into Swedish, for which I am very grateful.

Many people came to the meeting, there was a discussion about the culture of cancellation.

In Wipersdorf, in addition to literary activities, I had the opportunity to engage in painting.

In September, several of my works will be exhibited here at the festival.

It was a revelation for me that Vasyl Bykau lived in Vipersdorf for a whole year.

In the local library, I even found several of his German-language editions with autographs.

Once, during our stay in Finland, Serzhuk Minskevich and I called Mr. Vasil and asked about his affairs.

Then there was a very nice conversation...

Zmytser Vishnev, "If you look closely – Mars is blue"

- And what is happening now in Minsk with your Goliath publishing house?

Do you think you have said goodbye to him forever?

And in general, how do you assess the prospects of independent book publishing in Belarus?

- The work of the publishing house is paralyzed.

"Goliaths" did not pass re-certification.

We are prohibited not only to issue, but also to sell the issued.

The exam in Belarus for publishers is a legal lever of censorship.

In two years, an almost total cleansing of civil society took place in Belarus.

And among all this, the smooth work of independent publishing houses looked somehow strange.

As he said, "we had to wait for happiness."

It's a pity for "Goliaths", but I think that nothing depends on me anymore.

I gave a good chunk of my life to this publishing house, fifteen years, I tried to publish worthy works.

Hundreds of book titles have been published, and I am not ashamed of most of them.

Many editions became laureates of independent awards.

Today, our authors are scattered all over the world - from New York, Munich, Berlin to Lintup and Minsk.

— Is it possible, looking at the situation with many years of publishing experience, to organize the release of Belarusian books abroad?

In the same Germany, for example, or in other countries, where many Belarusian writers and publishers ended up against their will?

And is something already being done in this matter by the Belarusians in exile?

— Publishing of Belarusian-language literature abroad is already taking place.

There is a publishing house "Logvinov" in Vilnius, a publishing house "Vyasna" in Prague.

Now a publishing initiative is being created in Germany, but it is too early to talk about it, because it is just being organized.

In any case, I would like to bring the projects started in "Goliaths" to their logical conclusion.

We want the books that were already being prepared to be published.

I will try to do it through other publishers.

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