The Writer in Residence program is a familiar solution used the world over to help cultivate and maintain relationships among people active in contemporary literature. Invitations are extended to authors to take advantage of residencies which permit them to focus on their creative work for periods ranging from one or two weeks to a year.
The Pécs Writers’ Program, which is located in the city of Pécs in southwestern Hungary, was launched in 2007. It is hosted in an apartment made available by a private citizen, and over the course of the years more than 200 writers have been guests of the program, including several authors who have risen to international prominence, like Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Nathan Filer, Antonio Fian, and Grendel Lajos.
One of the essential features of the Writer in Residence programs in Hungary is that they give the authors who spend time here a chance to familiarize themselves with the towns and cities in which they live and work, make friends and acquaintances, build ties with other authors and people in the publishing world, and develop an attachment to the country and its culture. On some level, they become “cultural ambassadors” who take knowledge of Hungary and of Hungary’s literature and culture back to their homelands and with them in their travels the world over. The relationships they develop with other authors during their time in Hungary become part of a larger international network.
And naturally, the time they spend in Hungary also sometimes leaves its mark on their creative works. The resident writers often write diaries or blogs about their experiences in Hungary and their impressions of the land and its culture, and sometimes Hungarian sites and characters also figure in their works. Not surprisingly, the relationships that these writers develop with people in Hungary further the publication of their works and help them cultivate readerships here.
One of the Fund’s relatively short-term goals is to develop an interconnected national writers’ residency program in some of the larger cities in Hungary lying beyond the capital.