Last year, Pro Helvetia expanded its support for literary creation to texts in all languages. Since then, authors writing in languages other than Switzerland’s national languages can also apply for a literary creation grant.
In this video, three authors share what this new opportunity means to them, while Reina Gehrig, Head of Literature at Pro Helvetia, explains why the Swiss Arts Council chose to expand eligibility:
About the authors:
Dragica Rajčić Holzner grew up in Croatia. After graduating from high school, she travelled to Australia before moving to Switzerland in the late 1970s, where she worked a series of cleaning, ironing and housekeeping jobs. In the 1980s, Rajčić Holzner returned to Croatia and began working as a journalist and founded the journal Glas Kaštela. When the Balkans war broke out, she returned to Switzerland with her three children and began actively advocating for peace. Her earliest writings, in her mother tongue, date back to the early 1970s, but it was not until after her first stay in Switzerland that Rajčić Holzner started writing in German, producing poetry, short prose pieces and plays. You can find a list of her works here.
Hasan Sever was born in Turkey. In 1995, the political climate in Turkey forced him to abandon his economics degree at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) in Ankara and flee the country. Sever continued his studies at Zurich University. In Switzerland, he was a contributor to and editor of the journal Öteki İsviçre (Die andere Schweiz – DaCH). From 2010 to 2016, Sever ran and wrote daily for e-hayalet.net, a website focused on politics, the arts and culture. You can find a list of his works here.
Michelle Bailat-Jones was born in Japan and grew up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. She has lived mostly outside the US since 1999, studying and working in France and again on Kyushu, in Japan. In 2005, she moved to Switzerland. She speaks French and Japanese and is working very hard to add Italian to the mix. Ideas and questions around culture, language, migration, and geography inspire both her writing and passion for translation. You can find a list of her works here.
More on Swiss literary creation:
« Expanding the eligibility for a creation grant reflects today’s social reality in Switzerland and also comes in response to requests from the literary scene itself. New voices represent an enrichment of a country’s literary tapestry. Other languages bring with them different motives, styles and narrative traditions. Taking this into account in our promotion policy is consistent with our philosophy and is in fact overdue. »
[Reina Gehrig, Head of Literature at the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia]