Ivan Taryanov

Chairman of the Board, Writers’ Union of the Republic of Mari El

At the 9th Congress of Mari Writers, held in 1993 in Yoshkar Ola, development of Mari literature for the last five years was evaluated.

Advance was noted in education of young talents. This activity includes series of seminars Sylnymut shyzhe (“The Literary Autumn”) carried out since 1974. More than 30 beginning authors participated at this seminar in 1994. Discussion and analysis of their work – novels, stories and verses – were conducted by genre sections under the guidance of experienced writers. As usually, best manuscripts were recommended for publication to the Mari Book Publishing House and literary magazines. Many well-known writers of the republic participated at these seminars in different years. In the last two years, six writers were accepted to the Writers’ Union of Russia. At the moment, there are thirty-six professional writers in the Union.

Despite economic difficulties, the government of the republic rendered us support to change the literary and political magazine Onchyko (issued since 1926) into a monthly, starting from January 1994. The size of the magazine U sem (“New Way”) has also been increased. This magazine, established by the Writers’ Union in 1990, is published in the language of mountain Maris. During the two last years, more than 70 books of fiction were issue by the Mari Book Publishing House.

The Union regards as its primary tasks fostering of successful development of national literature, raising its prestige among Maris and continuing creative co-operation with people of literature of other, first of all Finno-Ugrian, nations.

In the spring of 1993, our delegation visited Helsinki and an agreement on co-operation between the writers’ unions of Finland and Mari El was signed. The agreement provides, in particular, development of practical co-operation in such areas like mutual translation and publication. The Writers’ Union, together with the society “Mari El – Suomi”, supported the visit to our republic of Hana Helin, a Finnish poet. During a month he acquainted with culture and life of Maris in different parts of the country. In 1994, our poet Albertina Ivanova visited Finland.

The magazine U sem has a regular section “The Art of Finno-Ugrian Peoples”. In this section, selected runes from Kalevala, the Karelian-Finnish epos, were published in 1994 in translation into the language of mountain Maris by a poet Gennadi Matyukovsky. His complete translation into the Mari language of this masterpiece of classical literature was handed over to the Mari Book Publishing House, to be printed as a book. Unfortunately, this edition has been delayed because of financial circumstances.

The magazine Onchyko published a selection of verses by Jarkko Laine, a well-known Finnish poet, and a selection of classical Finnish poetry.

A book titled A Little Hero, containing a collection of fairy tales of Finno-Ugrian peoples, was issued by the Mari Book Publishing House in twenty thousand copies. Earlier, an anthology of prose and poetry by Finno-Ugrian authors, translated into Mari, was published under the title We All are Brothers. This book will be issued as well in translation into the language of mountain Maris.

In the fourth issue of 1994, U sem published a brief overview of the work of A. H. Tammsaare, a classic of Estonian literature, and a selection of his short stories. New publications by Finno-Ugrian writers are at the stage of preparation.

In August 1993, a delegation of the Mari Writers’ Union participated at the 3rd International Congress of Finno-Ugrian Writers held in Eger, Hungary.

In 1995, the Writers’ Union marked the centenary of one of the classical authors of Mari literature, our first novelist Nikon Ignatyev, and the 60-year anniversary of the date of birth of Valentin Kolumb, a remarkable poet who passed away in 1974 in the age of thirty-nine.

In 1993, our prominent poet I. I. Osmin won the State Award of Mari El in Literature. A young poet Valentina Izilyanova became the winner of the Olyk Ipai State Youth Award of 1994.