Subdivisions of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union
The subdivisions of the LWU have been set up in order to write, publish and disseminate literature, to defend freedom of expression and the rights of authors, provide an outlet for conversation and recreation, and render assistance when necessary.
The Publishing House of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union was established in 1990. It publishes, on average, sixty books per year. In collaboration with all generations of Lithuanian poetry and prose writers, it publishes the most various styles of literature, and carefully follows the releases of foreign books. The variety of books is supplemented by self-help and advice books. Audio books and ebooks are also successfully published.
The Publishing House of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union pays strict attention to quality, to book design and printing. It works with the very best book designers, and the resultant works are highly evaluated in numerous book design contests, appearing as well in exhibitions. Many of the books published by the LWU earned their authors the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts.
One of the most important works of the publishing house is the book series, Treasure House of Lithuanian Literature: The 20th Century. Since 2005, the series has released 42 selections of work by Lithuanian writers. It came to an end during the 100th anniversary of Lithuanian independence (2018) with the publication of the selected works of Justinas Marcinkevičius: Amžiaus pabaiga [End of the Era].
Significant attention is paid to younger writers. The publisher has been organizing a First Book contest since 1994. A committee of established writers reads and evaluates all manuscripts, and the winning manuscripts in both prose and poetry categories are then published.
The publishing house also organizes book launches, events and exhibitions, participates in book fairs in Lithuania and abroad, actively promotes reading, and seeks to find ways to pleasantly surprise the public. It also runs its own bookstore and website: www.rsleidykla.lt, and boasts a growing circle of followers on social media. One can purchase books released by the Publishing House of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union in all Lithuanian bookstores and internet portals that specialize in selling books.
The Writers’ Club implements diverse literary projects related to preserving historical memory and the meaning of the Lithuanian literary tradition, the spread of Lithuanian exile literature, the popularization of the works of young writers, the presentation of the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts winners to readers, and the support of contemporary Lithuanian literature and its authors. In cooperation with profesional artists in different fields, other social organizations, district and city governments, cultural and educational departments, publishing houses, children’s homes, libraries, schools, museums, universities, academies, cultural centers, and embassies, the Writers’ Club organizes various events. It focuses on soirées devoted to individual authors and young artists, on poetry and music events, readings, discussions, anniversary celebrations for writers, concerts, exhibitions, and other events that attract great attention not only in the Writers’ Club hall but also throughout Lithuania. The Writers’ Club organizes the international poetry festival Poezijos pavasaris (Poetry Spring), which is the largest and most significant literary festival in Lithuania, with events now in other countries as well.
The writers’ retreat, Plunksna (Quill), located in Nida on Urbas Hill, attracts not only Lithuanian and foreign writers. Here, you will also meet composers, artists, and photographers. Seeing the Baltic Sea from your window as well as the Curonian lagoon, a pine forest and sand dunes will put you in the right frame of mind for creative work and rest. The unique beauty of the Curonian Spit unfolds as you gaze from this retreat’s café – the only one at such an elevation in Nida. People usually vacation here in summer, often with their families. During the summer months, this home can accommodate seventy people at one time. Its unique architectural design provides rooms with the needed seclusion so that a writer is guaranteed peace and quiet. Since 2010, the maintenance of this retreat and the needs of guests have been the responsibility of the firm UAB Chajamas. All the buildings here are the property of the LWU.
The writers’ retreat, Diemedis (Wormwood), in Palanga, was long in need of investment for renovation and reconstruction. In 2000, LWU decided to sponsor an open contest to find renters who, for the right to use the facilities, would renew and care for the retreat, leasing it for a price agreed upon by the LWU. There are still discounts for writers, so not a few writers have since gone to visit – every year there is significant turnover.
That same desire to renew and improve the neglected conditions of the premises on Didžioji St. 27 in Vilnius determined that the lease agreement with UAB Knygų namai LT, which since 2000 had been renting out the premises to the Versmė bookstore, was discontinued in 2022. The premises were leased out to new renters who committed to renovating not only the premises on the 1st floor (which they already did) but also the cellars. The renter pledged to offer 20 percent discounts to all LWU members at the restaurant operating within the premises as well as the restaurants Sparkling Ocean and Bembel Food and Wine.
All rented buildings are still owned by the LWU.
The Literary Foundation of the LWU, founded by the LWU board, supports members of the LWU from the funds generated by LWU enterprises. This foundation has its own board and chairman. It provides support for literary events, the publication of books, and the care of memorials. Since November 2022, the Foundation also collects funds donated to Ukrainian soldiers and writers, which are used to purchase and transport aid and vehicles for Ukraine.
The LWU Kaunas Branch includes fifty-one writer, and the Klaipeda Branch, twenty (figures as of March 2023). The branches have their own statutes and chairmen. They organize meetings and traditional events.
The library of the LWU (containing over 53,000 books and numerous cultural periodicals) is frequently visited by writers and members of their families.
The LWU, together with other artists’ unions, founded the Lithuanian Copyright Protection Association (LATGA) and the Press, Radio, and Television Support Fund. It initiated the establishment of the LAA – Lithuanian Association of Artists (the statutes of this association were registered on 2 May 1995) and has its own representatives in it. It participates in the drafting of laws and other documents relating to its plans. In 2021, the LAA began to organize its annual award festival, during which the most outstanding artists of their fields are bestowed awards by the respective artistic associations. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the LWU, the Lithuanian Writers’ Union Century Award was founded. By the LWU board’s decision, its first laureate was Vytautas Martinkus; in 2022, the award was given to Vytautė Žilinskaitė.
Each year since 1992, on January 6, also known as Three Kings’ Day, the Lithuanian Writers’ Union appoints an award for a significant literary work published within the last two years. The laureate for this award is picked by their colleagues – laureates of the five preceding years.
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The LWU building complex is also headquarters to different organizations: The Lithuanian PEN Center and the Lithuanian Association of Artists.