Liberature: A presentation by Katarzyna Bazarnik and Zenon Fajfer


Liberature: A presentation by Katarzyna Bazarnik and Zenon Fajfer


October 3rd, 2011, 5:00pm


Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection & Columbia College Center for Book and Paper


LIBERATURA Series by Ha!art  Publishing House

“Liberatura” is a unique editorial project devised and run by Katarzyna Bazarnik and Zenon Fajfer since 2003 under the auspices of Korporacja Ha!art Publishing House in Krakow, Poland. It is based on a precept that some literary works constitute an organic unity of words and the space of writing intentionally shaped by their authors. Hence, the titles published in the series embrace works in which the text and the book form an indissoluble whole, and each of their constituents contributes to its meaning. The series includes most interesting examples of Polish and foreign works, ranging from little known, contemporary authors to established writers. Each of its volumes is different, each has its own unique shape, and each goes beyond the stereotype of the ordinary volume, which makes the series stand out among other publishing lines.

The project arouses more and more interest of readers and critics, some of which describe it as “the most astonishing publishing series in Poland.” “Liberatura” books have won distinctions at book fairs, featured at Polish literary festivals, and even been suggested for inclusion in the new literary school canon.


Vol. 1. Katarzyna Bazarnik, Zenon Fajfer. (O)patrzenie, 2003.Print-run: 2000. This book accompanied issue 15 of Ha!art, an Interdisciplinary Magazine on Literature and Culture, devoted to the creative and theoretical work of Katarzyna Bazarnik and Zenon Fajfer. It opened “Liberatura” series, providing also a display of the emanational form, devised by Fajfer, in which the text folds into a single word. The booksellers refused to sell this intentionally “wounded” booklet as they deemed it “faulty.”

Vol. 2. Zenon Fajfer Spoglądając przez ozonową dziurę (Detect Ozone Whole Nearby), 2004. This poem hidden in a bottle is one of the radical examples of how liberature redefines the notion of the book. It questions and subverts editorial conventions, and offers a new literary form, so-called emanational text which adds a new, hidden dimension to the heretofore linear or two-dimensional literary spaces. First published in 2004 in a Polish and English edition of 200 and 100 copies respectively, it appeared in the revised, second edition in 2009 after Polonistyka, a journal for literature and language teachers, recommended it as one of the set texts for the new school canon.

Vol. 3. Rzut kośćmi nigdy nie zniesie przypadku. Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard, 2005.Print-run: 1000. Stéphane Mallarmé, trans. Tomasz Różycki, introduction: Michał Paweł Markowski. The poem revolutionized 20th c. poetry through its radical approach to language. This bilingual edition carefully reproduces the layout planned by the poet, and includes both versions, the one published in Cosmopolis in 1898 and its 1914 book edition.

Vol. 4. Stanisław Czycz, ARW,2007,ed. Dorota Niedziałkowska, Dariusz Pachocki, introduction: Andrzej Wajda. Print-run: 1500. An unrealized and unfinished film script which turned into a polyphonic, simultaneous poem, prepared for Andrzej Wajda by one of the most original poets and writers, reconstructed from dispersed manuscripts by textual scholars from the Catholic University in Lublin.

Vol. 5. Bryan Stanley Johnson Nieszczęśni, (The Unfortunates), 2008, trans. Katarzyna Bazarnik, distinguished at Wrocław Good Books Fair 2008. Print-run: 1000. A novel-in-the-box by one of the most interesting British writers of the 60’s, a record of the chaotic working of memory and the mind.

 Vol. 6. Raymond Queneau Sto tysięcy miliardów wierszy (One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems), trans. Jan Gondowicz, 2008. Print-run: 1500. A poem-making machine based on ten sonnets, devised by the founder of Oulipo, i.e. the “Workshop of Potential Literature.” It would take one  200 million years to read all the possible versions of the poem included in this book.

Vol. 7. Georges Perec Życie instrukcja obsługi (Life a User’s Manual), 2009, trans. Wawrzyniec Brzozowski. Print-run: 3000. This second, corrected Polish edition of Perec’s monumental novel is the only translation that carefully preserves the original 700-pages-size, determined by the author as one of his many constraints which form a “scaffolding” for his stories.

Vol. 8. Katarzyna Bazarnik, Zenon Fajfer Okaleczenie & (O)patrzenie (Mute-I-Late  & Ga(u)ze), 2009. Print-run: 1001. A set of two books that initiated the liberature movement, authored by the inventor of the term Zenon Fajferand his wife and collaborator Katarzyna Bazarnik. The triple-codex Okaleczenie owns its unconventional shape to two different narratives connected by an invisible thread running through the hidden spaces of the texts. Both books contain visible text and the invisible, emanational texts, a special form devised by Fajfer to render liminal experiences: the inaccessible stream of consciousness of a dying man, and an invisible world of the unborn baby.

Vol. 9. Perec instrukcja obsługi (Perec a User’s Manual) ed. Conic Chessmaster,2010. Print-run: 1000. A book of performative criticism: a liberatic introduction to the work of Georges Perec, including brief texts paying homage to his lipogramatic novels La Disparition and Les Revenentes, and essays on his literary oeuvre.

Vol. 10-11. Zenon Fajfer dwadzieścia jeden liter/ten letters, 2010. Print-run: 1500. A bilingual poetry volume by the founder of liberature movement, exploring the tensions between the visible and the invisible, the material and the virtual. Paradoxically, the printed book, which features uncut and folded pages, offers its readers interaction while the film-poem on the DVD disc, which is the final part of the volume, invites them to contemplation.

Vol. 12. Zenon Fajfer Liberatura czyli literatura totalna. Teksty zebrane z lat 1999-2009 / Liberature Or Total Literature. Collected Essays 1999-2009, 2010. Print-run: 1500. A bilingual edition of essays and articles by the founder of liberature movement, edited and translated by his collaborator Katarzyna Bazarnik, prefaced by prof. Wojciech Kalaga, who defines liberature as a hybrid transgenre, claiming that it constitutes “the crowning” of the tendency to combine the visuality and the semantics of language, resulting in a  reading experience “unknown to the reception of conventional literature.” It also contains an analysis of Fajfer’s poetic volume ten letters by Łukasz Jeżyk, an overview of liberature’s development  by Agnieszka Przybyszewska, and a bibliography covering publications on liberature since 1999.

Vol. 13. Paweł Dunajko [             ], 2010. Print-run: 300. This untitled book is a prose poem written on 34 cards placed in a slipcase with cut-out windows in which a movable title may appear, depending on how the reader shuffles the cards. In the words of the author, “it aims to silence the voice and let the writing speak.”

Vol. 14. Krzysztof Bartnicki Prospekt emisyjny (Prospectus), 2010. Print-run: 616. A highly ironic, subversive novel, set in a parallel world, in which the course of history took a different turn, it imitates closely the format of the business prospectus offered to investors, and tells a story of Komandor who has offered himself for sale as a modern corporate slave.

Vol. 15. Herta Müller Strażnik bierze swój grzebień/Der Wächter nimmt seinen Kamm, 2010, trans. Artur Kożuch. Print-run: 2000. A book-in-the-box containing little-known collage poems by the Nobel-prize winner of 2010.The small format and the loose form of the volume correspond with the content of the poems, which originated as postcards sent to friends from half-willing exile. It is the first translation of her poems into any foreign language.

Vol. 16. Raymond Federman Podwójna wygrana jak nic (Double or Nothing), trans. Jerzy Kutnik, 2010. Print-run: 1500. The debut novel of one of the leading American postmodernists piles up four streams of discourse to tell (or hide) a story of a Holocaust survivor arriving in America. The translation reproduces the authorial typewritten typography of the novel’s first edition.


Table Of Contents

OTHER BOOKS from LIBERATURE READING ROOM COLLECTION in Małopolski Culture Institute, Kraków


Visual Editions books:

1. Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinons of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-67), London: Visual Editions, 2010.

2. Jonathan Safran Foer Tree of Codes, London: Visual Editions, 2010, RA 2.753 

3. Marc Saporta Composition No.1, London: Visual Editions,2011.

Visual Editions is a London-based book publisher, which can be called younger sister of “Liberature” series. Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen, who founded and run the press say: “We think that books should be as visually interesting as the stories they tell; with the visual feeding into and adding to the storytelling as much as the words on the page. We call it visual writing. And our strap line is Great looking stories.”


4.Bryan Stanley Johnson The Unfortunates, London: Picador,1999. The second edition of this novel-in-the-box by one of the most interesting British writers of the 60’s, a record of the chaotic working of memory and the mind, told in 27 loose sections. All of the writer’s books display similar integrity of the text, its layout and material form.

5. Raymond Federman Double or Nothing, 1971. The debut novel of one of the leading American postmodernists piles up four streams of discourse to tell (or hide) a story of a Holocaust survivor arriving in America. The first edition was reproduced from the sheets typewritten by the author, each having its own unique design in “the lovely geometry of personal assertion” (Marcus Klein).

6. Raymond Federman The Voice in the Closet. La Voix dans le Cabinet de Debarras. Madison, WI.: Coda Press, 1979. This bilingual French-English edition is an attempt to give voice to a traumatic experience of a little Jewish boy. Also includes Maurice Roche’s Echos à Raymond Federman.

7. Ronald Sukenick Out. Chicago: the Swallow Press, 1973. Another of American postmodernists exploring the potential of the codex form in a tour de force of language and book space. The journey begins in New York, and while characters move on across the continent “the blank space expands until, at the edge of the ocean, the language disappears into blank space.”

8. Jen Bervin Nets. Brooklyn, NY, Ugly Duckling Presse, 2004. “I stripped Shakespeare’s sonnets bare to the “nets” to make the space of the poems open, porous, possible—a divergent elsewhere. When we write poems, the history of poetry is with us, pre-inscribed in the white of the page; when we read or write poems, we do it with or against this palimpsest.” 102.11

9. Tom Philips A Humument. A Treated Victorian Novel, 2nd revised edition. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997. The author discovers a new story among the pages of a creatively reworked Victorian three decker, A Human Document by W.H. Mallock. 1700.9

10. Radosław Nowakowski, Ulica Sienkiewicza w Kielcach. Kielce: Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych, 2003. Published in 500 copies, the book is a model of the main street in Kielce, where an Australian of Polish descent takes a walk after having got off the train in an unknown city by mistake. The readers are invited to take the stroll with him. In May 2005 the book won the 2nd Prize at the International Book Arts Fair Competition in Seoul, South Korea.

11. Radosław Nowakowski Hasa Rapasa, a description of an impossible performance. A triangular trilingual book (in English, Polish and Esperanto), devised, written, illustrated, printed and bound by the author, who along with Fajfer and Bazarnik is a key founder of liberature movement.

12. Andrzej Bednarczyk Świątynia Kamienia. The Temple of Stone, trans. Barbara Kutryba. Kraków: Związek Literatów Polskich, 1995. Print run: 400. Bound in concrete cover, this volume inspired by the beauty of the Tatra Mountains features lyrical poems and hard stone placed in their centre.

13. Robert Szczerbowski Æ. Warszawa: Pusty Obłok, 1996. Devised as “the last printed book” and considered the first Polish hypertext, this is a kind of apersonal, self-generating text, which exists in two modes: the printed and the electronic one. The third edition was published on-line the at “Techsty,” the portal on literature and the new media, ergodic literature, hypertext theory and games:

14. Mark Z. Danielewski House of Leaves, 2nd edition. New York: Pantheon Books, 2000. Enthusiastically received by reviewers, described as “a thriller and an excursion into the subconscious,” this novel is simultaneously a “House of fiction” and a “liberatic edifice,” exploring the typographic mazes inscribed in the codex form.

15. James Joyce Finnegans Wake, 1939. NY,  London, Ringwood, Toronto: Penguin, 1976. The universe of oneiric language encapsulated in the “wheel with no spokes which is all square.” The book which has been consistently published in the same 628-page layout  for over seventy years.

16. James Joyce Anna Livia Plurabelle, trans. Maciej Słomczyński, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1985. Chapter 8 of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake published in an unusual form inspired by the translator and inventively designed by Małgorzata Macharska-Siwulak. Its shape, layout and the visual side are used as shorthand for the major themes of Joyce’s oneiric novel.




Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection & Columbia College Center for Book and Paper, “Liberature: A presentation by Katarzyna Bazarnik and Zenon Fajfer
,” SAIC Flaxman Library & Special Collection Exhibitions, accessed August 17, 2019,