International Romani Writers Association IRWA
Veijo Baltzar began active networking in order to establish a joint organization, uniting international Romani writers, in the end of 1990s. The idea to establish the International Romani Writers Association had been maturing among Roma intellectuals for several years. A significant stage occurred in November 2001 when the “Cologne Declaration” on the establishment of the International Romani Writers Association was signed during a seminar of Roma poets, writers and journalists organized by Deutsche Welle.
The Finnish Roma author Veijo Baltzar organised the founding meeting in Karjaa, Finland in July 2002. Roma writers from twelve European countries, as well as numerous international artists, Finnish politicians, activists and cultural persons came together for inauguration meeting. Veijo Baltzar was elected as IRWA’s president for its first chairmanship period 2002-2005. Nobel prize winner Gunther Grass became an honorary member of IRWA.
As long as there have been Roma, there has been a strong oral tradition. Their way of living and travelling has supported the emergence of songs, poems and story-telling. Today, there are Roma authors in numerous countries. While many write creatively, the barriers to enter mainstream publishing are high.
International Romani Writers Association is an independent, international, non-profit, idealistic association. Its goals have been strengthening the position of Roma literature, language, and culture throughout the world, acting as a link between Roma writers and promoting the works of Roma writers in various languages following their publication, as well as monitoring Roma writers' copyrights, engaging in information and publishing activities.
In July 2004 IRWA organized an international Ars Baltica Romani Writer congress in Tammisaari, Finland. In congress participated IRWA’s members as well as international artists, journalists and activists. In the congress, Romani writers pondered the questions of literature as a political tool and voice of its people, the sitatuation and status of Romani authors in different European countries as well as the role of literature as interpreter of Romani culture.
Drom Association has been involved in establishing International Romani Writers Association and closely collaborated with IRWA.