“Reasons To Be Cheerful”
Every morning after the fog of sleeplessness has lifted, after the first coffee, after the apocalyptic news reports and some crazed trawling through social media, I try to find Reasons To Be Cheerful (RTBC). It’s hard. But we are all trying – and it’s working. Here we all are, alone at home but together online, creating some remarkable communities – of authors, performers, translators, bookshops, publishers, book clubs, events and festivals. We are learning new technologies and new ways of doing things. At home in Wiltshire last week, as Chair of the judges of the 2020 EBRD Literature Prize, I conducted an all-day virtual judging panel via Zoom to select the shortlist. The next day I remote-video-ed my announcement of the shortlist, with my two EBRD colleagues issuing their filming directions to me over two separate lines from Cornwall and Winchester. Everyone involved then shared the shortlist news across social media this Monday.
The EBRD Literature Prize shortlist is one great RTBC. And our Prize-giving ceremony for the finalists on 22nd April will be a powerfully positive celebration of literature in translation. The judges and I will be at home but we will gather virtually, dress up and drink something sparkling. The International Booker Prize is also taking place online. As my namesake Rosie The Riveter would say, “We can do it!” In one week I’ve mastered the art of home-filming, audio-recording, presenting and interviewing – it’s thrilling. I even baked (real) muffins and chocolate cake and organised a virtual birthday party for my husband. If I could just improve my Italian, my singing and drawing, then my personal lockdown will not have been in vain. We have books, poetry; we can write those novels and poems! There are so many free events and masterclasses online that by the time we emerge from this appalling nightmare we have the potential to be the most informed, skilled and cultivated species on the planet.
This global tragedy, this waste of lives and livelihoods, is heartbreaking. So many of our brilliant and beloved books events and festivals have been cancelled – London Book Fair, Hay, Charleston and Edinburgh etc etc. Arts Council applications have been suspended – the ACE was to be ELNet’s lifeline and saviour. We will apply for emergency ACE funding and the European Literature Network will continue, proud but poor.
There are always RTBC: a month ago we launched a funding drive to support ELNet and many of you donated, recognising that our decade-long work on behalf of literature and translation in the UK is indeed essential work. Thank you from the bottom of our European hearts. Some of you chose to remain anonymous but we can publicly thank: Bitter Lemon Press, Lydia Harris, Karen Leeder, Ian Giles, Jonathan Davidson, Ursula Phillips, Aneesa Abbas Higgins, Rain Raud and Jozef van der Voort. They’ve already contributed to paying to keep this website going. We need a lot more money and our donation drive continues – see the red DONATE button on this newsletter. You can also donate trough the website. You can transfer any sum of money, small or large, to our ELNet PayPal account. When this nightmare is over, we will CELEBRATE, not just virtually but physically, together. We’ll have a joyful, glamorous fundraising event. We will also introduce some form of subscription and/or paid membership for the European Literature Network. More immediately over the next few months we will run online events, interviews and workshops. Our next European Literature Network meeting on April 27th at the Goethe-Institut London is hereby cancelled but next month why don’t we hold an online Zoom-ELNetworking meeting? Zoom can host up to 100 people – I’ll share details soon! Exchange your news and ideas and book launches together with us online. Now THAT is a RTBC!
More RTBC? We’ve just published our monthly #Riveting Reviews and they are as brilliant as ever. This is surely the perfect time to be reading and reviewing? Please contact our editor West Camel if you’d like to join in firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for our next reviews is 27 April for publication on 30 April.
As you may know, ELNet’s West Camel and Anna Blasiak are already published authors and on 16th April Anna Blasiak and Lisa Kalloo launch Café, their magical book of poetry and photos. They will be holding an online “creative launch” – so, watch out, there are artists about! Café is already available for purchase.
Another RTBC: thanks to our partners in Timisoara and the Netherlands funding is secured for our 2020 Riveter magazines, The Romanian Riveter and The Dutch Riveter. We’ll share commissioning details for both next month.
On Monday 6th April we publish The Italianist, our monthly Italian literature and translation blog by Katherine Gregor, focusing on one of my favourite authors Gianrico Carofiglio. We’ll also be publishing French-translator Aneesa Higgins’ “lockdown blog”. Why don’t you join our ELNet Creative Community? If you would like to write something ELNet-related, or draw or photograph or film yourself talking about a book, a translation, a festival, use this opportunity. Contact us via email email@example.com and we will attempt to create many more Reasons To Be Cheerful.
I already feel more cheerful after writing this newsletter! Thank you for reading,
Love, Rosie the Riveter
“We Can Do It!”