I’m as guilty as the rest of you, using hashtags and acronyms to describe the weird world we inhabit – which almost defies words. All this new vocabulary, these new emotions, lives lived virtually. But however much time we spend online this IS real life, here and now, and we’ve been living it for a whole year. Incredible. A year ago I had no idea what Zoom was. WhatsApp was simply a family message board. I watched Netflix rarely. I used social media as an occasional and useful tool. Now they – and all the other communication media – are lifelines. Without them we wouldn’t be able to network, hold events, festivals, launch books, keep up with films (and discuss them endlessly), share all the photos we’ve been taking during lockdown or stay in touch with friends and family (hi Mum!).
Our last IRL-European Literature Network meeting was over a year ago, my last non-SD-IRL-packed-maskfree-audience event was at the Victoria and Albert Museum on March 9th2020 interviewing Bernardine Evaristo.
I’m incredibly proud of how much ELNet has achieved this past year, in spite of the pandemic and a dire lack of funds: two Riveter magazines, French Book Week, the Romania Rocks Festival and the UK-Swiss Publishing Fair. In this year I myself have chaired over 50 events and run several workshops – online. But how I long to step onto a REAL non-Zoom platform again (in red lipstick, red dress, red shoes) and see hundreds of smiling faces gathered together to celebrate great authors and great writing. Meanwhile, WFH and alone in our rooms, we beam in and out of each other’s lives and long for the big Lockdown Lift (LL?) and meeting up IRL.
But until then we will do our best to keep you entertained. This month we launch The Dutch Riveter at 19:00, March 17th in collaboration with the British Library and New Dutch Writing – and we’re pushing the boat out with live music and live drawing to accompany the readings and discussion. The event is free but you must register. I’ll dress up if you will! You’ll be able to access copies of the magazine on that day – thanks to our brilliant distribution partner https://www.newsstand.co.uk – free print copies for the cost of only £2.00 p&p. ELNet has also signed up to the independent online bookshop hub https://uk.bookshop.org so that you from now on you can purchase the books featured in our events and #RivetingReviews pages, as well as our Riveter magazines. By the time we launch The Italian Riveter in October 2021 we hope we can celebrate with you IRL but these great tech tools of the book trade are I hope here to stay.
On Monday March 22nd we are launching a major month-long Crowdfunding campaigncalled #ELNetConnects to raise money to support our work and the people running it. Thank you very much, as always, to you kind folk who are already supporting us through PayPal. We know that many of you are in the same situation but we also believe that ELNet should continue to exist and that we should not continue to work for free. In this whole – very productive, creative – year we’ve received no grants or emergency funding. So, be prepared to be blasted with images of Rosie The Riveter waving her fist at you and asking for donations. (She means well!)
Before I sign off, a gentle reminder that you can enjoy all the films, blogs, reviews and Riveter magazines from the past year for free on this website. There’s also our monthly Poetry Travels, The Italianist and February’s #RivetingReviews. We are dedicating our March reviews to The Dutch Riveter but please contact Editor West Camel with any books you’d like to review after March, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My sincerest thanks to my European Literature Network team West Camel, Anna Blasiak, Max Easterman and our two amazing interns Rosie Eyre and Alice Banks. They get the first hugs from me when we all meet again #IRL (after my Mum!).
Love, Rosie the Riveter