‘ROMANIA ROCKED’! As we drew the first ever Romania-UK literature festival to a close, we reflected on what we had experienced in 4 weeks, from mid-October to mid-November 2020. We feel extremely privileged and grateful to the Romanian and British writers, poets, translators, publishers, illustrators and musicians who shared their time and their words with us. Festival Director and Acting Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute London Magda Stroe, Artistic Director Rosie Goldsmith and Creative Producer Gabriela Mocan (Rosie and Gabriela also co-curated the Festival) filled our days with 92 voices in 30 events, giving us gems of conversations, readings, performances and discussions about all that the great Romanian literature scene has to offer us, married with some star appearances from top British authors. We filmed every single event, thanks to the indefatigable Mihai Andrei of London Video Stories. All the videos are available free on YouTube on the ELNet and RCI websites – and we’d like to share those films with you today.
The launch event for the Festival took place earlier on 29th September on International Translation Day at the Romanian Cultural Institute in London. We had a live audience and music from Michael Cretu, showcasing the brand new Romanian Riveter magazine featuring interviews, reviews and excerpts of works by Romanian authors as well as literary commentators and publishing professionals. At the event we heard contributions from Tudor Creţu (Guest Editor of the Romanian Riveter), Daniela Raţiu, Alexandru Potcoavȃ, Magda Cȃrneci, Vesna Goldsworthy, George Szirtes, Ioana Pȃrvulescu, Susan Curtis, Matéi Vişniec, Fiona Sampson and Ana Blandiana, as well as Gabriela Mocan (Guest Editor of the Romanian Riveter).
Our headline ‘Rock Talks’ conversations hosted by Rosie Goldsmith, starting with Andrei Codrescu and David Mitchell on 19th October, paired up some of the biggest names from the UK and Romania, bringing together writers, poets, translators, public figures, novelists, essayists, playwrights, and literary figures to give us an insight into the backgrounds, lives and opinions in up-close interviews. If you missed any of these events – Elif Shafak, Norman Manea, Ben Okri and so on – you can read the series of blogs from our very own festival blogger, Andreea Scridon, or watch the films of the events.
As well as Romanian writers from Romania, we also met Romanian and Moldovan authors who have made the UK their home and inspiration for many years – Ioana Baetica Morpurgo, Stela Brînzeanu, Vica Demici, Cristina Mureșan, Simona Nastac, Andreea Scridon and Anda Vahnovan. They gathered on Zoom to discuss and read from their works.
Translation took centre stage in a very special discussion hosted by Gabriela Mocan in conversation with some of the best translators who have given Romanian writers a global voice – Jozefina Komporaly, Diana Manole, Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Gabi Reigh, Andreea Scridon, Adam Sorkin, Lidia Vianu and Duncan Large (of University of East Anglia and Director of the BCLT in Norwich).
Publishing Romanian literature was featured in a discussion hosted by ‘Publishers without Borders’ – a Facebook group set up to unite publishers around the world – and brought together Romanian publishers as well as British publishers of Romanian writing in translation – with Susan Curtis (Istros Books), Cheryl Robson (Aurora Metro), Denisa Comanescu (Humanitas), Ramona Mitrica (Profusion), Alexandra Rusu (Nemira) and Magda Stroe (Romanian Cultural Institute in London). Chaired by me, Emma, with Rosie.
Workshops for children filled the weekends, including ‘Stories to Remember – Creating Unique Characters’ – a brilliant illustration workshop with the one and only Axel Scheffler (of Gruffalo fame), and we discovered the ‘Language of the Romanian Blouse’ with Ioana Corduneanu, introduced by Gabriela Mocan.
Our festival finale was of course a rock concert. Everyone joined in (virtually!) with a special ‘Rock Concert on the Roof’ performed by the lead singer of Publika and his guests The Alpacas. The festival was introduced and officially wrapped by Festival Director Magda Stroe.
‘Romania Rocks’ was beamed into our homes during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, brightening our days, evenings and weekends. We celebrated so much of what Romanian literature has to offer us and we are delighted to be able to capture and share everything with you all in the Romanian Riveter and in our recorded events. We hope to see you all in 2021 to rock again, Romanian style.
by Emma House (Festival Press and PR)
You might find the following links to the festival helpful: festival programme, festival PR, festival bookshops: The European Bookshop (for books in English) and Cărți Românești (for books in Romanian).