There have been better periods in which to share a love of all things European. One would have to have dwelt in a hermitage of late to avoid the wave of often negative stories related to the continent. Yet we can be confident that this isn’t the entire picture. Europe is too large and diverse for all its stories to fit into a fistful of headlines. With that in mind, we’re delighted to be part of a positive story involving our European partners.
No less than sixteen literary festivals and venues based across Europe – including the Scottish Poetry Library – have joined together to form Literary Europe Live, a new Creative Europe supported platform. Participants come from as far afield as the Berlin Poetry festival, the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival and the Oslo International Poetry Festival. Literary Europe Live has been established to encourage the programming of events that reflect the contemporary European literary landscape. Literary Europe Live isn’t solely about encouraging writers from one country to read in another, however. Literary Europe Live will support new authors as well as develop appetites for literary translations.
The first year of the project will see over 30 events organised in members’ countries featuring more than 300 writers, translators and literary curators. Literary Europe Live will be making the case for the strength of the continent’s writing at events to be held in India and China. Closer to home, the Croatian poet Aleksandar Hut Kono will perform at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.
One of Literary Europe Live’s first projects is New Voices from Europe, which highlights the work of ten of the most interesting new voices working in Europe. The list includes poets, novelists, translators and non-fiction writers from ten European countries: Catalonia, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Macedonia, Malta, Norway, Slovenia, Turkey – and Scotland. Next autumn the SPL will host one of the New Voices poets for a week of activities at the library.
Poet and translator Juana Adcock represents Scotland. Born in Mexico and resident in Glasgow, Adcock is a friend of the Library; last year she worked with visiting Slovakian poets on translations that were performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She wrote a piece about the experience for the Poetry Reader that began ‘For someone like myself, to spend a weekend tucked away in a room in Edinburgh translating poetry from a language I don't understand is an extremely appealing venture’ – that’s the spirit!
Adcock represents much of what is interesting about Scotland’s contemporary writing community: it draws strength from a diverse selection of voices unafraid to experiment. Her links with Mexico have introduced voices to Scotland it would not easily have heard of without Adcock.
Over the next twelve months, New Voices from Europe will be promoted across the European Union and beyond in a series of live and digital events. An anthology featuring the ten chosen writers will also be published. With Literary Europe Live’s help, the SPL will be at the forefront of bringing new European poetry to new audiences. That’s a good news story whichever language you read it in.