Although the situation to which the pandemic has brought us has meant that we have had to give up many things, it is true that a world of new possibilities opened up to us. After these months, we have all become aware of how complicated it can be to adapt to an unknown reality, but we have also realised something essential; change does not have to be the end, but can be transformation.
This is why at BooksAndRoses we are convinced that we cannot stop celebrating the exchange of books and roses, which has become a worldwide phenomenon in previous years. Neither all the limitations nor all the uncertainty can destroy the essence of a day as relevant as 23 April. After all, such celebration has been and will continue to be crucial for the development and promotion of culture, reading and, definitively, creativity.
The possibilities are endless. Proof of it is our past experience. With the pandemic catching us all by surprise last year, many of the organising volunteers knew how to adapt, even with the time constraints. Do you want to know how?
New York and Paris opted for online festivals. The former reinvented their annual festival and turned it into three consecutive days of literature in virtual translation. The latter, under the hashtag #ConfinésMaisLivres and with the desire to celebrate Sant Jordi together, managed to unite the virtual and common exterior with total security in what ended up being an online festival of micro-stories, poetry tweets and children’s drawings.
Many others found encouragement in popular competitions. From poster designs in Toulouse to literary competitions in Quito, Guayaquil, Yucatán, Luxembourg and Stuttgart. There were even photography competitions, such as the one organised by the Ramon Llull Institute, and drawing competitions in Italy and Portugal.
Another option were also the virtual seminar cycles or conferences. The online dimension allowed presentations of Catalan literature, language and works organised in places such as Yucatán, Zagreb or Luxembourg, where limitations were not a barrier to invite introspection and promote the culture of reading which is crucial in times of isolation.
In the case of Luxembourg, there was also a poetry recital was held. This initiative was similar to the austrian one, which produced a joint programme of artists from Catalonia and Austria, located on the frontier between literature, music, performance and theatre.
There are also those who opted for raffles. In Zagreb, the conference included a raffle of the Catalan pieces presented, and in Costa Rica, sending a Sant Jordi drawing included participants in the prize draw for a tablet.
We even saw bookshops offering deals, as in the case of Bartleby & Co in Berlin or the Cercle culturel catalan du Québec. Or how books were even given as gifts, as happened in Sao Paolo with the biography of Ramon Llull.
In addition, several online debates and open conferences were organised. These were the cases of Quito, with the presence of the singer-songwriter and poet Joan Isaac from Catalonia, Massachussets, in collaboration with the renowned academic and literary translator Peter Bush, and Quèbec.
And let’s not forget the little ones. In Luxembourg they didn’t that’s why they organised an origami activity from home.
The initiatives go on and on. From gastronomic proposals to commemorative videos and presentations to writers. Many entities also shared content with literary recommendations and diverse works (Benelux, Fiesole, Paraná and Hamburg).
The variety was immense and expectations are high. What do you think of it all?