Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November 24th, 2021

Editor’s Note: Emma Morris, the author of this post, is a digital copywriter from Johannesburg, South Africa. She is also a self-proclaimed logophile and loves Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. Emma spends her days writing engaging marketing copy for brands and her evenings immersed in literature and literature blogs. 

On Nov. 5, cultures and creators came together in Amsterdam and online to celebrate the publication of an anthology of essays, letters and poems which resonate with Virginia Woolf’s essay On Being Ill.

There was a diverse range of speakers at the hybrid event organized by the Perdu Literary Foundation. Both in-person and on Zoom, they spoke to the complexity of the theme. Speakers included Elte Rauch, Marielle O’Neill, Nadia de Vries, Lucia Osborne-Crowley, Deryn Rees-Jones, Sophie Collins and Mieke van Zonneveld, as well as superb live music from Ekster.

Pandemic allows identification

The timing of the publication date could not be more perfect. As the world limps out of isolation, we can most certainly identify with Woolf’s essay on illness itself and the resulting isolation, loneliness and vulnerability that comes with it.

The anthology examines the way illness and literature are dialectically connected to each other, and how the process from conceptualization to the publication of the anthology mirrors the stages of illness.

Connecting as writers

Elte Rauch from HetMoet

As Elte stated in her opening address at the launch, the people involved in this anthology didn’t know each other, but each of them was able to connect at varying points in the process.

This idea that connection can never be lost is pivotal, she said, explaining that while writing is a solitary action, publishing is done together. It is the time when writers, illustrators and musicians all come together.

In an evening that celebrates the relevancy of Virginia Woolf, and especially her “revolutionary act of empowerment,” as Marielle O’Neill stated in her essay, that by openly embracing such a taboo subject as mental health – especially at a time in our history when illness itself is a taboo subject, the anthology as well as the original essay by Woolf will resonate with post-lockdown readers.

When everyday moments become special

As Marielle stated in her essay, small everyday moments, like Mrs. Dalloway buying flowers, become special moments. For example, coffee with a friend becomes a special occasion.

Writer Nadia de Vries with Marielle O’Neill from the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain

This anthology shows us, as readers, how beautiful it can be to write about a subject that is, in all honesty, not beautiful.

As Woolf so describes in her essay, when adults are ill, it inevitably makes us feel like children again. Illness is not beautiful. It’s messy, it’s raw and it leaves us vulnerable. In some ways, being ill mirrors the act of writing and creating itself.

How often do we as artists, writers and musicians share some of the most secret parts of our souls when we put pen to paper or paint to canvas?

Literature and anthologies bring us together

As I close this blog piece, I will leave you with something that was repeated during the evening, and certainly echoes in the anthology itself. Just as literature succeeds in bringing people together, this anthology brought writers, creators, scholars, and musicians together for an evening. It even brought you and I together for an evening.

It helped us put aside the loneliness of lockdown, illness and a global pandemic and allowed us to just enjoy each other’s company and inner most thoughts and feelings.

When we talk about illness, we lay bare how naturally afraid of illness and the finality of death we are – almost on a primitive level. But one thing is certain, when we do discuss our vulnerabilities and share our fears, magic is created.

How to get it

The anthology is available now in Holland in English and Dutch editions, with a UK book launch planned for January 2022. For more information contact Elte Rauch at info@uitgeverijhetmoet.nl.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: