One of my best memories of the Blue Metropolis Festival is back when I worked as a book reviewer, and had to sell magazines during the entire festival. I had a little stand right in front of the Spanish bookstore, and every day, I would put my stuff on the table and wait for people to come and talk. I hardly sold any copies of the magazine, because I spent most of my days talking with this Spanish librarian about literature and guacamole. And the funny thing is, although I wasn’t always able to express myself clearly in his language, and neither could he tell me many details about his stories in my own language, we were both able to understand each other. I think that’s what the Blue Metropolis Festival really is about – it’s about dialogue and communication between us as human beings.
For its eleventh year, the Blue Metropolis Festival welcomed writers in whatever language they speak, and offered a complete programme in three languages – French, English and Spanish. It’s a risky adventure, but it’s been working for years, and it still does. Blue Met invites more than 350 writers from the four courners of the world to the Delta Centre-Ville Hotel, and lets them discuss their views on literature, while sharing thoughts with their readers and giving them smart advices on the publishing world.
The theme for this year’s festival was “words that matter”. These “words that matter” are the ones we say to fight ignorance and incomprehension, looking for freedom of speech and understanding. There were discussions on themes such as childhood and the rise of digital media, as well as an account of today’s Canadian literature and cultural identity.
Among the list of lectures and conferences for the eleventh edition, I noticed a particular event with Reza, Iranian exile and one of today’s most important photojournalists covering major conflicts all over the world, under the theme “Writers in Peril”, as well as an event called “Around the World in Six Translations,” with translations of texts written by some major local writers and international authors, coming from Mexico, Middle East, Morocco, Turkey and Ethiopia. One of the interesting highlights for this year’s edition was the focus on Arabic literature, with a tribute to Azar Nafisi (she is the internationally acclaimed author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books) and the creation of the Al Majidi Ibn Dhaher Arab Literary Prize.
Blue Metropolis Festival at Delta Centre-Ville Hotel, 11th edition, April 22-26, bluemetropolis.org.