New Territories for Literature in Contemporary Brazil

Ellen Heyward


Ellen Heyward is a multilingual professional with diverse experience in international cultural cooperation, including designing and delivering projects, analysing and developing public policies, creating multilingual communication strategies, and coordinating international events. Educated in Melbourne, Beijing and Paris, she has worked with UNESCO, federal and state-level government cultural agencies, private arts foundations, cultural NGOs and arts festivals in France, Mozambique and Brazil. For the past ten years, she has maintained a particular professional and academic focus on the international dimension of the Brazilian cultural sector; most recently, she coordinated the Cultural Program for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A dual Australian/British citizen, Ellen is currently based in Rio de Janeiro.


doi: 10.18278/aia.2.2.8


FLIP and FLUP are two annual literary festivals that take place in the state of Rio de Janeiro. FLIP, the Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty (International Literary Festival of Paraty), was established in 2003 by Liv Calder, co-founder of Bloomsbury Publishing. FLUP, the Festa Literária da Periferia (Peripheries’ Literary Festival) was created in 2012 by Brazilian writers Julio Ludemir and Ecio Salles. These two events exemplify and challenge high and low constructions in Brazil, which also incorporate the dichotomies of centre and periphery, and inclusion and exclusion.

FLIP, Brazil’s first ever literary festival, began with a traditional model based on other successful international programmes. For 5 days each July, readers flocked to the historic sea-side town of Paraty to commune with like-minded others and listen to their favorite authors speak. While events are free, the festival’s ability to feature famous authors such as Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Don DeLillo, has made it an expensive endeavor for visitors to afford transportation, meals, and accommodation.

FLUP arguably presents a more innovative model: an itinerant festival that migrates each year to a different favela, a slum. FLUP aims to develop new readers and writers in marginalized territories and communities by connecting them in ever-expanding cultural networks.

 

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Where FLIP is geographically established and cyclical, FLUP is by nature mobile and exponential. FLUP engages a territory in a year-long, bottom-up creative process before conducting tailored writers’ and readers’ workshops over a series of months. These workshops culminate in a week-long showcase each November, to which international writers are invited.  The community consultation and co-creation process is key to developing ongoing relationships with residents and integrating a variety of genres and tools in the festival’s programming.

The importance of harnessing the narrative power of new media cannot be underestimated for the future of literature in Brazil. Readers and writers in this country are challenged by the cost of publishing, as printed books are priced as luxury items. A study released by Brazil’s Instituto Pró-Livro (2015) estimates that while 30 percent of the country’s 207 million people have never bought a book, 44 percent do not read. Arguably, this second statistic ignores the concurrent fact that cellphones in Brazil number over 240 million (Teleco 2017). This creative instrument provides access to content and the power to produce it in the hands of so many.

FLUP has created an innovative model able to be adapted and implemented in other countries. With our increasingly metropolitan-focused, socially divided world, this model could offer a powerful inclusive force.

 

References

(2015). Retratos de Literatura (Reading Profiles Study).

(2017). Teleco: Inteligência em Telecomunicações (Teleco: Intelligence in Telecommunications).

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