Poetry deserves attention

Interview with Patrick Peeters, the Grants Manager Poetry, Drama & Nonfiction of Flanders Literature

What is the main goal of Flanders Literature?
Our main goal is to promote Flemish literature abroad. We are trying to encourage publishers to publish more translations of quality Flemish literature. To do so we are supporting Flemish publishers, authors and illustrators, helping them build an international career. We are also trying to bring their work closer to international audiences, all genres included: fiction and non-fiction, poetry and drama, children’s and youth literature and graphic novels. We visit international book fairs and literature festivals and organize our own publishers tours. We support the publication of translations and literary tours abroad by means of translation and travel grants, that can be applied for by foreign publishers and festival organisers.

During the successful presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair you worked together with Dutch Foundation for Literature. Do you cooperate on regular basis?
We cooperated before and will surely continue to do so in the future. In the years to come Dutch-speaking authors will regularly be guests at important German festivals. Our motto ‘This is what we share’, that we used for Frankfurt Book Fair 2016 will live on also this year, our stand will surely be smaller but still shared. What was so special about being Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair was that both foundations worked towards the same goal and on even budgets. In the future that won’t always bet he case: Dutch Foundation for Literature has bigger budget and often different goals than we do. Which of course does not mean that we won’t appear together abroad any more, to the contrary. In 2018 we are both focusing on our presence on the French market, in 2020 we would like to move to the English-speaking countries; especially the UK. In November this year Dutch Foundation for Literature together with Flanders Literature organize publishers tour for foreign publishers of non-fiction.

Do you have any special priorities?
Sure we do, but that does not mean that we focus on the specific genres. Right now we are working on a plan, focused on different countries and languages; possibly also together with the Dutch Foundation. At Flanders Literature we also do our best to reach the less reachable landscapes. We started with China and Latin America, in the future we want to move to Arabic speaking countries. 

How is poetry positioned inside Flanders Literature?
Poetry deserves as much attention as any other genre. One full-time grant manager spends half of his working hours exclusively on promoting Flemish poetry abroad. He is also an editor for Poetry International Web and Lyrikline.org, perfect places for reaching wider audience. Our new webpage www.flandersliterature.be, should also become a perfect tool for foreign publishers on search for new releases. We regularly present poetry at big fairs and festivals but also visit smaller poetry festivals. As a preparation for Frankfurt 2016 we, together with Dutch Foundation for Literature, organised our first publishers tour for foreign poetry publishers and the results were amazing: almost each of them published or will publish at least one translation of a poetry book. 
In cooperation with the Kunststiftung Nord-Rhein Westfalen and with Dutch Foundation for Literature we are preparing a poetry-exchange programme, which will be documented and issued in a yearly magazine – through this we are trying to strengthen the ties between Germany, The Netherlands and Flanders.