– All of those who have come to Sweden are not just manpower for Volvo's factories. They are people who think and have a story to tell, the writer and poet José Romero states decisively.
We meet up with him and Anni-Frid Frisk, project manager for the book fair, at the cultural centre Blå Stället in Angered. To draw attention to the literature and poetry of Sweden's suburban areas is central to the Angered Book Fair, that was a huge success when it premiered in 2018. Around 3000 visitors came to take part in the programme with over 70 exhibitors during a few intense hours.
– There was a huge interest from various groups. It's a need not only among people in Angered, or in the suburbs, to get close to the writers and meet them face to face, José says with great enthusiasm. Perhaps not mainly to buy their books, but to give them a hug and have a few words.
"We want to promote those who live here and create a venue outside of the city centre"
They do not want to compete with the large Book Fair in Gothenburg, but rather act as a complement. A smaller, more relaxed, context and a place to highlight the writers and poets who are not seen or heard as much elsewhere.
– There are so many writers, and so many who are interested in poetry and writing in the suburbs. We want to promote those who live here and also create a venue outside of the city centre, Anni-Frid explains.
The initiators José Romero and Yarko Rhea Salazar both saw the need for such a venue, and in late 2017 they took their idea about a book fair to Blå Stället. José hade been a driving force in starting the festival Hammarkullekarnevalen 40 years back and had seen how dancing could be a unifying force among people. Now it was time for the written word to do the same.
– There was a great interest from the cultural centre and we got a lot of support. Anni-Frid and I then started to contact different groups, interesting speakers, organisations like Kultur i väst, libraries and culture workers. Everyone was very well disposed towards the event, José says.
About six months later, in September 2018, the book fair became a reality.
– We basically had no resources at all when we started out, but we thought this idea was so good and important that we wanted to give it a go. And we managed, with quite limited funds and a great deal of volunteering from José and the others in the network Blå Stället's Friends, to pull it off, Anni-Frid says.
This year, the interest in participating has been even greater, and over a hundred contributors can be found in the programme which is to be released at the end of August. To expand has not been a clearly stated goal among the organisers, it happened organically because so many wanted to be a part of the book fair.
In total, there will be seven different stages at the fair offering something for everyone – discussions, poetry and seminars for children, youths and adults. When asked for a highlight, Anni-Frid and José both start talking eagerly about an idea that originated in conversations with young people in Angered. A seminar at the youth stage which will discuss poetry movements in Sweden.
"We believe we make Literary Gothenburg more complete"
– For instance we will have Saman Sokhanran and Bipasha Huq from Förenade förorter, two of the organisers behind the poetry event Ortens bästa poet. They will talk about how poetry can be a tool, what platforms like Ortens bästa poet can mean to young people and what the future looks like for the poetry scene in Sweden.
To build bridges between the various literary organisations around Gothenburg, and throughout the country, is also an important purpose with the fair.
– Hopefully, the fair can create opportunities for those who participate here, that they can find ways into the large book fair in Gothenburg, the event Scener & Samtal, or other literary contexts. In that way, we believe we make Literary Gothenburg more complete, Anni-Frid concludes.
The Angered Book Fair takes place at the Kulturhuset Blå Stället, Angereds Torg 13, on September 21, 12–6 pm. How to get there: tram 4, 8 or 9 to Angered C.
The initiative to the Angered Book Fair comes from local writers and is being produced by Kulturhuset Blå Stället, Folkets Hus Hammarkullen, Blå Ställets Vänner and the libraries in Angered with support from Angereds Närsjukhus, Kulturrådet, Kultur i Väst and ABF Göteborg. The youth scene is arranged in cooperation with Save the Children. The programme in Studion is arranged in cooperation with Folkhögskolan i Angered. The event is politically independent and all who support equal rights for all are welcome to participate. The programme is part of The City of Gothenburg's 400th anniversary celebration and the focus year Knowledge and Enlightenment.