The Edinburgh International Book Festival and Gutter Magazine have newly launched The Freedom Papers, a 164 page supplement available alongside the August issue of Gutter, featuring specially commissioned writing from 51 authors from around the world each exploring their own unique interpretation of Freedom.
Henry Bell from Gutter spoke with The Fountain about the collaborative project whilst also suggesting how first-time goers should approach the Book Festival.
TF: After the success of Gutter recently since moving away from Freight, you are working in conjunction with the EIBF to produce the Freedom Papers, 52 short essays, what can we expect from that?
We’re really delighted to have been able to work with EIBF to produce The Freedom Papers. It’s a thrilling collection of essays from poets, novelists, essayists, journalists and artists from every corner for the earth, all exploring what freedom means. How freedom can be an idea that liberates people and how it can be used to control us. The essays explore race, personal expression, sexuality, ability, age, alternatives to capitalism, the ocean, and much more; looking at the borders of Fortress Europe and unfreedom from Edinburgh to Saudi Arabia. It’s been really exciting to collaborate on the collection with EIBF and we’re really grateful that they asked us, it feels like a big vote of confidence in our decision to strike our as an independent cooperative, and we’re excited to share Issue 18 and the Freedom papers with everyone.
TF: Why 52 and what compelled you to be involved in almost a Scottish PEN capacity like so?
There are 52 essays because that’s as many as we could squeeze in the book! There was just so much great writing and so many different perspectives and we wanted to get across as much as we could. I don’t think we’re involved in a PEN-like capacity, but as editors and publishers who are excited about new writing. Funny you should mention Scottish PEN though, as we are really delighted to have a selection of poetry from their Many Voices project featured in the magazine too, with new work from different groups ranging from women on the northern isles, to young men in the justice system.
TF: And what are you personally excited yourself about seeing at the book festival this year?
I am really excited about Carmen Maria Machado, her incredible fable-like stories around gender and power are something else. So I am looking forward to hearing her read. And the Last Poets too, that’s going to be great. And obviously the Freedom Finale.
TF: Have you any tips yourself on who you would recommend visitors go see at the festival for those that have never been?
My advice is go see things that you haven’t heard of! Discover stuff. I had never heard of Translation Duels before, it’s where two translators get to grips with the same text and the audience gets to explore their different takes. And I think the How to be Both event where Claire Duffy and Julia Taudevin (two amazing theatre makers) will present a new interpretation of Ali Smith’s novel is going to be really exciting. Stuff like that where new live things happen are what I would recommend.
TF: And what are Gutter’s plans post festival, what can we expect from you in the near future?
2019 marks ten years of Gutter Magazine and we’re planning to launch some big new projects. I can’t tell you more than that. But keep your ears to the ground for Gutter news.