Mediterranya: A Shared Literary Space for Readers and Writers Around the Sea

Mediterranya is a new multilingual literary blog launched by several finalists for the European Institute of the Medterranean (IEMed)’s “Sea of Words” short-story award.  Author Eugenio Dacrema answered a few questions about the blog.

mediterranyaWithin Mediterranya, more tha a dozen authors, from various countries around the Mediterranean, write short stories “about common topics we establish all together. If there are common features, feelings and atmospheres it is up to the reader to find out. We just try to uncover a common Mediterranean culture by participating in it.”

There are a number of stories in Arabic — some translated — from authors who live in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and elsewhere.

ArabLit: How did Mediterranya get started?

Eugenio Dacrema: Mediterranya got started after the final session of the IEMed-sponsored literature contest “A Sea of Words” in 2013. We were all finalists and we met in Barcelona for the ceremony. In the beginning, the idea of the blog was meant to be just a means to keep in touch. But we soon understood that this idea could be far more serious.

AL: How do you see Mediterranya’s literary role?

ED: The literally role of Mediterranya is difficult to assess. We share stories written by young authors who mostly write about their realities. I think there are two possible ways to use these stories. On one hand, it is great to read the reality of people so close to us and at the same time almost unknown. On the other hand, it is even greater to see how their realities have points in common with ours. Emigration, youth unemployment, political struggle, cultural hybridism are all features we can find in different ways among the stories we share. In general, we use literature to discover our different cultures and their points in common.

Furthermore, the Mediterranean literature is a strange creature even for academics. A good friend of mine is now finishing his PhD in the US on Mediterranean literature. He will write for us a “scientific” introduction to the Mediterranean literature and will have a space on our magazine when we start publishing it.

AL: How did you choose/find the authors?

ED: The original group of authors is composed by some of the finalists of “A Sea of Words” 2013 and two from the previous edition. Katjia was the winner of the 2012 edition and one of the judges of the 2013 one. In the beginning, the blog was supposed to be “multi-author” but closed. Nevertheless, almost immediately people have started sending us their stories, especially amateur writers from Arab countries. We talked about it and decided to transform significantly the scope of our project.

We still divide between the original “team” of authors – who should guarantee a certain degree of quality since they are winners of an international contest on Mediterranean literature – but we are now open to the contribution of other writers from all the countries of the Mediterranean region. We have some filters, nevertheless. Stories cannot be “violent” or “offensive,” and they must retain a certain degree of quality. Everyone of us is in charge of reading and deciding the publications of the stories in his or her own language.

AL: How are you promoting the stories, reaching out to and involving readers?

ED: To promote the stories, we do not have many means right now. Mainly social media. I and Sondos – the Egyptian member of our team – managed to have articles about the blog published on official media outlets in our respective countries. But we have still to work a lot for reaching other publics. The visits of the blog are going very well. But we are sure they can be far better. We would like to increase significantly the number of our contributors and transform the blog in a sort of meeting point for writers from all the Mediterranean. Recently a small e-book editor have offered us the publication of a literature magazine (every 2 or 3 months) that gathers all the stories of our blog. We are now working on it in order to decide how exactly this new product should be structured.

AL: I see that a couple of the stories were translated. Was it by the author? Do you have any plans to translate/involve translators? (From Arabic into Croatian, Italian into French, etc.?)

ED: Some of the stories are part of the “A Sea of Words” contest and were translated by professional translators. We translated others ourselves. We understand the need to have both the original language version and the translation in order to ease the mutual communication. It is not easy, nevertheless. We usually first publish a story in the original language. Only later we add the translation, when we have time to make it.

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