Following on from Corinne’s post about the Bologna Book Fair, I recently asked poet Jorge Luján if he would share some of his impressions with us, since I knew that his most recent book, Barca de papel, illustrated by Julia Fries was to be featured in one of the exhibitions – I should have guessed that he would have a charming adventure to tell us about, that makes me wish I’d been there!
I found the Fair very rich as always – maybe a bit calmer than other years because of the economic crisis, but anyhow with interesting new books like the award-winning Robinson Crusoe, published by Media Vaca [BolognaRagazzi Fiction Award] and El contador de cuentos, published by Ekaré [BolognaRagazzi New Horizons Award]. The strong, colorful presence of Korea was also notable as the invited country. I very much enjoyed Yanni Kim’s images for The Donkey Girl (a winner of the CJ Award for Illustration).
Talking about my personal experience, I had an unexpected and magical encounter at one art gallery down town Bologna. I was at the inauguration of an illustration exhibition when a sparkling five-year-old girl appeared out of nothing and asked me: “Tu sei… il poeta?” (Are you… the poet?) I said “Hum… yes” with a smile and began to walk out with a young couple who had just invited me to have an ice-cream with them. Immediately, the little girl (who I was soon to discover was the daughter of the young couple) started to run through the crowded rooms of the exhibition shouting over and over again: “Il poeta viene a mangiare gelati con noi!!” (The poet is coming to have an ice cream with us!!)
Later on, she confessed to me: “Io sono la Principessa dei Gelati,” (I’m the Princess of Ice Cream…). That night I composed a poem for her, and the next evening I was invited to write it in big letters next to the illustrations of Barco de papel, my last album with images by the young artist Julia Friese, which were being shown at the beautiful Sala Borsa, next to the Piazza Maggiore.
If you click on the thumbnails, you’ll be able to read the writing, including both poems on the much larger images…
Thank you so much, Jorge, both for sharing your experiences with us – especially this delightful story of La Principessa – and for the wonderful photos. For those of us who couldn’t be there, they certainly are the next best thing. Imagine being at that exhibition and walking by as the author of the books you are looking at happens to be writing out a poem he has just spontaneously composed!
Barco de papel (Paper Boat) was published last December by FCE and is due to come out soon in German as Papierschiff ahoi! We’ll certainly let you know of any English translations.
I must just also add that not one but two of Jorge’s recent books were shortlisted for a CJ Award for New Publications: Colors! ¡Colores! (also selected for the White Ravens 2009 Catalogue) and Winter Afternoon (and if you haven’t watched the animated version of this gorgeous book, watch it NOW!).