Frankfurt dawned amidst the winds. Town winds or that “wind that began to sway the grass” that Emily Dickinson observed from her window. Literary winds, full of words and stories that came whistling through the trees to the Frankfurt Buchmesse.
The main event on 21 October took place between speeches and quotations, and then, under the illuminated roof of what looked like a four-horse racecourse, we listened to the brilliant conversation between Laura Barrachina and the writers Karmele Jaio, Rosa Montero, Elvira Lindo, and Najat el Hachmi. In all the interventions one could breathe that “greeting to the living and the dead since the living and the dead make up a country” that Lorca said when inaugurating the Fuentevaqueros Library, and literature knows that we are the past and we build the future together.
Upon our arrival at the Spanish pavilion, the winds were still blowing among writers, publishers, cultural managers, and other personalities. But this time, among the long shelves full of books brought to Frankfurt, a polyglot wind could be heard: Rosalía de Castro’s “corre o vento, o río pasa”, Raimon’s “cor al vent” or Lauaxeta’s “cuatro vientos”. These polyglot winds warned us that linguistic heritage, as well as being fundamental to a country’s identity, is the driving force behind avant-garde, different kinds of literature that reach other, previously unknown places, giving us readers a new map, somewhat more expanded, of that “I don’t know what is left stammering”.
After lunch (which was mixed with laughter and the lucidity of my companions telling anecdotes and reflections) we went to the Instituto Cervantes in Frankfurt which is, between residential buildings and fallen leaves on the pavement, a common house where the verses of Antonio Gamoneda on the wall greet Matute, Laforet or Zambrano caressing cats. In this shelter of letters, there was a tree in the garden full of folios lit up like fireflies. Without verbalising it, we all saw in that tree the flowering of literature, the luminous effort to persist united to the trunk and roots of a landscape that illuminates stories, novels, or poems that are born and perish to be the substratum of that same tree, the infinite place of birds and life.
The Frankfurt Buchmesse 2021 was overflowing with creativity, emotion, homage, and, most importantly, the “thirst for horizons” of which Concha Méndez spoke. The winds, once experienced, are always unstoppable.
Mario Obrero, winner of the XXXIII LOEWE Award for Young Creation and guest author at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2021.