My exchange with Voland & Quist in Berlin started on Nov. 18th 2021, and it will continue for three more months from February ‘22.
For the last decade or so I have been working as a bookseller, on various writing projects, and more recently, running a short story prize. My background is in Fine Art, but I also have an MA in Creative Writing so my experience is both creative and practical. For Brick Lane Bookshop, I created a run the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize and publish an annual anthology. Through running the competition, I developed an interest in publishing and am keen to learn enough to set up my own small press. Ideally, in the next year or two, I will publish a mixture of new fiction, essays and short story collections and run a podcast.
I decided to take part an EYE exchange because I’m self taught so feel I need to learn from another, more established publishing house to gather experience and confidence before setting out alone. I’ve visited Berlin many times and always wanted to stay longer so I’m happy to find the chance to do so. Since Brexit the opportunity to live and work in the EU for four months is rare, so this is especially exciting.
Being away from my home in London has given me perspective, head-space and a fresh way of looking at work and life. I’m used to working alone on publishing and writing projects so being part of a team here at Voland & Quist has been a luxury. It’s gratifying and useful to work alongside others and exchange ideas.
I selected Voland & Quist as my HE because their goals as a small publisher align well with my own. I also love the idea of finding ways to introduce writers and writing from the EU to the UK and back again.
It’s been interesting to get an insider’s view to how another small business functions, and to learn about the more complex aspects I’m not experienced in, like rights, contracts and publicity schedules. I hope that through working here, I can form connections with other publishers and writers, and might become part of the helpful online small publishing community. I also hope to use the time and experience here as a platform to launch my own small press.
My arrival was smooth, I took my first flight for three years (part choice/part pandemic) which was a little wavy but fine. It was good to see the clouds from above again. I’m staying with a friend in Wedding who I’ve stayed with before, so it was easy to find the apartment. The Voland & Quist office is a forty minutes commute and a short walk from an U-Bahn station. The people here in the office are welcoming and luckily for me are kind enough to speak in English as my German is not at a conversational level yet.
On my first day, my HE gave me a copy of Madgermanes, a graphic novel they’ve published by Birgit Weyhe and I read it in an evening. It tells the interlocking stories of three immigrants from Mozambique who came to work in Berlin before the wall fell and though it charts many injustices, it is also funny, sad and very touching.