9 March 2017

It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.

(Albert Einstein)

Two years ago I decided to commission literature to respond to urgent political topics. To find meaning in our illogical world.

Peirene Now! No 1, breach, by Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes, about the Calais refugee crisis was published last year to critical acclaim.

Peirene Now! No 2, The Cut by Anthony Cartwright, is nearly ready to go to the proofreader and typesetter.

It is a Brexit love story.

When I commissioned Anthony six months ago to respond with a piece of literature to the forthcoming Brexit, neither he nor I knew what the story would be. He had to find characters and a plot that would give him the opportunity to access all the illogical emotions around this difficult subject that divides our nation. And so he created a love story between two unlikely characters: Cairo from Dudley, on a zero-hour contract, a failed boxer; and Grace, a successful documentary film maker from London. Cairo and Grace are attracted to each other but have little in common. They struggle to understand each other’s values, attitudes and approach to life. Yet, a decision they make, binds them together. Will they succeed in disentangling their lives once again and pretend that nothing has happened?

We’ve made videos about our four editorial meetings and you can watch them here.

Peirene Now! No 3 has been set into motion. For this project we will collaborate with the Lebanon based NGO Basmeh & Zeitooneh. In July and October I will travel to the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut to give two creative writing workshops in Arabic to a group of Syrian and Palestinian refugees. From this group I will then choose writers to produce stories that will aim to articulate the experience of living – often for years – in a camp where they enjoy few rights and an ambiguous legal status. These stories will be written in Arabic but then translated into English to form the core of Peirene Now! No 3 to be published in the summer of 2018.

And a couple of forthcoming events:
"Who are we?" Peirene at the Tate Exchange on Sunday 19th March, 2pm, Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG. “Join us for a conversation with publisher, Meike Ziervogel and writers, Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes, to explore the unique commissioning approach of Peirene Press. Ziervogel works closely with writers, commissioning Popoola and Holmes to go to Calais in 2015 to produce the collection of short stories, breach (2016).
Moderated by Samantha Schnee, founding editor of Words Without Borders.”

Tickets for our next Salon on 17th of June 2017 with French Canadian writer Larry Tremblay, author of Peirene No 23, The Orange Grove are now available. As always, my husband and I would be delighted to welcome you for an evening of literature, conversation, dinner & wine. 

James and Julia will distribute our 2017 newspaper Monday March 13th 8.15am to 9.15 at East Finchley station.

Best wishes Meike