A couple of nights ago, I read at the Bloomsbury Festival on the invitation of the short story queen Jay Merrill, who presented an account of her desire to make the perfect B’s, the top loop equal in size to the bottom one.
At the bar afterwards, with her and the Anglo-French writer Susanna Crossman and the indefatigable sky-blue t-shirt-clad poet Russell Bennetts—editor of Berfrois and its little sister Queen Mob’s—we chatted about Carnaby Street, Hinduism, Catalunya and the challenges of writing beyond a given identity.
For me, the event represented something of the Berfrois spirit, international, a mélange of themes, upbeat, vibrant and interested in cultivating openness and curiosity. It wasn’t strictly a Berfrois event, but it was one made possible by the widening circles of connection and affection that Berfrois among others has helped to create.
In our age, literary links made possible by the Internet transform with frequency into real-life friendships and events, with these modes existing as a shimmering flux, degrees on a continuum. The first text I published on Berfrois was a translation, followed by a series of what I gave the title ‘philosophical promenades’, accompanied by assorted reviews on which a more traditional publication might have slapped a compression belt.
Berfrois invites the eclectic, the random, the angular and the independent, as well as the search and backtrack and discovery of language, which in the funny way things work, tends to gets to the heart of the matter more quickly than institutionalised, ankylotic approaches. From the start the pataphysical French-flavoured name was attractive to me, and as Berfrois reaches its ten-year birthday, I send my wish that it may always keep its energy of a ten-year-old: still in development, still full of anarchic questioning, still full of innocent beauty and still looking for new comrades, in this case other publications and individual collaborators from all over the world. May Berfrois reach its intellectual quinceañera with joy and daring; it’s been a pleasure to be a part of its growing up.
Image (top) by Whiskey Radish