At the end of 2015, together with Antwerpen Boekenstad (Antwerp Book City), citybooks Antwerp got underway. Antwerp played host to the dawn of bookmaking in Europe, and many well- and lesser-known authors earned their livelihoods in the bend of the River Scheldt. As part of BesteBuren, a year celebrating Flemish-Dutch creativity and cultural collaboration, we invited five authors and a photographer to make a citybook about Antwerp.
The city portraits of the ‘koekenstad’ were written by two international poets: the Netherlands-based Iraqi Rodaan Al Galidi and the Syrian Ghayath Almadhoun, who lives and works in Stockholm. Alongside these, we invited three young authors, all of whom made their debut in 2015: Rebekka de Wit, Frederik Willem Daem and Michael Bijnens. The Irish photographer Garry Loughlin jumped on the bike with his camera and made a series of 24 photos of the city.
For Almadhoun and De Wit alike, this is their second contribution to the project. The Syrian poet wrote a gripping citybook after a residency in Ypres, while Rebekka de Wit spent two weeks in Venice and wrote the citybook As Venice is Now. Her citybook about Antwerp will be translated into English during a special translation project with students at the University of Sheffield.
Antwerpen Boekenstad has furnished the city of Antwerp with literary programming since 2003. This civic service is the point of contact for the needs and questions of literary organisations active in the city on the Scheldt. As well as playing a stimulating and coordinating role, Antwerpen Boekenstad also organises literary events of its own.