The other week I received word that I had been selected as one of 50 "power Amsterdammers" by Time Out Amsterdam. This for my literary community work here, which has evolved since I moved to town in 2001. I haven't seen the write-up yet but I hope it's cool.
What's remarkable about this is just the recognition. Our organization has struggled for years with the cultural black hole we find ourselves in, which has forced us to develop self-sustaining activities as a result of the border tendencies in (cultural) funding. So in recognizing my work, Time Out is actually recognizing all of the people who have worked with me over the years to build a supportive, inclusive and accessible international literary community without the funding to do so. And it's recognizing too the importance of that community for the city as a whole.
Indeed, as Poets & Writers wrote in its last issue, Versal is the most visible manifestation of all of that community. If we had all of the money and time in the world, we would do so much more. But as it is, we are doing a lot with very little, and I am so proud of us for our achievements. I include not only my fellow editors, but also all of the writers in and around the Netherlands, who connect into the international community and help us build and sustain it. Whether you're working alone in your attic or biweekly in a writing group, whether you're trekking from The Hague to get to a reading in Amsterdam or submitting your work to Versal, you have helped make our literary community one that is, simply, community. We're not waving flags about ourselves or dead-dropping manifestos, we're simply writing and working to write, and working with each other to write. It pretty much rocks buckets.
And to think it all started with this little flyer in 2002: