(Un)told Pages, Denmark’s first literature festival and pop-up book shop showcasing exclusively black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) authors, will take place in Copenhagen from 28th November to 8th December. Founded and run by Maya Acharya and Elisabeth Bruun Gullach, the festival is creating a space that the two life-long book-lovers feel has been missing from the Copenhagen scene.
“We wanted to create a space that we wish existed,” explains Maya, “where whiteness was not the norm, or not centered, in books and literature. As biracial people who grew up in primarily white spaces, we both had this desire to make a platform that showcased something beyond white narratives. That’s why we named the festival (un)told; because these stories have always been told. We wanted a nod in the title to the fact that these perspectives exist, it is the space for them that has been lacking. And they deserve that space.”
Elisabeth nods, continuing, “It won’t be a typical literature festival, and not just in terms of the authors we present. We want to make sure that both the content and the events are really accessible. The location too, which is why we’re holding it at Øen in Nørrebro. There will be one event per day and the range is really wild, from an interactive installation in the bookshop by artist Raghav Bashyal to a zine workshop on intimacy
Indeed, it’s not only the authors represented, but also the readers that make (Un)told Pages so special. “Literature festivals can feel exclusive,” says Elisabeth, “so for us it was really important to create something that felt like a comfortable space for book lovers of all ages and interests. That’s why we will create community guidelines for the festival ahead of time. We’re trying to keep everyone in mind! All the events are free, although some require signing up beforehand.”
Maya and Elisabeth, both while working full time jobs, came up with the festival’s program, secured funding, and recruited authors.
There are approximately 120 authors from across the world represented, with most of those participating in the festival being based in Scandinavia and the UK. Genres covered including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, and science fiction.
“The pop-up aspect of the festival was important to us, because it creates value for the authors. And obviously, so people can buy books!” Maya laughs, “You can never have too many books.”
The pop-up will also be selling artwork and postcards by BIPOC artists, in an effort to widen their platform and the ways in which they are useful to artists and authors of color.
But Elisabeth and Maya aren’t satisfied with just one festival. “Of course we’re focused on this first festival and making that a success,” explains Maya, “but ultimately we want to be doing this full time. Our dream is to have our own bookshop that we can use as a place to share, hold events, and generally support BIPOC authors and artists. It’s something that this city really needs, and it’s also something we’re passionate about.
That passion is evident when speaking to the two founders, but also in the shape that the festival has taken. It takes a lot dedication and persistence to pull off an event like this, and the incredible range of events, authors, and genres represented highlights the critical thought that has gone into the creation of the program.
If you’ve also felt the absence of space for BIPOC-centred narratives and perspectives in literature in Denmark, it’s time to to get the (un)told story.
Thursday 28th November – Sunday 8th December
2200 København N
NB: There is no official address for Øen but it can be found right next to Superkilen.
Your (Un)told Pages Reading List:
– Burgerz by Travis Alabanza
– Mixed Race Superman by Will Harris
– Melanin by Mikas Lang
– Ophav by Eva Tind
– Eg Snakkar Om Det Heila Tida by Camara Lundestad Joof
– Den Sorte Bog (B-sider) by Lone Aburas
– ASH-SHAHEED [Vidnet] by Jamal Bendahman
– Somebody Give This Heart a Pen by Sophia Thakur
– Poetry by Arlo Parks
All of the above authors will be participating in the festival.
Photo credit: Aphinya Jatuparisakul