In 1959, during the reign of Francisco Franco and with Spanish culture at a great distance from its European neighbours or its South American cousins, the Spanish author Camilo José Cela gathered a group of literary colleagues at the Conversaciones Poéticas de Formentor in the island’s northern-most mountain range. Señor Cela would much later become a Nobel Laureat (in 1989), and the winner of the Premio Cervantes (in 1995).
In 1961, this event led to the Premios Formentor competition, which was held again in Formentor the following year, although it would travel to other places in the world after that. Last year, a revival of these international literary gatherings returned to Mallorca, and to the emblematic Hotel Formentor which was founded 81 years ago, in 1928.
On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the first Poetic Conversations, the Conversaciones Literarias en Formentor 2009 are being held this weekend. The event was inaugurated yesterday evening. Sadly, Camilo José Cela has long since passed away (in 2002) and couldn’t attend this time, but his Portuguese colleague, José de Sousa Saramago, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, is expected to attend this event on Sunday at 12h00.
We all have left it too late to participate, whatever our literary ambitions. Instead, we could have a cup of tea, or a pint, at the beach bar in Cala Formentor and trust our luck in spotting one or the other literary celebrity.
The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 14th, 2009. The time was 14:48:13.