Although the 2021 edition of the Hay Festival in Mexico was able to display a series of face-to-face activities in Querétaro, which since 2016 has been the annual venue for the meeting recognized with the 2020 Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities ex aequo with the Guadalajara International Book Fair , it will be this 2022 when the festival can finally start up all the machinery that is also its reason for existing in Mexico and the rest of the countries where year after year it makes season: the narrowing of the borders between the great thinkers of the contemporary world and the general public, a much-needed bridge today between our diversities, to unleash creative minds in activism, science, literature and other arts.
In the 2022 edition of the Hay Festival Querétaro, to be held from this Thursday until September 5, the theaters and public squares will be able to reoccupy themselves in their entirety to listen to conversations that could not take place in any other meeting. For example, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Tawakkol Karman in conversation with Alexandra Haas, director of Oxfam Mexico; Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize for Literature 1986, with the editor Diego Rabasa, or the British journalist Caitlin Moran, author of the award-winning book How to be a woman (2004), with the Queretaro cultural manager Paulina Macías.
Face-to-face is essential
“We are really delighted to return to a one hundred percent face-to-face festival, because all the guests will come and meet a wide audience. But if we want to continue reaching audiences that cannot be there physically and want to listen to the talks even remotely, we have learned that lesson. But the experience, the meeting, the spaces for the exchange of ideas, to dream and imagine the world and to recognize oneself in others are always physical”, shares Cristina Fuentes La Roche, International Director of the Hay Festival.
The mission of the meeting, both in Wales and in Arequipa, Medellín or Querétaro, he acknowledges, is precisely to bring the great conversations closer to wide audiences and make everyone feel the owner of that exchange of words, which already culture ceases to be elitist.
“We don’t want literature and culture to be kept separate from the wider public. We have always used tools for this purpose. For example, in Colombia we use mass television to break this distance, so that anyone with curiosity can be interested from their background. Thus, anyone can enjoy a festival of ideas like this. We champion the idea of demystifying that the writer is a distant being, a sage who is in another dimension, but rather that they are people who work with ideas every day and know how to share, know how to analyze the world, very interesting people to talk about and rethink things. And all of this makes a lot more sense doing it physically.”
ideas in context
In a world where ideas seem to be polarized into black and white, the intention of the Hay Festival, confirms the international director, is to show the multiplicity of colors, of ways of seeing the world. “It’s not about focusing on the one that makes the most noise, but about meeting the people who work rigorously with those ideas. After all, the festival is here to inspire, to give a little hope and to open minds”.
It is important, Fuentes La Roche points out, that the festival seeks to ground the themes in the Mexican context and this has been achieved by combining conversations between thinkers from other contexts with Mexican interlocutors. “Let the conversation be local, national and international at the same time. That makes it interesting, unrepeatable and unique”, she concludes.
Friday September 2
Paul Maldoon (Pulitzer for poetry) – Pura López Colomé City Theater, 12:30 p.m.
Caitlin Moran (British Press Award for Best Columnist 2010) – Gabriela Warkentin Teatro de la Ciudad, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday September 3
Wole Soyinka (Nobel Prize in Literature 1986) – Diego Rabasa City Theater, 12:30 p.m.
Vivian Gornick – Elvira Liceaga City Theater, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday September 4
Clyo Mendoza and Rosa Montero – Irma Gallo Tequisquiapan, Plaza Miguel Hidalgo, 12:00 p.m.
Cristina Rivera Garza – Francisco Carrillo Courtyard of the Historical Center Delegation, 5:00 p.m.
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