‘Letters to Iceland’: a panel featuring Rosita Boland, Selina Guinness & Colin Graham, at NonfictionNow in Reykjavik, June 2017.
In 1937, W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice, published their co-authored Letters from Iceland, “the most unorthodox travel book ever written” (Daily Mail). Less an account of their actual journey undertaken the previous year, than a mock-heroic model of collaborative practice, Auden describes it as a “collage”—“a form that’s large enough to swim in.” Playful in spirit and parodic in intention, these verse epistles, absurd tourist notes and personal correspondence combine to produce a book that refracts the poets’ anxieties about the imminent collapse of Europe.
Taking Letters from Iceland as a starting point, our panel was a series of six letters, handwritten and posted, in various ways, in advance of the conference, contemplating friendship, collaboration, travel, writing and photography.