“The best quality to have right now is to remain curious” – Interview with Ferenc André (Part II)

What happens when at a creative studio the copywriter is also a poet and the designer a talented illustrator? In the case of BOLD. Branding Studio based in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) the result is a beautifully illustrated poem telling the tale of an almighty virus that came along one day. Poet Ferenc André, illustrator Noémi Fazakas and web developer Kata Kovács created a “smaller poetic novel,” to help children understand why the whole world has turned upside down.

The first part of our interview with Ferenc André is available here.

TransylvaniaNOW: While most of the world is struggling with this virus situation and several people are feeling demotivated and depressed, you’ve managed to stay creative during the quarantine. What is your secret?

Ferenc André: First of all, there is no secret. It is a global pandemic with unforeseen consequences, so it is more than normal to feel demotivated, anxious and lost. I am in the privileged position that I have enough financial resources to live through the summer. But they will dry out as soon as autumn hits; then I will probably panic a bit more. Second, I’m a bit of a workaholic; I escape into writing, so my thoughts won’t wrap me up in the whirlpool of negativity. I’m terrified of what is going to happen to all of us, but since it is out of my control, I try not to think about it too much. Since we’re all powerless against the current situation, the best thing I can do is work as much as I can because the things that I learn and write will remain with me after this situation. This is my safety measure.

Ferenc André: “You don’t have to be creative, useful, productive, all day long. It’s okay to take a nap.” Photo: Facebook/André Ferenc

TN: Do you think that literature – especially children’s literature – can help the world overcome this situation? In your opinion, what should poets or writers focus on during this difficult time?

F. A.: Literature can help overcome life. A good piece of literature gives you perspective on situations, feelings you’ve never encountered before; by experiencing it through art, you’ll be a bit more open-minded, and if you ever have to confront something difficult in your life, you’ll have a tool to deal with it. You’ll know that you’re not alone; other people in other centuries have felt the same, thought the same, and lived through the same situation. Literature can make you more empathetic towards other people, animals, the planet because it makes you think. And in a world that is overcrowded with instant gratification and attention-seeking, it is elementary to be able to think. A good movie can spark your thoughts also, but literature has a more direct way of leading you through ideas.

I do not like to be prescriptive, I would not like to say what one should do in these times. I may only suggest taking a walk sometimes if you can, even only around the block. And not to worry so much about not being productive. Nobody can focus 100% throughout the day; everyone gets lost and unmotivated from time to time. Poets, writers, artists, cashiers, taxi drivers, policemen, delivery people, programmers, really everyone should be a bit kinder to themselves: It is okay to feel down. You don’t have to be creative, useful, productive, all day long. It’s okay to take a nap.

A part of the poetic children’s novel that Ferenc André wrote is available in English. Photo: wearebold.ro

TN: A part of the poem is available in English. Have you written in English or in any other language before, or was this the first time?

F. A.: I tried sometimes in the past to write in English and Romanian, but I was never really pleased with the result: The poetic imagery is not enough to make the texts fluid; you are not in control of the linguistic nuances that only a really advanced speaker is able to manage. I did some poetry slams in English and Romanian, but this is my first foreign language publication.

TN: We are starting to see the end of this situation, or at least the end of being under lockdown. Tell me one thing that you will “save” from your life before this epidemic (something you were not able to do in quarantine) and one new thing that you picked up, learned during quarantine and will continue to do after the pandemic.

F. A.: After we exit the quarantine, my girlfriend and I would like to go out in nature. We’ll bring our dog, hopefully a couple of friends, make some grilled food and enjoy the moment, that we can go outside.

This quarantine taught me that I’m not as much of an extrovert as I thought I was; I felt perfectly comfortable staying at home alone, working. So after the pandemic, I will put less effort into event organizing and more into developing myself, trying out different writing techniques, reading way more classics and staying outside more, because these four walls are really beginning to haunt me.

Title image: The hero of the story is Bence, a 10-year-old boy who comes up with a great idea. Photo: wearebold.ro

Author: Orsi Sarány