We believe you haven’t missed Bob Dylan being honored as the Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature last week. The Nobel honored Dylan’s contribution who “(had) created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” We thought, “Well, why of course.” A lot of argued how this selection might have trespassed the traditional definition of literature, but we agree with the Nobel Team’s choice. We too think that literature is a broad realm, and this choice has indeed expanded the definition of literature. This is crucial for the industry in general, and to what we do at Seumpama.

Earlier this year as I stumbled into being known as someone who writes, I had difficulties on how I’d like the idea of writing would remain relevant in the future. Of course I could always find topics that matters, but there’s another part of the constellation is the medium. In my head, as I shared it with Ninit, I’ve always seen Seumpama not as book store, that’s why we ended up calling it: a book studio. The term fits because although we are selling books, our idea for Seumpama is that it becomes a mode of experimenting with what storytelling can do, we’re doing books now but we are sure there are more beyond the kingdom of books. 

For now, it’s books, because it’s what works for us right now. But we never wanted to limit our selves to books. It’s a medium that may extinct in the near future albeit many have claimed it wouldn’t. Yes, we agree that e-book could never give the sensation of old books do. We do think it could never be replaced, but we think its relevance may decrease. We wish that day never come, we really do, but we are truly aware that for the story to survive there are many ways to document the idea behind a tale.

Pay closer attention to the last sentence of paragraph two: ‘our idea for Seumpama is for it to experiment with what storytelling can do, through books’. Notice, that ‘experiment’ and ‘storytelling’ comes first before ‘book’. We really want to push what we can do with story experimentation. Books built us, and it will always become our first love, our origin, our main media, but the more important aspect of what we do is storytelling. Words travel through a record of different format which is why the Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan is so relevant and somehow relieving.

L.A. Times mentioned how this year’s Nobel shows how “artists create works of popular culture with just as much care, control, courage and genius as Ernest Hemingway did sitting down at a typewriter.” It is such a powerful notion and affirmation because as long as we create stories with quality, care, and respect, as long as we remain relevant, we can grow while staying true with the craft of storymaking and telling. Seumpama’s interpretation may be different, we will use different medias, but we will stay true to what matters: the story.

Dylan’s powerful words were transferred through his lyrics, as Shakespeare did through his plays and novels, as Lin Manuel Garcia through his Hamilton musical. It’s consistent with how literary is defined – at least in the dictionary I found. It says: (when you talk of literary of language, it is) associated with literary works or other formal writing; having a marked style intended to create a particular emotional effect. That emotion is what I find that what matters most. I think Dylan deserves the Noble because he focuses the art of taking words and connect to affect people’s life through the story he packaged through his songs. He is fascinating, infuriating and enduring, as Guardian wrote, he deserves the prize.

Nobel has never been considered (or listed) as part of Seumpama’s goal – for now, but having stories as the forefront and asset to our culture is. Dylan’s Nobel opens for more opportunities and ideas for us to achieve this goal; and on our way there, you can expect us experimenting and reinventing new ways to connect you (and ourselves) with stories.



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