GT Future Journalists Interview Director of National Library, Giorgi Kekelidze

The Future Journalist competition gives Georgian youth throughout the country the chance to showcase their journalistic skills in three stages, with the ultimate prize a two-week English and Journalism course in the UK this summer. Organized by Georgia Today Education and supported by UK Bridge, the competition aims to discover the best future journalists in Georgia.

Giorgi Kekelidze was born in 1984 in Ozurgeti, Guria, and is a poet, essayist and the founder of the first Georgian digital library lib.ge.

Since 2010, he has been a literary columnist for the popular magazine Tabula. He delivers lectures on Classical literature at the Free University of Tbilisi. In 2012, he founded charitable organizations “Lib-Equilibrium” and “Lib-Club” which unite students and have social and educational functions.

In 2012, he was appointed as a director of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, at the age of 27, the youngest ever to hold the position. He began reforms in several directions – digitalization, TV programs, the opening of various thematic corners, including in libraries in other countries for the Georgian Diaspora, a library of e-learning which united regional libraries, the opening of the largest electronic room in Georgia – 40 tablet computers, free internet zone, publishers’ corner with the latest books, and a presentation space – as well as a Georgian ecological hall, renovated children’s room and, last year, he helped open the biggest Book Museum in Georgia. He also founded the literary prize for children’s books in 2013.

All the above merely scratch the surface of what Mr Kekelidze has done for the benefit of Georgian literature and the exposure of citizens to that literature. We met him to find out more.

What’s the main privilege in being the Director of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia?

I think it’s a very big responsibility and honor too, because the Georgian National Library is a book store which includes all of the published books that have been published in Georgia and, naturally, all of them need to be protected, preserved and, in most cases, popularized too.

Do you think modern Georgian authors have the same writing potential as authors of the 19th or 20th century?

Yes, I think that we have many talented authors, as much in poetry as in prose. But our main problem is that we’re lacking the right management: there are right and wrong ways to go about popularizing books with Georgian and foreign readers.

What’s the best way to motivate this generation of youth to get in touch with books?

I think the best way to motivate students is to have good schools employing good teachers. It’s the most important thing that we have to change to motivate students.

Who or what has been the greatest influence in your creativity?

The greatest influence in my creativity has been the environment I’m living in. There are a lot of authors who inspired me- too many to list, but top of the pile would be Vazha Pshavela and Galaktion Tabidze.

Which actor would you like to see playing the lead character in your most recent book if it was made into a film?

I don’t know. I’ve not thought about it, but because I’m writing a play and the lead character is an old man, maybe he could be played by John Malkovich.

Have you ever met anyone “living the life” of a great novel?

I think we unexpectedly meet such people every day. For me, these types of people are those I meet in villages; their lives and biographies aren’t at all different from famous people’s lives in their intrigues and interesting facts.

Questions from runner-up Keti Kveliashvili: Where do you get your inspiration?

I have a different style of writing, trying to turn imagination into reality. I also get ideas from my childhood. Imagination and fiction is life, which for me means every minute and every second that we live. Inspiration can be found anywhere- even in this interview! From even a second of formality, a new idea can be borne.

How do you deal with criticism or negative reviews for books you have written?

I used to get really emotional about negative feedback, but I’ve got used to it now. It’s really important to accept criticism and to listen to and learn from it, and I think we need to focus on this critical system because it’s important for a writer’s moving forward in his work.

A question from runner-up Ana Japaridze: what do you seek to share with people through your work?

There are enormous differences in the way I create poetry and prose. In poetry, I try to process folklore, use idioms, play with words. In my prose, I always make a connection with my childhood experiences. In general, it’s about introspection and bringing up feelings I’m familiar with. I’d say the pen is a phenomenon by which my feelings, wishes and pains are shared with the public.

By Keta Chachua

14 June 2018 21:00

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