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“Dos Orillas” Magazine: A Foray into the Culture of the Strait

Rosario Pérez

“Dos Orillas” (“Two Shores”), an Algeciras-based cultural publication edited by the author Paloma Fernández Gomá, has received the 7th “Manuel Altolaguirre” Patron of Andalusian Literature Award.

It all started with a collection of poetry by writers from Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco called “Arribar a la Bahía” (“Landing in the Strait”) in the year 2000; which was the seed which would grow into “Tres Orillas” magazine. In 2012, the magazine was renamed “Dos Orillas” to reflect the northern and southern shores of the Strait. The publication recently received the 7th “Manuael Altolaguirre” Patron of Andalusian Literature Award.

Editor of the magazine, Paloma Fernández Gomá told ReachExtra that she couldn’t be happier about receiving the award, which she was told about while staying at her country home near Jimena where she had been staying during lockdown – and where, like many of us, she is waiting for life to return to normal.

“This award, which was presented by the Association of Writers of Spain’s Andalusian chapter, came as a complete surprise, and I take it for what it is – a gift. It’s an accolade for my magazine, which has survived many uncertain times, like the economic crisis of 2011 which seriously damaged the culture industry”.

Paloma Fernandez Goma Dos Orillas
Editor of the Dos Orillas, Paloma Fernández Gomá

Gomá, who was born in Madrid but has lived in Algeciras since childhood, said that she was both grateful and exited by the news, but still doesn’t know whether a ceremony will take place at all – although she has hopes that it will when possible. Over the past 20 years, Gomá has been the editor and director of “Dos Orillas” magazine.

“Algeciras should be recognised for its cultural importance”

“The city of Algeciras is of great significance due to its history and culture, but, unfortunately, we usually make the news for drug-related stories – as if drug problems do not exist anywhere else… It is a shame, and it hurts me, because this city deserves to be recognised for its good qualities”, the writer told us.

“The bridge which connects with Africa is here in the Strait, with all that comes cultural exchange, diversity and wealth.”

The magazine, which maintains the same spirit which it has since the beginning, and has had the support of the Instituto Cervantes in Tangier and Tetouan as well as the now-dismantled Transfronterizo Institute. Its pages are filled with content by creators, historians and researchers from both sides of the Strait. It also maintains a commitment to providing a space for numerous “hispanists”, with a particular focus in Morocco – you can find many Moroccan contributors, such as Mohamed Bouissef or León Cohen.

Paloma Fernandez Goma Dos Orillas

“I still have the correspondence from those initial first years with the first three Moroccan hispanitsts via the Instituto Cervantes in Tangier and Tetouan… At the time, it wasn’t like now – where you can contact someone on WhatsApp and make free phone calls; in the year 2000, international calls were expensive and mail took a long time to be delivered”, Fernández Gomá recalled… stating that when this technological evolution happened, the magazine took off on the other side of the shore, as it had done so recently in 2018.

According to Gomá, the next issue of “Dos Orillas” will hit the streets in the coming months and will be dedicated to the 100-year anniversary of Trina Mercader; a writer who lived in the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco who founded a bilingual magazine (Arabic and Spanish) in the mid-20th Century called “Al-Motamid” “(“Certified”).

All Bets on Print Publications in the Age of the Internet

Paloma Fernandez Goma Dos Orillas

Fernández Gomá said that the publication continues to maintain links with Gibraltar, and a “determined” commitment to print, although in recent years social media has undoubtedly become, as she puts it, “an open window into the world which allows us to reach readers that we would have been unable to get to otherwise”.

At the end of the day, the publication is all about building bridges to different cultures, which is the best way for humans to connect, regardless of where you are born or where you live.

“Culture opens minds, demolishes prejudice, teaches and dignifies people… furthermore, in these turbulent times that we live in, culture is a remedy; an open door, a common territory – even at a distance”.

What do you think?