A warm welcome to the 140 poets, artists, scholars and colleagues who have come to Berlin from 23 countries. Over the next ten days, we will all be experiencing poetry at its finest, seeing and hearing the best and most interesting developments that the oldest art form known to humanity has to offer. It is coming from across the world and in the most diverse forms: as a poem in the traditional sense, in combination with dance, music, performance, film and theatre, interlaced with digital media, or as the interactive installation called POESIS: Word games.
Between the opening event Weltklang and the premiere of the long poem “Fredy Neptune” by Les Murray, which will mark the end of the festival, there will again be a lot of work carried out and many new developments. TextTanz will be presenting, for the first time in Germany, the Volcano dance theatre from Toronto, while the night-time programme is also full of premieres. Poetry talks and colloquia will widen our thought horizons. But what would a tenth birthday be without something new? The programme for children has been strengthened considerably, and instead of one main focus, this year will have several: German into Polish and vice versa will be the language combination in the VERSschmuggel poetry translation workshop; Africa Day, focussing on southern Africa, will open up further poetic regions in this immense continent; the change of political style in the USA also brings new views and issues for the world of American poetry; and there is even a German day, if you want to see it this way, as we look back on poems from the former country that was the GDR as well as from the former West.
All this has been made possible thanks to our supporters and sponsors, among them the Capital Culture Fund and all our partners in Germany and abroad, to whom I would like to express my heartfelt thanks. I would like to say a big thank you to the many people who have supported us in words and deeds and also to the translators. Thanks also go to the President of the Akademie der Künste, Klaus Staeck, and all our colleagues there for their exceptional teamwork. I would also like to thank our patron, the Governing Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit. I wish all the authors and artists a fun stay in Berlin as well as strength, luck and success in their events. And I hope that the public enjoys many surprises and discoveries in the wide field of poetry.
Dr. Thomas Wohlfahrt
Director of the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin
and director of the poesiefestival berlin