With Zang Di (China), LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs (USA), Jochen Distelmeyer (Germany), Elena Fanailova (Russia), L-ness (Kenya), Reiner Kunze (Germany), Márió Z. Nemes (Hungary), Christian Prigent (France), Lisa Robertson (Canada) Hosted by: Heinrich Detering (literary scholar and poet, Germany)
Weltklang – Night of Poetry is a panorama of contemporary poetry. To open the 16th poesiefestival berlin we present a concert of voices and languages showing the wealth of contemporary international poetry in all the diversity of its approaches, themes and forms. Great poets from all parts of the world will read, perform and sing in their native languages without translations being read; exclusively for this evening, an anthology of German translations of the non-German poems will be published so that those who understand German can follow the readings. The work of Zang Di (b. 1964 in Peking, China) combines Chinese and international traditions of literature and culture in a congenial way. With great technical skill, associative lightness and astounding wordplays, he tests the boundaries of language. His combination of sober tone, complexity of thought and humour has made Zang Di an inspiration in China for a whole generation of young poets. LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs (b. 1970 in New York, USA) is a myth-creating DJ poet who mixes more than a dozen languages into an urban, Babylonian song in her texts. Her book TwERK (the title refers to the high art of Booty Shakin’ in Hip-Hop) is about the mystical hips of Michael Jackson, reanimated eels and will o’ the wisp baby mosquitoes. Her poem about Suri Cruise makes surprising connections between Björk, alpacas and Scientology. Jochen Distelmeyer (b. 1967 in Bielefeld, Germany) has revolutionised the language of German pop music as the singer and songwriter of the band Blumfeld. Rich in discourse and educated, unbourgeois and bulky, he manages to merge the most various word materials into a highly energetic language for poetry. As the newspaper taz puts it, “Quotes from his songs have become part of pop DNA”. The focus in Weltklang will be on Distelmeyer’s songs since the end of the 90s, which he will be presenting in a rare solo performance. Elena Fanailova (b. 1962 in Voronesh, Russia) is many things at once: doctor, radio reporter and philologist, but most importantly one of Russia’s major contemporary poets and one of Putin’s severest critics. One of the main concerns of her work is a deep interrogation of the shifting history of her country. For her, the most noble job of the poet is to put into words what other people are unable or unwilling to say. In doing so she is explicitly following in the footsteps of Osip Mandelstam. Reiner Kunze (b. 1933 in Oelsnitz in the Erzgebirge Mountains, Germany) is a master of the art of excision, of the condensation of language by reduction. In 1977 he left the GDR to settle in West Germany. At an early age he had found himself in opposition to the political system in the GDR. His Stasi file later bore the code name ‘Lyrik’ (‘Poetry’). Kunze’s stylistically seminal poetry has long been on the syllabus in schools. He can rightly be called a classic of contemporary German poetry. L-ness (b. 1979 in Nakuru, Kenya) is one of the most charismatic femcees of African Hip-Hop. She does not rap in Swahili or English, the two official languages of Kenya, but in Sheng, a hybrid language which developed in the slums of Nairobi and gradually became the lingua franca of the Underground. The art of L-ness, part of the ‘Gal Power’ movement, is primarily characterised by the directness and sheer energy and force of her delivery. For Weltklang she will be accompanied by MC Diamondog. Márió Z. Nemes (b. 1982 in Ajka, Hungary) is a poet of monsters, myths and mutations. His work is an assault on good taste that is as effective as it is humorous. His influences come from recombinations of apparently familiar topoi from Westerns, horror, Film Noir, pulp and Science Fiction. It features wild animals encased in eyeballs, suitcases of morphine being pushed across altar stones, a bisected centaur smoking his last cigarette and nature bubbling like a casserole. Christian Prigent (b. 1945 in Saint-Brieuc, France) challenges his audience to leave the familiar appearance and sound of words behind. He is searching for a “living language that articulates its particularity in opposition to any collectivisation of experience, of the unconscious or of styles”. Prigent has been taking the stage since the 1960s with his very different poems. Still – witty, experimental and provocative – part of the dynamic French avantgarde. Lisa Robertson’s (b. 1961 in Toronto, Canada) poems are the perfect unity of sensuality and abstraction, in which the barrier is removed between the clarity of an idea and the eroticism of its expression in language. Robertson also sees her work as a critique of neo-liberal capitalism from a feminist point of view. She deals with the tension between form, body and emotion, combining such different thematic areas as gender issues, weather forecasts and architecture.
With the kind support of the German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt), Edition diá and The Mandala Hotel Project leaders: Alexander Gumz and Matthias Kniep