Featuring Hinemoana Baker NZL | Caroline Bergvall FRA/NOR | Ana Blandiana ROU | Souleymane Diamanka SEN/FRA | Luis Felipe Fabre MEX | Gerhard Falkner GER | Rasha Omran SYR/EGY | Charles Simic SRB/USA | Uljana Wolf GER Presenter: Shelly Kupferberg GER Journalist
Weltklang – Night of Poetry is a panorama of contemporary poetry. The opening event of the 17th poesiefestival berlin is a concert of voices and languages presenting the richness of contemporary poetry from around the world and the diversity of its subjects and forms. Poets from all parts of the world will be reading, performing and singing in their own languages, without translations being read. An anthology of German translations of the texts has been specially published for this evening to enable those in the audience who can read German to read along.
Hinemoana Baker (born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1968), is the daughter of a Maori and a Pakeha, a descendant of European colonists, and is a singer-songwriter and poet between Spoken Word and classical form. She artfully and blatantly mixes autobiography with found texts from dictionaries and medical brochures. Baker writes about the black and white rings around the eyes of a curlew and about internal family language games with absent fathers. In her poems the chirping of cicadas sounds like a Mormon tabernacle choir.
Caroline Bergvall (born in Hamburg in 1962) works conceptually in very various media. Her multi-lingual work traverses the boundary between poetry and fine art. Poet Charles Bernstein has described her work as a feast for the eyes, the ears and the mind. Her texts experiment with cut-up and fold-in techniques and draw on such different artists as Marcel Proust, Unica Zürn and Dante Alighieri. The poems she will be reading this evening include the multi-lingual poem ‘Crop’ from her collection Meddle English.
The first collection of poems by Ana Blandiana (born in Temeswar, Romania in 1942) was published in 1964. Until the Romanian revolution of 1989 she was a civil rights activist and spoke out clearly in her work and in interviews against the social evils of the Ceauşescu regime, which earned her a publication ban. Today Blandiana heads the Sighet Memorial, an institute for coming to terms with the legacy of Romania’s Communist past. Her poems are far from being merely political statements. They combine the political and the personal and poetry of ideas with clear, strong imagery. Her unpretentious poetry is a constant re-exploration of the contradictions of our present.
Souleymane Diamanka (born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1974) grew up in Bordeaux. His Spoken Word and Rap texts blend the rich imagery of the griots, the singers of West Africa, with the aesthetics of French Modernism. Diamanka thus updates the oral tradition of his forefathers, the Fulbe, a shepherd people from the Sahel region. He tracks down similarities and assonances between Ful, the language of the Fulbe, and French. He speaks and sings about the sorrow of the angels and the voices in his head. For Weltklang – Night of Poetry he will be accompanied in the guitar and with samples and loops by Alexandre Verbiese.
The poems of Luis Felipe Fabre (born in Mexico City in 1974) are trailers for films that have never been made, poetic re-imaginations of national myths using the aesthetics of trash literature and splatter films. In Fabre’s work there are wild drinking sessions after spiritualistic seances and murdered girls who turn up again as vampire women. In Fabre’s poetically concise verse essays he deals with such subjects as the work and reception of the Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Gerhard Falkner (born in Schwabach in1951) published his first collection in 1981. Since then he has been pushing the boundaries of contemporary poetry with every book and multi-media project he has done. As well as prose, plays and polemical essays, his work includes broad-based poetry projects such as a cycle on the Pergamon altar frieze. Falkner also writes impressive, explosive poetry about tables, painkillers and the gods at Aldi. For Weltklang Gerhard Falkner will be reading previously unpublished poems.
Rasha Omran (born in Tartus, Syria in 1964) was expelled from the country because of her continuous involvement in opposition to the Assad regime and currently lives in Cairo. In the late 90s she founded the Al-Sindiyan literary and cultural festival in her home city. She has so far published five books of verse. In her texts, Rasha Omran writes about history leaking from archives of past crimes, about body parts sunk in rivers like fish food and about poets who keep giggling despite all the bitterness.
Charles Simic (born in Belgrade in 1938) became an American poet who was made poet laureate. His poems are surrealistically bizarre, taking place in locations like slaughterhouses and slide shows with two-headed calves and six-legged dogs, where cockroaches have fake papers and Dostoevsky is working as a bouncer. Simic is also a master of the small, everyday things in poems about coat-hangers, lost gloves and keys.
Uljana Wolf (born in Berlin in 1979) was the youngest winner of the Peter Huchel Prize for her first collection of poems in 2006. Researching between languages plays a major role in her poems, in which she outlines what cannot be translated with clear forms. Living today in New York and Berlin, she explores political issues of identity, migration and language policy in her texts between cultures. Her texts are instruments of understanding, with their precision of sound, experimental forms and stylistic concretion of the sensual. On this evening, Uljana Wolf will be reading previously unpublished work.
Project leaders: Alexander Gumz and Matthias Kniep