Monika Grütters (c) Christof Rieken
‘No finer land in this our time / than this our land in any clime‘: once, young women and men sat around camp fires singing these lines, which expressed a yearning for freedom beyond the bourgeois life of the Weimar Republic. The members of the ‘Wandervogel’ hiking movement wanted to live independently and in harmony with nature – the song was a hymn to the beauty of German landscapes and to life in the community. ‘No finer land’ – the phrase has a significance that can hardly be more contemporary. Every day, thousands of people are fleeing their homes and countries, which have lost all their beauty and have only the scars of war. These are women and men compelled by existential cares, poverty and persecution to embark on a frequently dangerous journey in the hope of a better life in Europe, in Germany – a finer, more beautiful land. But just how fine is this land, struggling as it is with xenophobia, in which the political right is experiencing a frightening renaissance? What will life in this land look like when different cultures, religions and languages come together?
The 17th poesiefestival berlin will be addressing issues of flight and migration and will be positioning itself this year more than ever as a political festival. 150 poets from Norway, Mexico, Romania, China, Croatia, the United States of America and other countries will be contributing to a liberal-minded, cosmopolitan face of our capital city and allowing humanity, empathy and tolerance to speak through their words.
I wish to express my sincerest thanks to the festival director, Thomas Wohlfahrt, and his team for their commitment and creativity in bringing poetry on to the big stage year for year. I wish all the festival’s loyal – and new – visitors intense and lasting encounters with the German language and with the art of poetry.
Prof. Monika Grütters MdB
Chancellery Minister of State