Weltklang - Night of Poetry

Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein © Emma Bee Bernstein

The work of radical modernist Charles Bernstein (b. 1950 in New York) needs a slanted shelf in the bookcase of international contemporary poetry. As the guiding spirit of experimental poetry and reviver of the American long poem, Bernstein is at the same time icon and iconoclast. He breaks the painted images that he himself creates in his poems. His atonal, polyvalent texts are like the welded pastry containing frog-filled chocolates in one of his poems.
Bernstein is also well-known as the editor of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Magazine (1978–1981), which sparked off much vital discourse and promoted the theories of experimental literature like no other, and is still a vade mecum for all avant-garde writers, opening up more than one way for poetry into a possible future.

Publications (Selection):
Rough Trades, Sun & Moon Press 1991
Dark City, Sun & Moon Press 1994
Republics of Reality: 1975–1995, Sun & Moon Press 2000
With Strings, University of Chicago Press 2001
Girly Man, University of Chicago Press 2006
All the Whiskey in Heaven, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2010
Recalculating, University of Chicago Press 2013

Robert Forster

Robert Forster © Stephen Booth

Robert Forster (b. 1957 in Brisbane) is the “golden boy” of international Indie Pop. Together with Grant McLennan (b. 1958 in Rockhampton, d. 2006) and Belinda “Lindy” Morrison (b. 1951 in Queensland) he was the creative core of the band The Go-Betweens, which they formed in 1977. McLennan describes the three band members in his song ‘Riddle In The Rain’ as “A reluctant bitter feminist / A boy with thin wrists / A tall man with a gift”. Contemporaries of the boy wonders of Aztec Camera, Orange Juice, Scritti Politti, XTC and The Smiths, The Go-Betweens went in the Eighties and Nineties on the search for the Holy Grail of the music world – the perfect pop song. They never had a big top ten hit, but what they did create was a string of immortal compositions. Two almost perfect albums were released in the Eighties, Before Hollywood (1983) and 16 Lovers Lane (1988). At the time, Forster played the role of the dandyish front man (sometimes in a dress, sometimes in a poncho), at once living and sending up the pop star dream. His musical contemporary Nick Cave has called him “the truest and strangest poet of his generation”. The band’s fame is still legendary. Every other band approaching the top of the Pitchfork Scale either cites The Go-Betweens as an influence or sounds like them. After McLennan’s death, Forster has continued his solo career, most recently releasing his celebrated album Songs to Play. His memoir, Grant & I, is reckoned alongside Mark E. Smith’s Renegade and Morrissey’s Autobiography, to be one of the major books written about music in the past few years.


Grant & I: Inside and Outside the Go-Betweens, Omnibus Press 2017

The Go-Betweens discography (selection):
Send Me A Lullaby, 1981
Before Hollywood, 1983
Spring Hill Fair, 1984
Liberty Belle And The Black Diamond Express, 1986
Tallulah, 1987
16 Lovers Lane, 1988
The Friends of Rachel Worth, 2000
Bright Yellow Bright Orange, 2003
Oceans Apart, 2005
That Striped Sunlight Sound, 2006

Robert Forster discography:
Danger in the Past, 1989
Calling From a Country Phone, 1993
I Had a New York Girlfriend, 1995
Warm Nights, 1996
The Evangelist, 2008
Songs to Play, 2015

Jorge Kanese

Jorge Kanese © Léonce Lupette

Jorge Kanese (b. 1947 in Asunción) is a poet and a doctor specialising in microbiology. He comes from the area known as the “Triple Frontera” where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet. In his texts he amalgamates Portuguese, Spanish and Guaraní to make a wild “Spanurguese” Kanese writes “porno-post-avant-garde”, subversively undermining all dominance discourses, and thus firmly in the South-American tradition of the exuberant Neobarroco. His poems are a linguistic unleashing of celebration and releasing of all that is suppressed, a picaresque-performative rolling in the mud. This aggressive aesthetic of the ugly is a linguistic act against the logic of judgement and statement of political authorities. It is an agrammatical, stammering diction, an anti-hegemonic, transnational language born of self-defence and experience of suffering under dictatorship (under the Stroessner dictatorship Kanese was proscribed, imprisoned and tortured for “political activities”).

Ketty Nivyabandi

Ketty Nivyabandi © Chris Schwagga

Ketty Nivyabandi (geb. 1978 in Uccle, Belgien) musste 2015 aus Burundi fliehen, wo sie seit den späten 80er Jahren lebte. Zu unbequem war die Dichterin und Aktivistin, zu stark die von ihr organisierten Proteste für die Rechte von Frauen.
Aber auch als Geflüchtete engagiert sich Nivyabandi weiter für die Menschenrechte in ihrem Land. Sie ist eine der Gründerinnen des ‘Women Movement for Peace and Security’ in Burundi und war 2012 Repräsentantin Burundis beim Londoner „Poetry Parnassus“, als Teil der dortigen Sommer-Olympiade.
Das Werk von Ketty Nivyabandi stellt einen der raren Fälle dar, in denen politisches Engagement auf poetische Vielschichtigkeit trifft. Nivyabandi schreibt auf Französisch und Englisch: Gedichte, die formbewußt und bildstark die poetischen Traditionen ihrer Heimat aktualisieren, die, die Geschichte ihres Landes an der eigenen Biografie spiegeln. Mit der Kraft ihrer Worte verwandelt Nivyabandi all das in eine originäre Form von lyrischem Widerstand. Ihre Gedichte sind Gesänge einer „geschredderten Nation“ aus „Zerbrochen-aber-ganzen-Menschen“, die trotz Krieg, Hunger und Verfolgung nicht aufhören, auf dem Wort „Freiheit“ herumzukauen.

Veröffentlichungen (bisher nur) in Anthologien:
Même le ciel ne pleure plus, Slatkine, Genève, 2011
Emergences: Renaitre ensemble, Sembura, Uganda, 2011
In-dépendance, Soma Editions, Burundi, 2012
World Record, Bloodaxe, United
Kingdom, 2012
Kwani 08 Kwani, Nairobi, 2015
Quand on n'a que l'amour, Editions Bruno Doucey, Paris, 2015
Chants du Métissage, Editions Bruno Doucey, Paris, 2015
120 nuances d’Afrique, Editions Bruno Doucey, Paris, 2016


Kerstin Preiwuß

Kerstin Preiwuß © Jorinde Gersina

Poet and prose-writer Kerstin Preiwuß (b. 1980 in Lübz) grew up in Plau am See and Rostock. She gained attention with her book Rede (Speak) (Suhrkamp Verlag 2012), a long poem in thirteen parts dealing with the aid of poetic language with endangerments and transformations of the self and of the hazardous venture of becoming certain of the self while at the same time freeing oneself from its boundaries. What is special about the text is its song-like high tone, which is constantly diffused with everyday speech. Poet Nadja Küchenmeister admires Preiwuß’s texts for the intimacy of their language, the musicality of the lines and the effort to make reference even in the smallest details to the whole of existence which is often found to be fragile.
Preiwuß’s follow-up collection Gespür für Licht (A Feel for Light) (Berlin Verlag 2016) includes painfully beautiful texts, rich in assonance and idiosyncratic rhymes, about the non-appearance of the beautiful and about what we surely lose because we love it. The poet writes about the cuddly-affectionate darkness, sonorous sounds of velvet, the modest light of Autumn and the quick darknesses of December, but also about the brightness of the world like a bell against the glass. The language of Kerstin Preiwuß is powerful and world-embracing; she herself describes it as an animal in her mouth from which the mutinous word breaks out.

Nachricht von neuen Sternen. Gedichte, Connewitzer Verlagsbuchhandlung 2006
Rede. Poems, Suhrkamp Verlag 2012
Restwärme. Novel, Berlin Verlag 2014
Gespür für Licht. Poems, Berlin Verlag 2016
Nach Onkalo. Novel, Berlin Verlag 2017

Yoko Tawada

Yoko Tawada © Florian Thoss

Yoko Tawada (b. 1960 in Tokyo) studied literature in Japan and Germany, and gained her doctorate in Switzerland with a thesis on ‘Drums and Language Magic in European Literature’. After spending many years in Hamburg, she has lived in Berlin since 2006.
Tawada works deep in the hidden object game of words, writes essays, prose, stage plays, radio plays and poems in German and Japanese and is known for her performative readings and word-acrobatics. Since 1978 she has done more than 1,000 readings in various countries, not infrequently together with musicians such as jazz pianist Aki Takase.
Above all, Tawada makes sparks fly in her writing, taking the world at its word and looking at it as though it were being looked at for the very first time. “The space between two languages is not a gap, but the space where literature is actually written,” says Tawada.
Yoko Tawada has received many awards in both countries, including the Akutagawa Literature Prize, the Goethe Medal, the Erlangen Literature prize for Poetry as Translation and the Kleist Prize. She has been awarded many fellowships. She is a member of the German Academy for Language and Poetry.

Selected works in English
The Bridegroom Was a Dog (Inu muko iri, 犬婿入り), translated by Margaret Mitsutani, Kodansha International (2003) This edition includes Missing Heels (Kakato o nakushite).
Where Europe Begins, translated by Susan Bernofsky and Yumi Selden, New Directions Publishing Corporation (2002).
Facing the Bridge, translated by Margaret Mitsutani, New Directions Publishing Corporation (2007).
The Naked Eye, translated by Susan Bernofsky, New Directions Publishing Corporation (2009).
Yoko Tawada's Portrait of a Tongue: An Experimental Translation by Chantal Wright, University of Ottawa Press (2013).
Memoirs of a Polar Bear, translated by Susan Bernofsky, New Directions Publishing Corporation (2016).
The Emissary, translated by Margaret Mitsutani, New Directions Publishing Corporation (2018).

Søren Ulrik Thomsen

Søren Ulrik Thomsen © Robin Skjoldborg

Søren Ulrik Thomsen (b. 1956 in Kalundborg), is one of Denmark’s most popular poets and spent his childhood on the Stevns Peninsula south of Copenhagen. In 1972 he moved to the Danish capital. His debut collection was City Slang (1981). This has been followed by seven further volumes of verse and several collections of essays, and a best-of book, Samlede Thomsen (2014).
Thomsen is a master of the small gesture. With apparently effortless casualness he makes everyday objects collide with theories – in a diction that merges laconic expression with pathos and humour. Love, dying, mourning and happiness are the great questions that light up Thomsen’s poems like spaceships on a dusty office desk.
To accompany Rystet spejl (Shaken Mirror; 2011) an album was released in 2013 recorded by him with six young musicians from Det Glemte Kvarter. Their joint range extends from almost transparent sound landscapes to full-blown poetry-funk, a widely ranging synthesis of words and music between jazz, pop and avant-garde.
Thomsen is also a translator. Together with Jørgen Mejer he has translated Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex (1990) and Euripides’ The Phoenician Women (1998) into Danish. Søren Ulrik Thomsen has been awarded many Danish literary prizes and fellowships and has been a member of the Danish Academy since 1995.

Publications (selection):

in Danish:

City Slang. 1981
Ukendt under den samme måne. 1982
Nye digte. 1987
Hjemfalden. 1991
Det skabtes vaklen. 1996
Det værste og det bedste, 2002 (illustrated by Ib Spang-Olsen)
Rystet Spejl, 2011
Samlede Thomsen, 2014

in English:
Selected Poems, Meeting Eyes Bindery, 1999

Music (selection):
POWER. Det Glemte Kvarter. Oplæsning Thomsen, Sony Music 2016

Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki

Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki © Marta Sputowska

Poet Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki (b. 1962 in Wólka Krowicka near Lubaczów) grew up in the Carpathian foothills, in a small village in the district of Przemyskie on the Ukrainian border. Tkaczyszyn-Dycki is an outsider in contemporary Polish poetry, a poète maudit par excellence. His work follows no school and does not set out to found a school. The two big themes to which Tkaczyszyn-Dyckis keeps on coming back with artistic variations throughout his work are his mother’s schizophrenia and the death of his friend. According to Michael Braun, his poems talk of the pain of body and soul, nonetheless amounting to a poignant song of life. In one, he conjures a world that is unstable with disappearance, located in a border region between sleep and waking, imagination and reality. He tells of the ubiquity of death, of the great warm dying, of bones calling through the mouths of friends and of the sickness wandering among boys. His repetitive, song-like verse is like an informant reporting from the darkness, with its deeply hypnotic effect coming from the linguistic wildness at the edge of darkness.

Peregrinary (tr. Bill Johnston), Zephyr Press, 2008