With the poets Ichiko Aoba (JPN) | Ben Lerner (USA) | Hannah Lowe (GBR) | Valzhyna Mort (BLR/USA) | Chus Pato (Galicia/ESP) | Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (NLD) | Marko Tomaš (BIH) | Peter Waterhouse (AUT) | Judith Zander (DEU) | Hosted by: Christian Metz, literary critic (DEU)
Weltklang – Night of Poetry is the opening in many voices of the poesiefestival berlin – this year in video format online. Poets from all parts of the world read, sing and perform in their seven native languages. They show the wealth of contemporary poetry, the diversity of its content, the wide range of its approaches and styles. The German translations will be faded in; many of the poems have been translated into German for the first time for Weltklang.
Ichiko Aoba was born in Japan in 1990 and is a Japanese singer-songwriter, installation artist and producer of theatre music. She writes a kind of Fantasy Folk: ethereal, spartan and intimate. She often gets the inspiration for her complex, image-rich lyrics from the out-of-body experiences in her dreams. Her latest album, Windswept Adan, is, as she herself says, “a soundtrack for a fictitious film”.
Ben Lerner was born in Topeka, USA, in 1979 and became world-famous as a poet for three collections published in quick succession in the Naughties. His poems are unstable structures that intrude into the areas of aeronautics and the sub-atomic. Tech-speak and sociolects feed endlessly into the typical Lerner sound until texts are created on the paper that are as artistic and surprising as high-voltage discharges in insulating material. “This is poetry created from poetry, audaciously written down by an unleashed mind.” (C.D. Wright).
Hannah Lowe was born in Ilford, UK in 1975. She has published two collections of poems, “Chick” and “Chan”. A third, “The Kids”, is forthcoming this autumn. In her work Lowe immerses herself in the world of London jazz clubs and gambling dens. She writes about the legendary magician Chan Canasta, the alto saxophonist Joe Harriott and her Chinese-Jamaican father, who arrived in Liverpool from Kingston in the Forties and supported his family as a professional gambler.
Valzhyna Mort was born in Minsk in 1981 and lives in the USA. She reads from her new book, “Music for the Dead and Resurrected”, which is shortlisted for the prestigious Griffin Prize 2021. The great Polish poet Adam Zagajewski has written about Mort’s work, “These poems are not just moving, but perform the most elementary work of human language. They experience wretchedness, barbarism and unfeelingness at the level of a universal idiom of wisdom and grace.”
Chus Pato was born in Ourense, Galicia, in 1955. Hers is one of the most representative voices in contemporary Galician poetry. Her work goes beyond any traditional concept of poetry. She uses the most different sorts of text to integrate a great many voices – historical as well as fictitious – into her writing. With each one of her books Pato recasts what we think about the possibilities of poetic texts – about words, bodies, the political and literary space and about the construction of ourselves as individual, community, nation, world.
Marieke Lucas Rijneveld was born in Nieuwendijk, the Netherlands, in 1991. Even before gaining world fame with the novel “The Discomfort of Evening” (translated by Michele Hutchison, Faber & Faber, 2020), Rijneveld became known for two collections of poetry. Rijneveld will be reading a selection from these collections. Poems about growing up and the ubiquity of death, about the puzzle of the multisexual snail, about being awry in the world and the urgent recommendation never to blow on the gossamer wings of an African death’s head hawk moth.
Marko Tomaš was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1978 and is one of the best-known poets of the Western Balkan region. His highly political verse, which frequently clothes its sensibility in flippant gestures, has been compared to that of the young Leonard Cohen. In 2020 his novel “Nemoj me buditi” was one of the best-selling books in Croatia. His work is awaiting discovery in German and English.
Peter Waterhouse was born in Berlin in 1956. In his writing, he undertakes nothing less than the attempt at Romantic re-poeticising of the world. For Weltklang he is reading two longer poems. “Memorial” retells the novel “David Copperfield” from the margins by placing an incidental character, the house guest of David‘s aunt, centre stage. “Geht nicht mit dem Wassermann” makes artful play with motifs from Goethe’s forest and water drama “Die Fischerin”.
Judith Zander was born in Anklam in 1980. Her language is allusive and interspersed with particles from pop music and Mecklenburg Low German. In her first collection of poems, “oder tau” she sketches a rural linguistic world of village life, from blood soup to cuckoo spit to the “beer can foothills” at the edge of the village. Her second collection, “manual numerale” seduces the reader along “sneaked-out paths” into an urban world of relaxed March night things. For Weltklang, Zander is reading previously unpublished poems.
Readings in German, Croatian, Dutch, Galician, Belarusian, English and Japanese with German subtitles.
Weltklang – Night of Poetry acknowledges the kind support of the Federal Foreign Office, the Kulturstiftung Schloss Wiepersdorf, the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, the Nederlands Letterenfonds / Dutch Foundation for Literature, the Embassy of the USA and the Austrian Culture Forum.