Country focus at the 21st poesiefestival berlin is on Canada

Anne Carson and Canadian-German VERSschmuggel/reVERSible


In spite of corona, the poesiefestival berlin (5–11 June) is still managing to put its country focus on Canada even in its new form as an online festival. The two big Canadian events, the Berlin Poetry Lecture by Anne Carson and the Canadian-German VERSschmuggel / reVERSible, are taking place – albeit under quite different conditions than originally planned.

Anne Carson: Berlin Poetry Lecture

The internationally renowned Canadian writer Anne Carson, like all foreign participants, is unable to travel to Berlin – but that’s no reason to cancel the Berlin Poetry Lecture! The author has been sent a microphone and is recording her lecture.

SUN 7 June | Première 7.30 pm
Dreizehn Blickwinkel auf einige Worte
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Short Talk

Anne Carson’s (born in 1950 in Toronto, Ontario) Poetry Lecture (the title alludes to Wallace Stevens’ poem ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’) comprises thirteen short mini-talks in which Carson goes on poetological and philosophical forays into the worlds of Antiquity and her own childhood. Taking as an example a poem fragment dating from Sparta in the 7th Century BCE she demonstrates how poetry can come from an error and how metaphors teach us to revel in the error. Readers can find out about Ovid in his exile, about Hegel’s relationship with grammar and about his sister’s suicide, as well as about the mythic quality of white bread, the physical characteristics of emus and the idiosyncratic habit of llamas of humming to greet their new offspring. In passing answers are given to such vital questions as: is it really true that dead people walk backwards? And: what is the best place on the body to put a third arm?

Project Manager: Matthias Kniep

The Lecture will be given in English, with German translations available.

Deutschlandfunk Kultur will be broadcasting the Lecture on 14 June at 10.03 pm.
Dreizehn Blickwinkel auf Einige Worte / Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Short Talk is being published for the event by Wallstein Verlag in English and German (translated by Anja Utler) at € 13.90.

The Berlin Poetry Lecture 2020: Anne Carson is being kindly supported by the Embassy of Canada, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and Guest of Honor Frankfurter Buchmesse.


How do you organise a mammoth translation project between Germany and Canada in three languages during a world-wide pandemic? This year’s VERSschmuggel / reVERSible proves that it can be done, even in a virtual space. 18 authors and nine language mediators will be working together in various groupings translating between two of the three languages French, English and German. The authors will then record their results in mobile phone vertical format. VERSschmuggel / reVERSible will showcase the results with a presenter, split-screen and workshop interviews.

SAT 6 June | Video readings | Première 7.30 pm
Canadian Poetry / Poésie du Québec / Dichtung aus Deutschland

With poets Martine Audet (CAN), Monique Deland (CAN), Adam Dickinson (CAN), Daniel Falb (DEU), François Guerrette (CAN), Nancy Hünger (DEU), Aisha Sasha John (CAN), Maren Kames (DEU), Natasha Kanapé Fontaine (CAN), CanisiaLubrin (CAN), Tristan Malavoy (CAN), Pierre Nepveu (CAN), Kerstin Preiwuß (DEU), Sandra Ridley (CAN), Lisa Robertson (CAN), Armand Garnet Ruffo (CAN), Levin Westermann (DEU), Ron Winkler (DEU) – Presenter: Karolina Golimowska, literary scholar and translator

The focus of this year’s VERSschmuggel / reVERSible is on poetry from Canada and Québec. Six poets from the German-speaking countries will meet with six Canadian poets writing in French and six writing in English and each will be entering into the rich poetic and cultural vein of their counterpart’s poetry. The poems will be “smuggled” across the linguistic border with the aid of gloss translations into the other languages and cultural contexts. All the poets involved in the project will be working with all three languages, which means that not only will the poetic worlds on the opposite shores of the Atlantic be coming into contact but also those within Canada. The reading in three languages reflects the working process and the “chain” of poetic voices created for it and the renderings of the poems that come about as a result.

The anthology for the event will be appearing in October 2020, published jointly by Das Wunderhorn Verlag, Le Noroît and Book*hug Press.

With the assistance of language mediators Irina Bondas, Lydia Dimitrow, Roland Glasser, Anneke Lubkowitz, Alexandre Pateau, Lilian Maria Pithan, Katja Roloff, Raguel Roumer and Joel Scott

Curated by: Rike Bolte, Paul Bélanger, Hazel Millar and Karolina Golimowska
Project management: Karolina Golimowska | Alma Magdalene Knispel (assistant)

VERSschmuggel/reversible. Canadian Poetry / Poésie du Québec / Dichtung aus Deutschland is being kindly supported by the Embassy of Canada, the Québec government delegation in Germany and Guest of Honor Frankfurter Buchmesse.

The poesiefestival berlin has been taking place since 2000 and is the biggest of its kind in Europe. As well as the book, poetry has long sought other forms of presentation and experiments with theatre, performance, music, dance, film and digital media. The festival enables poetry to be experienced in all its diversity of forms and welcomes up to 13,000 visitors each year. For the first time in its 21-year history, it is taking place as a purely online festival.

The 21st poesiefestival berlin is a project by the Haus für Poesie. Funded by the Capital Cultural Fund and with the kind support of the Federal Foreign Office, the Government of Canada, the Embassy of Canada to Germany, the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie du Québec, the Québec Government Office in Germany, as well as Federal Agency for Civic Education. Presented by Der Freitag, taz, BÜCHERmagazin, tip Berlin, rbbKultur, ASK HELMUT, iHeartBerlin, EXBERLINER and Deutschlandfunk Kultur.

FRI 5 – THU 11 June 2020
21st poesiefestival berlin: Planet P
Online Edition #planetpgoeson