Poesiefestival Berlin 2013

imagePoesiefestival Berlin: What an amazing festival!  I was only there for a few days, but in that short space of time I met so many extraordinary poets from around the world… many of these poets also working as the festival directors, publishers and editors helping to keep poetry alive and well in their countries.  Two of my favourite events were this one:

Tibor Szemzö Tractatus – Multimedia-Performance

and this one:

HOME-EXIT/HOME (1): Breyten Breytenbach and Adam Zagajewski

I met the French poet Jean-Baptiste Cabaud and heard about his phenomenal work with poetry, music and film… check out one project here: Saint Octobre.  I caught up with Tadeusz Dąbrowski, a Polish poet who I had the chance to interview at the SPL last year (podcast coming soon!), and finally met Nikola Madzirov, a Macedonian poet I’ve been hearing wonderful things about for ages… and he’s just as wonderful as everyone says!   I spent time with poets Chris McCabe and Bea Colley from the Poetry Library and Southbank Centre in London, and we shared in the beautiful sunny poetical delights in pollen-drenched, bird song-echoing Berlin.  Fellow Shearsman poet and translator Catherine Hales very kindly helped translate some of the German poetry for me on the first night of the festival, and overall I was humbled and awed by what seemed to be everyone else’s mastery of at least three languages… how silly to only know one!  Note to self, things to do: learn five other languages, write a novel, write 20 more poems, do some yoga, etc. etc.  I feel so lucky to have made all these new connections and look forward to continuing inspiration from these new poetry friends.  Dankeschön Poesiefestival Berlin! 

PS Guess who came into the Poetry Library today?  Stephen Burt!  If you don’t know Stephen, check him out — he’s totally awesome.  Plus, he had glittery nail polish on.  Hero!  Also, he was here in Edinburgh being IN a TED talk.  As in, being one of the TED speakers.  Read about it here: STEPHEN BURT at TED (video to come soon).  How cool is that?  I bought his new book, Belmont, hot off the press from Graywolf, and he very kindly bought one of mine.  Sweet.

By jlwpoetry

Books by JL Williams include Condition of Fire (Shearsman, 2011), Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), House of the Tragic Poet (If A Leaf Falls Press, 2016), After Economy (Shearsman, 2017) and Origin (Shearsman, 2022). Published widely in journals, her poetry has been translated into numerous languages. She has read at international literature festivals and venues in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Turkey, Cyprus, Canada, Hungary, Romania, Montenegro and the US. She wrote the libretto for the opera Snow which debuted in London in 2017, was awarded a bursary to develop a new opera with composer Samantha Fernando at the Royal Opera House and was a librettist for the award-winning 2020 covid-response Episodes project by The Opera Story. Williams curates writing events and creates workshops and professional development activities for poets. She is hopeful about the simple and mysterious power of poetry that allows us to know ourselves, each other and the world more deeply.

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