Fokus Lyrik is one of the biggest German poetry festivals and conferences ever organised. 126 poets over 4 days. Loads of panels through the days and events in the evening. I was offered a chance to perform on the opening night and did a mostly improvised powerpoint presentation. During the performance I ate some flowers. All is well in the heart of Europe.
It turned out to be a huge audience. I put a lot of pressure on meself by doing a performance that mostly improvised. I found myself thinking, in the moments leading up to my own, after many speeches and being later in the order, why do I do this? And this informed what I said, as well as some local research and stealing from conversations I had with others who were in the room so I could show off to them and they alone would know I had done so. This is the code, the private joke motivation.
Previously in Germany I’d found warm receptions but also a kind of false frankness, honesty as though it were a virtue so powerful that one must affect honesty, and be rude, saying things that are not more true than niceties, misunderstanding general manners. This did not happen here. Everyone, pretty much, was remarkably generous. Though it was particularly German for so many of them, given that I genuinely conjured this performance from research coupled with steel nerves and reaching into my own neck, to mention the flowers. Flowers can be toxic, these flowers look toxic, you will be sick, you might die. It was weird. I puked them up even though I felt completely fine.
The rest of the festival was really smooth, the people running it couldn’t have been more nice. I saw some poets I really admire, and reunited with some old friends. Everything was in German though and because I’m an idiot it was therefore mostly lost on me. oh well, still a highpoint to be invited. Great to be able to work in Europe at these big things as though I were big. All thanks to Monika Rinck and Tristan Marquardt for inviting me. / It was held on Thursday, 7 March, 8 pm 2019 and called The Ideal Opening – a Phantasm in Five Voices Venue: Evangelische Akademie Frankfurt, Römerberg 9 With: Steven J. Fowler, Barbara Köhler, Prof. Dr Christiane Voss, Magnus William-Olsson and Angelika Niescier https://www.fokuslyrik.de/english