The first time I've attended the Poetry Society annual lecture, given by Jan Wagner at Kings College, after a short national tour. I met Jan for the first time in Berlin, travelling there as a tourist many years ago, having barely written much, just emailing him from nowhere really. He came to meet me, showed me around Berlin, was immensely hospitable and generous to me. Such things are not to be taken lightly, the gesture belying his great humanity, humility and talent. His lecture was really remarkable, rang powerfully true to me. Over an hour in length in covered enormous ground so i don't wish to do it a disservice by merely focusing on a few likely misunderstood or misrepresented points but his deft exploration of influence, how we carry our poetry forebears and heroes with us, where this becomes lost in our work, though still present in our own minds, is very important to me, having written of those who hold such sway over me often (Mayakovsky, Pessoa, Hollo, Raworth, Salamun and co). What I should say rather than recounting the lecture, soon to be published in the Poetry Review and available as an audio file, is that it seemed to me represent Jan as what I aspire to be - a human being working through life with poetry, and not the other way around. Not a poet working through being a human being. Though our work is markedly different, though I share his passion for form (I have no gift for it), I feel an immense kinship with his method, his contextual sensitivity and his sure sense of lineage and deep reading. Moreover he is an immensely decent person, and this is enormously important, fundamental to what I deem a necessary modern turn we should seek in connecting poetics and ethics. I would recommend those interested seek out his book from Arc publishing too, https://www.arcpublications.co.uk/books/jan-wagner-self-portrait-with-a-swarm-of-bees-532 It is no small thing too that the Poetry Society choose a European poet to give this lecture too, the first time since its inception I'm told, an important and marked thing at this time in our island's political climate.
7.30pm at Österreichisches Kulturforum Berlin kulturforum berlin: kulturforumberlin.at
ree Entry - May Monday 9th 2016
Stauffenbergstraße 1, 10785 Berlin. T: +49 30 202 87-114 E: berlin-kf (at) bmeia.gv.at
Very happy to announce that the Kakania project will debut in Berlin, with six new literary performance commissions from contemporary artists, each of whom will present a work that celebrates / responds to a figure from the Habsburg era. The event is free to attend if you're in Berlin, please share with friends in the city if you're not http://www.theenemiesproject.com/kakaniaberlin
Book your place here: http://www.kulturforumberlin.at/veranstaltung/kakania/
Max Höfler on Ludwig Wittgenstein
Maja Jantar on Lou Andreas Salome
Stephen Emmerson on Rainer Maria Rilke
Tomomi Adachi on Josef Matthias Hauer
Ernesto Estrella on Gustav Mahler
Ann Cotten on Otto Neurath
This is the first of two Kakania events that will take place in Berlin in 2016, supported by Österreichisches Kulturforum Berlin and follows six events, a symposium, two publications and over fifty new artist commissions in London from 2014 to 2016 thanks to the Austrian Cultural Forum. www.kakania.co.uk
There has been no one city's culture, at one singular time in modern history, more widely influential on contemporary thought than that of Habsburg Vienna a century ago. A time so densely constituted with intellectual revolution in fields as diverse as poetry, fiction, journalism, music, composition, philosophy, psychology, art … that it seems it can often only be evoked through a wistfulness that belies the melancholy, the energy and the seismic change that constituted it.
With Kakania, decidedly contemporary, avant-garde, original works of text and art are presented in an attempt to be as complex and genre testing as the works, and the people, they are responsive to. This is a project where the past, and our understanding of it, is not be refracted through historical analysis, but the creative process, and one that is utterly contemporary. Kakania is an opportunity for audiences to discover the Habsburg era in a wholly new guise, as our era.