A note on: Kakania in Berlin at Lettretage

A brilliant night of performances from contemporary European poets and artists, radically recreating and responding to figure of Habsburg Vienna, around one century past, at Lettretage in Berlin, supported by the brilliant Osterreiches Kulturforum http://www.theenemiesproject.com/kakaniaberlin

I had a blast putting this one together, it ended up being so easy to work with everyone from start to finish and the event was welcoming and dynamic in good measure. The performances ranged from playful poetic texts to tech savvy sound performances, and some conceptual performance too. I admire the work, and the generous personalities, of Lea Schneider, Rike Scheffler, Kinga Toth, Norbert Lange and Fabian Faltin, and they made it something special.

Berlin Camarade: June 23rd at lettretage

Really the hospitality Lettretage had shown me on our first meeting, in early 2015, and the interest I have in so many poets in the city of Berlin, how exciting I think their work is, drove me to put on an extremely ambitious Camarade event in June 2015. Thanks to the generosity of Daniela Seel, I was able to invite poets from different scenes in the city, as well as people I knew and followed, and some British poets visiting. The end result was really one of the better events in the history of the Enemies project, with 28 poets in 14 pairs each presenting really high quality work, with such a variance of style and approach, yet with a palpably shared sense of community and aesthetic. Amazing to have the likes of Cia Rinne, Uljana Wolf, Jeroen Nieuwland, Sam Langer, Alexander Filyuta, Tom Bresemann, Catherine Hales, Max Czollek, Ernesto Estrello, Rike Scheffler & many others involved. It was not one of the easier events to put together, the city not being without it’s literary politics, but the result was worth the labour and for the sheer pleasure of seeing such brilliant poets, some of whom were discoveries to me, in terms of live performance, I could not help but feel humbled by people’s enthusiasm and engagement.  www.stevenjfowler.com/berlin

Lettretage - a conference of literary activists : January 2015

I was properly excited to attend this unique conference of literary organisers and activists, hosted and led by the extraordinary Lettretage - Tom Bresemann, Katharina Deloglu, Moritz Molsch & co, in Berlin, precisely because, absurdly, it seemed wholly focused on the extremely niche thing that I have found myself doing in poetry - that is organisation, curation, innovation, but also something more fundamental than this - the two extensive days of discussion in a room in Kreuzberg were about action. and the possibilities of doing that across Europe, with ambition and energy, while maintaining consideration and ephemeral sensitivity to what literature might be, rather than what it should be.

Lettretage itself is cutting a path for things like the Enemies project. It is doing what I've often inadvertently found myself trying to do. This conference was the best possible example of this, having been around near a decade, Lettretage is now innovating ways to grow and centralise a network of similarly minded people and organisations. They have secured fantastic funding support from creative europe and many others to create a tour of Europe, through their CROWD project and to develop things like an app which will allow visitors to new cities to get 'local' information on readings and performances. Always their emphasis is on the ground up outfits, the artists and curators who are building up from communities and live, contemporary cultures of poetry, literature and performance arts. Rather than shutting up shop after their successes, they are aggressively searching out those who share their mission and their general attitude of openness and innovation.

I have waffled about so many theoretical notions that gel perfectly with their approach, it was genuinely gratifying and made me feel wholly at home visiting them. So I trotted out these ideas again in Berlin - people before poetry, process over product, respect in the world, disrespect in the text... The guerrilla nature of Enemies was brought into sharp focus here, how reactive I am, and how grounded Lettretage and the many other organisers here are in their worlds and communities. I realised London is different place to organise, in a sense wonderful and anonymous and incremental because of its sprawl. The participants here are more rooted, they take responsibility with deeper ties, and all the while they maintain these positions of giving space to mostly avant garde, or contemporary, work and supporting artists while reaching actual people with that work. 

I came across so many artists and organisers I had never met before and felt a genuine kinship with so many of them. I got to know the brilliant Daniela Seel and admire her incredible editorship of Kookbooks, I met the committee from Forumstadtpark in Graz, with the immensely charming Max Hofler leading their poetry program, Andrea Inglese too, who runs Nazione Indiana. Valgerður Þórodds from Reykjavik who has revitalised the poetry scene in Iceland with her ground up, community led, handmade press medgonguljod. Sasha Filyuta, Lily Michaelides & many more - it was such an intense two days, 10 hours of talking and listening back to back, it's not yet really sunk in how the environment was such a gift to someone like me, because really its purpose to was affirm the notion of mindful, self-orientated activity that stakes out the ground of our generations literary spaces. This has always been in my mind curating Enemies, but as an emphemeral notion. Lettretage solidified this idea, gave it back to me in a way.

I'm sure this will be the beginning of many relationships that Lettretage provided me, friendships I would venture to say, and I hope my work intersects with theirs often, for they are lighting a path I want to follow. www.lettretage.de

on the Lettretage Soundout! project longlist

www.lettretage.de/soundout   Really nice to be one of the best losers for this remarkable enterprise in Berlin, pioneering new forms of literary events, alongside friends like Ryan Van Winkle, Iain Morrison, JL Williams and Jorg Piringer. Together we shall cry from the distance of the longlist. http://lettretage.de/soundout/kuenstler/longliste

Iordanis Papadopoulos
Jean Baptiste Cabaud
SJ FowlerSJ Fowler