Category Archives: CROWD Conference

SJ Fowler on the first CROWD conference in Berlin

CROWD – 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 Malsch & 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.


“Quo vadis, world of language?” Evening events on the 23rd and 24th of January 2015

Friday, the 23rd of January and Saturday, the 24th of January, 8pm, free entrance
Lettrétage, Mehringdamm 61, 10961 Berlin

What fascinates us in texts? How do we make literature glow? When does the spark ignite? Quo vadis, world of language?

The self-starting network in the European independent literary scene CROWD invited exciting, impulse giving literary activists from the UK, Serbia, Italy, Latvia, Cyprus, Finland, Austria, the Czech Republic and Iceland to Berlin, to discuss all their different ideas of literature during a two day conference.

During the evening events CROWD will present the Berliner public texts of contemporary authors from all over Europe: Aesthetic fascination and political discussion potential make a diverse picture of contemporary European literature tangible. Texts that pulsate here and today in the truth of the present. Texts that show us why it is worth to formulate again and again literature as an invitation to discuss.

Lily Michaelides (Cyprus), Max Höfler (Austria), Laura Serkosalo (Finland), Ana Pejović (Serbia), Ondřej Buddeus (Czech Republic), Andrea Inglese (Italy/France), Valgerdur Thoroddsdottir (Iceland), Inga Bodnarjuka (Latvia) and Steven Fowler (UK) will read and discuss.

Photo by Ulrike Techert

Corina Bernic

In a statement about her work as a Romanian culture-manager Corina Bernic submited, that the partnership between private and public institutions was negatively affected. The private initiative of young Romanian culture-organizers often failed just for that reason.

Does the collaboration between private and public institutions work well in Germany? How is the situation in other countries? What could be better?

Photo by Privat

Alexander Filyuta – organizer of ausland

ausland is a non-commercially run venue in berlin for music and performance and related public and non-public events. ausland is also a workspace for local, national and international artists and projects.

Alexander Filyuta organizes together with Tobias Herold the series “Lyrik im ausland

Astrid Kaminski wrote in the Berliner Zeitung: The selforganized place of event “ausland” has become one of the favourite pub of contemporary poets. Here party and poetry don’t disagree.

The poetry exhibition “What’s the point of poetry?” trys to give answers to questions like: “What does poetry communicate, what messages and demands do the poets involved have for their societies, and what does the idea of ‘home’ mean to each of them?”

What’s the point if it is nothing of all? Like a rose is a rose is a rose.

Does a poet have responsibility for the society?


Vera Kurlenina: co-worker at Hochroth Berlin

hochroth considers itself a pilot project in the alternative publishers scene.

2014 – Hochroth’s 5th year:

Érica Zíngano with Vera Kurlenina (translation of Odile Kennel) are reading the rosa Version der Bücher “Ich weiß nicht warum”

Hochroth’s 6th birthday at lettrétage

How is it possible to combat the trend of leading publishing houses, which canceled important poetry series?

How can we combine digital and handmade  bookmaking? Is the combination necessary at all?

Photo by hochroth

Moritz Malsch…

… is publisher of Verlag Lettrétage

The publishing house doesn’t want to be avers to new ways of presenting literature, although it sees the “traditional” book as a priority  for now.

Soundout is also a current project of Moritz Malsch. It is the proof, that he is not avers to new ways!   🙂

What are your ideas and new ways of presenting literature?



Amanda DeMarco – New German Fiction

Amanda De Marco (Readux, Germany)

New German Fiction is …

“…Young German writers are heavily influenced by English-language literature, and their daily interactions and media consumption often mix English and German seamlessly. But this is largely a one-way exchange. Translation into English, particularly of contemporary authors, is notoriously lacking—and when it does happen, then often years after the original publication. This contest seeks not only to translate highly deserving texts, but to do so in a timeframe that does justice to the robust evolution of German literary culture. This is about facilitating a conversation, not an echo.”

How could the exchange also between further languages and countries be extended?

Photo by


Jennifer Bode “U30 – New Literature for Berlin”

“U30 – Neue Literatur für Berlin“ was founded at the beginning of 2013 and has always been dedicated to promoting the work of young authors. For each reading, five authors under the age of 30 are selected to present their prose in front of a larger audience.

Elisabeth Botros und Jennifer Bode (v.l.) help young authors and good texts to reach a larger audience.

For those among you, who are proficient in German: Read the whole article

How could talented young people be animated to write and to  publish literary texts? How is it possible for unknown authors to reach an iterested audience – also abroad?

Photo by Johannes Schmitz