One is a CROWD – Mikael Vogel

Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD OMNIBUS Reading Tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist from Berlin looks like, meet Mikael Vogel!

Have you ever participated in collaborative author/reader projects? And if so, what do you find interesting about it? 

No, not with other authors or with readers. I have collaborated with composers and artists, and I did a translation workshop in Paris, I helped Sorbonne students translate poems by Friederike Mayröcker. I have to say that for me writing, and literature in general, is something deeply solitary. Something that comes out of the core of the aloneness we all carry inside of us. And something that, as we encounter it as readers, meets us right there, right where we are deeply alone. Of course on more outward levels of encounters meeting other people is deeply important and interesting to me. But writing is something else completely. You can’t share that.

What is your favorite literary spot in …? (literary venue, bar, meeting area, city, etc.) Please do give us a link to the website of the spot / area.

I do not have a favourite literary spot. Literature to me is utopia – the non-spot. It can be present at a spot, but it would not still be found there if I gave you a link to that place. The muses don’t like to be predicted. You have to catch them just at the right moment in the right place. Then again, I am a very productive author who is only happy while writing, so I can’t say I get aroung around terribly much, and my favourite literary spot would really have to be my desk. My right arm has actually worn not only the paint off, but also parts of the wood. It once belonged to a veterinary who worked with a pharmaceutical company and must have been deeply involved with animal testing. When he died the desk ended up with me and now I write poems on animal testing and intensive livestock farming and extinct and endangered animals on it. It must be haunted, but sorry, no internet link for my desk..

Which recent literary event fascinated you the most and why? (Please give us the link to the website of the event)

I would pick a reading by Robert Macfarlane a couple of weeks ago. He is somebody who sinks his teeth into a topic and doesn’t let go for a considerable number of years until the appropriate book is finished. I like that. There are not that many writers truly exposing themselves to nature topics up to their necks. We talked about more appropriate alternatives to the term nature writing, which doesn’t seem to apply to well anymore, and I suggested biogeographical writing. Actually in the meantime I have started to prefer geobiological writing. To be continued.

How do you feel about readers’ comments and feedback to your texts? Does it affect / alter your subsequent writing?

I feel I am very lucky regarding feedbacks both from readers and from audiences, in that quite many of them open up to me, tell me of their reactions, their emotions, even of life events of theirs – their reactions gets to be very personal, even intimate at times. A mother once spoke to me of how her 17- or 18-year old daughter’s face had been reflecting her own recent first love heartbreak as she had been listening to my poems I had been reading. There have been other reactions I would not share publicly, since I feel they were entrusted to me. Reactions like these finding their way back to the author is just amazing, I think, a present. It is said that true beauty comes from within, and I do think that our innermost reactions to life and people and the world around us, and art and literature, of course, do hold true beauty, so it’s amazing to be allowed to look into another human being in this way. This does not alter my subsequent writing, though. To do that would be false thinking through and through.

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