One is a CROWD – Odile Kennel

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 three questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist living in Berlin looks like, meet Odile Kennel!

To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing” ( Roland Barthes) – Do you see yourself as an author and do you agree with this?

An author is not given to a text. An author gives a text. Or several authors give a text. Somebody has to write it. Of course a text is limited in the moment in which you publish or read it aloud but this is true of every text, with or without a (known) author. No text is final: a text never ends and might be continued, modified, rewritten in every moment. It is only closed for the moment. Considering I cannot pretend I have not grown up in a culture where individuality holds a central place, and even though I am conscious about the fact that the definition of what an author is might change through history, I would consider myself an author. Afterall, others are butchers, bus drivers, teachers, so why not? But for sure I like to play, especially when it comes to poetry translation, with the concept of “original” (the original does not exist) an “translation” (which is another form of original) … I mean, the author question has quite a tradition; and you could write whole books about it (as an author?)

Reading is writing is reading is writing … – why, and if so, how?

In both cases, the text goes on in the mind even when you put your book or paper aside. And there are these almost magic moments when you read something and the reading generates a poem. One line can be like a lighter, giving “fire” to something very distinct that does not even have to have anything to do with the content of the text you were reading. On the other hand, you have moments when you are writing and suddenly remember the words of somebody else: you run to your bookshelves and look desperately for the book you want to reread, and this rereading might animate the writing again. So it is quite a mutual process … Not to forget that you write with all the books you ever read in your life ”inside of you”, and this influence is hard to estimate …

Which literary event fascinated you the most and why? 

poetry rain” over Berlin in August 2010. Thousands of poems were dropped just before the beginning of dawn over Berliner Lustgarten and thousands of people were waiting (it was the “night of open museums”) for the poems to fall down from heaven. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, the poems like murmurations of starlings in the sky, then slowly fluttering down towards the earth. And there: people eager to catch the little papers, as if they were something very precious … and I believe (hope) that people read poems who might never have done so before …

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