The CROWD is on the move – please make yourself at home!
While others may get by with a little help from their friends, the CROWD Omnibus Reading Tour would not be taking place at all without them. In this portrait series, we would like to introduce you to those who have allowed us to fill in the gaps on the map and bring the whole of Europe together in the name of literature. From May to August 2016, our associated partners will be hosts, havens, and potential life savers for over 100 authors as they snake their way through 15 different European countries and over 40 cities. We asked our partners to tell us about their work in their respective regions; their vision for the CROWD network, and the significance of literature for them both within and beyond Europe’s borders. This is what Tristan Marquardt from the reading series meine drei lyrischen ichs said:
‘Meine drei lyrischen ichs’ (“my three lyrical I’s”), an event series that we have been running in Munich since 2012, has three main aims. First of all, we want to offer a stage to the many exciting new voices around in poetry which are not quite established enough yet for them to be invited to the large literary institutions in Munich. Secondly, we see ourselves as a meeting point for the young literary scene in Munich, which often reflects a certain type of mindset rather than a specific age range. This scene needs to be brought into contact with external voices. What we’ve found to have worked really well in the past is that having conversations about the texts and all other things literary over a beer after a reading often proves to be just as important as the event itself. The events are also a place for people who, like us, consider literature to be a social practice. Thirdly, we aim to give each reading its own space. This is why we work continually with artists who arrange and style the event rooms specifically for a reading and put on an exhibition in a neighbouring space. This has lead to an increased interaction between the different art forms and is also in part due to our wanting to show the variety of ways that texts can be brought to the stage.
What is literary activism supposed to mean? What does this term mean to you?
For us, literature as a social practice means that we are interested in the ways in which a text relates to the present. The question of which texts are going to appear in school books somewhere in 50 years is of little interest to us. We are interested in the writing, reading and discussion about the relevancy of texts insofar as this reveals and reflects something implicit about the social context which they’re conceived in, as well as informing that same context. We want to create spaces to do this in – spaces which are more accessible and free from hierarchical structures than most others in the literary field, but which nevertheless present ambitious works.
What is special about the literary scene in Munich?
For a start, there is an upper-class audience which often congregates in the Academy of Fine Arts, for example, or at award ceremonies where you can usually find quite a few good tidbits on offer. The concept of literature which they preserve there is at least as old as the audience itself. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the circles themselves are often relatively open with regards to activity going on with the younger generation (the under 60s). Otherwise, there is an strangely active Poetry Slam scene which has achieved a lot in the past 20 years and is very open to collaboration. And finally there is the ever growing independent scene for poetry and prose. We are seeing more and more independent reading series, magazines and interdisciplinary art projects. That is also down to the local Department for Culture which a.) has money and b.) actively supports such projects. We are just at the beginning of all that however and some stuff has to happen first…
What are the goals you are aiming at with your project? Are there any objectives you want to accomplish?
We do not believe in a literary landscape which features just a few highly favoured authors. We want to create spaces that allow as many people as possible to express themselves creatively with literature, if they feel it is important for them, and in doing so become better at it (and we aren’t just talking about members of the white educated middle-class such as ourselves either). At a time when expressions of otherness and being other are becoming in themselves ever more dangerous, we consider them not only to be difficult, but also essential. We still have lot of things that need to be worked out as far as this is concerned but we are keen to get stuck in.
What do you expect from CROWD?
Aside from some lovely readings, we are also looking forward to the exchange between the different voices from various European countries and we are excited to hear what you have to tell us. We also want to extend networks and build solidarity.