What is the relationship between reader and author in a digital age which blurs the borders between the two? How can literature be political today in the Anthropocene? These and others questions will be addressed during the international symposium Text-World–World-Text. Tonight will be the first of two evenings of lectures, performances and readings from more than 20 authors. Here I want to introduce some of them to you in juxtaposition.
#Shade 1: Poetics and Politics
Álvaro Seiça: Literary strategies can look like this question: Can we write engaged poetry without being bitterly obvious?
Clemens Schittko: That’s really a difficult question. If there was a strategy, it would probably be the best to stop writing. For me writing only works if you do not know what the whole boils down to. Only then it can be dangerous to the established system.
Jenan Selçuk: (I am) no one significant. Have been infected and cursed by poetry for many years now.
I consider myself as an interpreter. Observing, interpreting and translating the languages of nature into languages that could be understood by human beings.
SJ Fowler: If I have to answer, and briefly, then I’d simply say there are interactions and disputes between politics and people, politics and culture, politics and language. Poetry is a tiny, all but irrelevant part of these interactions and disputes. … My opinion then, following from this, is that a strategy for change with literature is about people over poetry, process over product, context over content. That’s why I think organising collaborations with poets from all over the world, organising readings and projects – this is a political act that actually is inclusive and positive and makes changes. Others talk of being political with poetry, being liberal, with an ethics based on empathy, and then they isolate many humans who happen not to share their exact political opinion, and cause divisions and bitterness and fallout. So I’m interested in real space.
#Shade 2: Heritage. Who do you listen to?
Alexander Micheuz: I like authors who try hard to invent new forms and poetics while recognising exactly how difficult this is because they are deeply aware of the long history of literature, language and writing but at the same time they don’t care too much about all that. I hope this makes some sense. Or not.
Margento: Then the tradition of performance poetry from Sappho to John Chrysostom to Beowulf to Romanus the Melodist to Shakespeare to Dosoftei to Dimitrie Cantemir to Hopkins and Swinburne to Browning and Whitman to Tristan Tzara and Eugene Ionesco to the Beats and Jerome Rothenberg and David Antin to John Cage and Jackson Mac Low to contemporary inter/new/poly-media, (post)digital, and computational poetry.
Kinga Tòth: To have an effect on all of the senses, that is what I understand ‘text’ to do. For me, text is something alive, an organism, which has different forms, like written letters, visual contours, sounds, and a live existence – for example a performance. The sounds that I produce sometimes hurt. It is about opening up the body to the right sound, about reaching and communicating with the other. In my different concepts and projects I try to present different worlds and this requires a different “behavior” or face from the author, or rather, a different function. Each of my texts/products has a typed text format, a sound and a visual format and me as an author or a channel, but each project works with different aims and asks different questions.
#Shade 3: To be or not to be: Number the author by reader
Stefanie Sargnagel: All of my texts came about through social media. I wouldn’t write at all if it wasn’t for speaking to a direct audience. I feel kind of autonomic from the literacy scene, art world or journalists because of that.
Ulrich Schlotman: If you think about or even interact with “the reader”, then something might be rotten in the state of Denmark – word!
Chris Tanasescu: Therefore, in spite of the financial disparity, the author-reader relationship is perhaps a more natural one in Romania (where there is an actual readership beyond academe, in spite of the customary shoe-string budgets and often chronically flawed distribution) than in the US and North America in general.
Jaap Blonk: I think direct political statements cannot be literature. The emancipatory and even revolutionary content has to be a matter of the structure of the work. A long time ago I wrote a paper at the University of Amsterdam criticising the tradition of anarchist writers for their clinging to an hierarchical way of thinking, along the lines of strict traditional logic where yes and no are mutually exclusive. We should allow anarchism into our thinking and into the structure of writing, as many modern poets have shown to be possible.
All discussions and performances can be seen LIVE via our live stream direct from Forum Stadt park: Click here to watch live…