23 June 2011

Berlin Berliner

Happy hour in Berlin!

Festival opening event, Dichtraum Denkraum, had champagne in U-Ban Brandenberg Tor station with writers writing live [something I can really relate to]. It was followed by Poesiefestival Berlin's official opening with speeches all in German, comp wine and great nibblies in the top floor club room and on the balcony of Akademie de Künste overlooking Pariser Platz on the East Berlin side of Brandenberg Gate: USA and French embassies here, British around the corner, Russian + Aeroflot building on the next bock along Linden..
[A week earlier, 9 June, I was a non-tranferable invitation guest at the Premier of Ontario's Awards for Excellence in the Arts gala at the Liberty Grand Entertasinment Complex in Toronto; and days earlier on Tuesday, 7 June, was a guest at Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick Justice Graydon Nicholas's opening of the NB Provincial Heritage Fair Showcase in his official residence, Old Government House, Fredericton … something of a lalaland gala schedule.]
People in the square costumed as bronze statues, American, German, and Russian military with flags and some lite attempt at a Checkpoint Charlie for the swarms oftourists to pose with, to be photographed with in East Berlin. So many vendors with "I ♥ Berlin" stuff while elsewhere in Berlin I found a different message:

At the meeting of international poetry festivals.

Artist Lawrence Lee (Khui Fatt) in Black Box with his initial pen and ink sketch of me. He wasn't official festival artist but visiting Berlin from Switzerland. He should look into becoming a Poesiefestival Berlin artist-in-residence.

"18 June: Poetry Discussion: Silvio Rodríguez—The other string. Academy of the Arts, Pariser Platz, Club Room. With Silvio Rodríguez, Cuba, and Dieter Ingenschay, Romance scholar, Berlin. Rodríguez is one of the best-known singer-songwriters in Cuba and possibly even in whole Latin America, he was the voice of the Cuban Revolution. Since the 1970s, he has been famous not only for his songs but also for his film scores, his guitar-playing and his political work as a convinced communist. Dieter Ingenschay [was] asking Rodríguez about his poetry, his music and his dream of a rightous Cuba."—from the Poesiefestival Brogram in translation.

New Arabic World traditional poetry to performance poetry to rap: Deeb (Egypt), El Général (Tunisia), Hend Hammam (Egypt), Hind Shoufani (Lebanon), Abdouldaim Ukwas (Libya), moderated by Pyranja Rapperin, journalist (Berlin) at far right.

After the evening readings and tourist street cafes closed we resort to the hotel's Checkpoint piano bar. Here are Berlin publisher, Daniela Seel of Kook Books, and Thomas Möhlmann of the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Breakfast in Berlin—vast buffet at the Maritim proArte Hotel—with smoked salmon, rolmops, sherry herring, cheeses, many multigrain breads, fresh & dried fruits, organic yogurts, eggs, wursts, salamie and other meats, bacon, coffees, teas, great juices and more.

Found in situ poem on a U-Bahn station escalator.

Poetry reading on a boat on the River Spree. This is Catherine Hales (from Surry, England and living in Berlin, not the visual artist Catherine Hale in New Brunswick). This reading not part of Poesiefestival Berlin but part of the simultaneously occuring 48 Stunden Neukölln 13. Kunt- und Kulturfestival with many gallery & opened artist studios.

Eleanor Livingstone (Scotland) and me on the poetry reading boat.

Pricey lobster fest at the hotel. Didn't partake … but in the days after my return to Fredricton I bought three seabugs (weighing 3.3 kg in total) at $5.99/lb for my own happy hummerfest …

Der Bär writing in Dichtraum Denkraum event.

Billy Collins, former USA Poet Laureate, and Ron Winkler, poet and translator, Germany.

Brandenberg Tor at night.

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