Urban Poetry Lab – New forms of literature on the river Volga

A project by Barbara Anna Bernsmeier

Host organization: Agency for Cultural Initiatives of the Volgograd Region

June 2015, various venues in the urban space of Volgograd (Russia)

How does the urban space and the genesis of literature interact with each other? How can a collective text be written? And with which forms of performing literature can we experiment? These questions were the framework of a series of workshops with the three poets and writers Josefine Berkholz (Leipzig), Tillmann Severin (Leipzig/Berlin) and Lena Vöcklinghaus (Berlin). For 10 days they were working intensively with young writers, poets, translators and other artists from Volgograd and Volshsky. Together they explored the area of an abandoned spirit factory in the city district Tulaka and afterwards developed a common, collective text. The subject lines, constellation of characters and myths were tightly woven to the place of the factory. At the final reading and performance the German and Russian poets performed together in an abandoned former factory building. An old soviet amphitheatre in a court yard was used for an event in the format of an „Open Mike“: Volgograd poets, the German guests as well as the audience read out own poems and short stories.

The poet and singer Lydia Daher from Augsburg visited the festival as well. Together with students of German philology she held the workshop „Poetry flows“, where the students made first tries in writing poems in German. The final event took place on a steamboat on the river Volga. The students performed their poems. Afterwards, Lydia Daher performed together with the Electro-Band Microwave Popcorn from Volzhsky – as a result the audience could enjoy a completely new symbiosis of performance, reading and concert.

With support from: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany in the framework of the year of German language and literature in Russia 2014/2015, Goethe-Institut Moskau, Robert Bosch Stiftung

pictures: Elena Zimina