By Rachel Clugston
The bilingual reading event Transatlantisches Wetterleuchten hosted by The English Room featured the American poets Mary Jo Bang and Kevin Prufer, as part of the Leipzig Book Fair.
To a packed and attentive audience, both poets read from their latest anthologies: Prufer “Wir wollten America finden” and Bang, “Eskapaden”. Both anthologies are published by luxbooks, featuring each poem in both the original English and German translation. Prufer, currently Professorof English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, is an acclaimed author and academic, being recognised with three Pushcart Prizes and Best American Poetry 2010. Bang, herself a Pushcart Prize recipient, is also deeply engaged in teaching as Professor of English at Washington University (St. Louis), having 6 books published with individual poems appearing in journals such as The Paris Review, The New Yorker,The New Republic, Yale Review, Denver Quarterly, Best American Poetry.
Prufer selected the poems “National Anthem”, “Love Poem”, and “Inner beautiful country”, before reading from extended apocalyptic narrative poems “The moon is burning” and “The enormous parachute.” Bang took some poems from her “Bride of E” collection, featuring “a is for all of a sudden”, “C is for Cher”, and “E is for everywhere”, before delving into reflections of german painter Sigmar Polke’s “Catastrophe theory, 4,3,2″. She finished with the intriguing “Beneath the din” from her much acclaimed ‘Elegy’ collection of poems.
As a bilingual event, the audience had the rare and valuable experience of hearing these poets in both languages. Prufer also read the German version with as much passion as in his mother tongue. Later he admitted that his connection to Germany was strong, with his father being German. He also lived for a year in Berlin, during high school. Apart from that exposure, his interest in the language has been deepened through the reading of his work in translation. The nature of Prufer’s apocalyptic and tense imagery in evaluating the place of America within the world, and the variant ‘Americas’ within itself was uncompromising. At times shocking and tender, the crispness of Prufer’s poetry reveals a search for an America beyond bland consumerism and militant righteousness. Bang’s works had an appealing intellectual intensity as she played with low and high culture, the boundaries of perception, and the constraints of time becoming elastic in her profoundly philosophical reflections.
The evening finished with ongoing and informal discussions of the poems featured, in the comfortable ambience of The English Room, a venue that is committed to supporting English speaking cultural events.
Yet another Buchmesse event for you!
The exhibition will run from 18.03 – 20.03, opening times 14:00 – 20:00 daily.
Hello – more news from the world of books and art!
The Leipzig International Artists Programme will be hosting a range of fabulous events this coming Friday, including readings from Slovenian authors, at the Spinnerei!
There will also be a guest performance by Dalibor Cikojević; (Virtuoses, Muses and Striptease) and Slovenian wine and Potica cake will be served.
And – if all that isn’t enough, there will also be a chance to check out the art currently being created at LIA. Open studios will take place after the readings.
Here is a note from Anna-Louise Kratzsch, the director of LIA
“During the Leipzig Book Fair there will be Slovenian readings, presented
by the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia Berlin. Open Studios will take
place after the readings. Slovenia is considered to be the country of
poets. In Slovenia the most famous historic figures are not kings or
statesmen but Primož Trubar, founder of Slovenian literature, the poet
France Prešeren and the writer Ivan Cankar. In LIA you are invited to
experience the next generation of Slovenian authors: Miha Mazzini, Stanka
Hrastelj und Tadej Golob, three young writers who could hardly be more
This event is organized by the Slowenian Book Agency and the Embassy of
the Republic of Slovenia Berlin. Many thanks to the BMW Plant Leipzig for
their kind support of our cultural programme.”
When: Friday, March 18th, 8 pm
Where: LIA: Spinnereistraße 7, Hall 18, 1st floor
Authors: Miha Mazzini, Tadej Golob, Stanka Hrastelj
Moderation: Dr. Boštjan Dvořák
Aika Furukawa, Tokyo Japan
Marjolijn de Wit, Fonds BKVB Amsterdam
Lorenza Diaz, Christoph Merian Stiftung Basel
Aurélie Pétrel & Laurent Proux, École nationale des beaux-arts de Lyon/
Stadt Leipzig Referat Internationale Zusammenarbeit