Three German and three New Zealand poets came together on June 6 at Tolaga Bay to witness the Transit of Venus astronomical phenomenon. They will talk about the inspiration from their transit experiences at public presentations in Wellington this week.
The visiting German poets are Uwe Kolbe, Brigitte Oleschinski and Ulrike Almut Sandig, who worked alongside New Zealand poets Hinemoana Baker, Glenn Colquhoun and Chris Price in Tolaga Bay.
New Zealand host and International Institute of Modern Letters chair Professor Bill Manhire says the poets’ visit offers a unique opportunity for an international exchange of language and culture.
“Poets have always gazed up at the stars, and it will be fascinating to watch how these creative minds spark off each other and to see how an event like the Transit of Venus inspires their work.”
Public events with the poets are:
13 June 2012, 6pm: “Passages – Readings around the Transit” at the Adam Art Gallery Wellington. German and New Zealand poets respond to the Transit of Venus 2012 celebrations at Tolaga Bay, exploring the process of writing about this extraordinary astronomical phenomenon.
14 June 2012, 5pm: “Berlin Poetry Night” at the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington. Listen to the poets from Berlin and to Aurelie Maurin from the Berlin Literaturwerkstatt introducing the ZEBRA poetry film award and the online poetry project. Both events are free.
In October the New Zealand poets complete the exchange by travelling to Berlin to meet up with their German counterparts and to reinterpret each other’s work with the help of translators in a unique cultural exchange.
The poets will then travel to Frankfurt to take part in a programme showcasing New Zealand’s literary and artistic endeavours as part of the Frankfurt Book Fair, where New Zealand is this year’s Guest of Honour.
The exchange is being organised by the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, the Goethe-Institut New Zealand with funding support from the German Foreign Office, the Berlin Literaturwerkstatt and Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters.
German poet biographies
The poet and writer Uwe Kolbe was born in East Berlin in 1957. In 1985 Kolbe travelled in Western Europe and was a visiting lecturer at universities in Austin, Texas and Vienna. Between 1997 and 2002 he was head of the studio of literature and theatre at the University of Tübingen. He lives in Berlin and is one of Germany’s most well-known contemporary authors.
Brigitte Oleschinski studied Political Science in Berlin and worked as a contemporary historian on issues concerning political repression in totalitarian systems. She has worked as a guest lecturer and translator, participated in poetry performances and received major awards. Oleschinski published a poetry collection in 2004. She currently lives in Berlin, working as a freelance writer.
Ulrike Almut Sandig grew up near Dresden. After beginning a degree in journalism, she graduated with a master’s degree in Religious Studies and modern Indian Studies and made extended study trips to India. Author of two poetry collections, radio plays and a collection of stories, she was recently awarded a scholarship to spend time at the Literarisches Colloquium in Berlin.
(Above image: three German poets, Brigette at the front, Ulrike behind and Uwe at the back)