Poetry under Pressure
Date: 24/25 May 2012
We have invited to Cardiff University two poets from Germany, to explore with us the multi-facetted concept of “Poetry under Pressure”. Uwe Kolbe and Richard Pietraß have been poets writing in remarkable circumstances: they were writing, editing and translating poetry behind the Iron Curtain in the GDR; today they are poets writing in the contemporary Berlin Republic; they also wrote during the pressured era of transition between those two cultural contexts.
Germany, at the heart of Europe, has a cultural history full of pressures and fissures of various kinds. It also has a rich lyric tradition, which like the country’s cultural history, deserves to be better known in the UK. We hope that our visiting poets will allow us to bring that history and culture alive for a British audience.
Two open public events in Cardiff
The Poetry Reading
Date: 24 May 2012, 19:00-20:30
Location: Media Point, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Reading of Pietraß's 'Ophelia'
The German poets Uwe Kolbe and Richard Pietraß will be giving a public reading from their works, with new translations made over the preceding months. This reading aims to present specially selected poems which in some sense have been produced under pressure and highlight the range of these poets. We will make them accessible to a Cardiff arts audience by accompanying them both with an introduction to the writing and circumstances of Kolbe and Pietraß and also with translations into English and into Welsh. The translations have been made by Mererid Hopwood, Karen Leeder, David Clarke and Ruth Owen. All welcome.
- "Pressure! What Pressure?" An introduction by Gerrit-Jan Berendse: Slides and Text
- BBC Wales radio coverage
The Public Colloquium
Date: 25 May 2012, 10:00
Location: Room 2.18, 65-68 Park Place, Cardiff
Interview and Talks
We will interview the two poets about their roles in the various German cultures they have experienced. We will be talking about cultural policy, about poetry and censorship, about poetry magazines, urban poems, and poetry translation. In addition, there will be short talks from two invited speakers, from Birmingham and from Oxford respectively, one focussing on censorship in the GDR and the other on translating German poetry. There will also be a book presentation concerning memory of the GDR. This event is especially aimed at schools, book group members, and those keen to know more about the background to the poetry performed at the reading. A free buffet lunch will be provided afterwards. All welcome.
- “Poetry under Pressure” Interview with Uwe Kolbe und Richard Pietraß by Gerrit-Jan Berendse & Ruth Owen, Cardiff University
- “Dichten: GDR Poetry and the Pressure of Translation” 15-20 minute talk by Karen Leeder, University of Oxford
- “Whose text is it anyway? Writing, censorship and the Stasi” 15-20 minute talk by Sara Jones, University of Birmingham
- “The Politics of Remembering the GDR” by David Clarke, University of Bath
Audience questions welcome.
Two workshop events in Cardiff
Translation Students' Workshop
Date: 24 May 2012, 10:00-12:00
Location: Room 2.22, 65-68 Park Place, Cardiff
For MA Translation students. Supervised by Prof Alexis Nuselovici. The aim of the workshop is to produce new versions in a wide variety of languages based on two short poems by our visiting poets – “Notausgang” by Richard Pietraß and “Daß ich so bin” by Uwe Kolbe. The poets will read their poems aloud and participants without German will be able to use prose cribs prepared by MA student Alison Mewes to get a sense of the meaning, in order to create translations in their native languages that function as poems.
Date: 25 May 2012, 15:00-17:00
Location: Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
The poets from Germany will be joined by poets in Wales for a round-table workshop. The aim is to discuss their shared and differing conceptions of poetry under pressure. We will be discussing different experiences of marginalisation and cultural hegemony in the GDR, in Germany today and in Britain. The workshop is an opportunity to develop cross-European dialogues about the place of poetry and the conditions of its production and reception. The workshop is open to Wales-resident poets writing in English and Welsh and to our translators of the German poets. This event will be chaired by Mererid Hopwood, National Eisteddfod Chair, Crown and Literature medal winner for poetry. By invitation only.
Responses to the events
The Pressure Pot, by Richard Pietraß
When the invitation to Poetry under Pressure popped into my inbox, my heart leapt
and my 100-kilo body sprang to the ceiling. At last a topic that was electrifying,
because it matched my life’s experience and promised, like poetry itself does,
to release pressure pent-up in the pot. Talking about this with students at the
School of European Languages, Translation & Politics, as well as with Welsh
poets, promised to expose the roots of all poetry.
Two days in Cardiff, by Uwe Kolbe
"Two days are nothing. Two days are a world. My experience in Cardiff suggests
as much. The four events on 24th and 25th May 2012, to which Richard Pietraß
and I were invited, as two remarkably different representatives of German language
poetry from an East German background, constituted a world in this
sense. They were conceived in their variety as opportunities for us as both
participants and protagonists."
Laura - a Cardiff resident
Sally - a student of translation
Grace - a local school pupil
Rhys Trimble - a Welsh poet