Berlin Comes to New York This Weekend

Before there was Translationista, there was The Berlin Blog, born of my love for the German capital. I first visited Berlin in early 1992, when the traces of the city’s division were still very much a part of daily life, and soon fell into a pattern of spending at least three months there a year (sometimes all twelve) for the next dozen years. Over that time, I watched the city undergo rapid and radical change. Each time I go back now, I discover more changes, and now there are neighborhoods I hardly recognize.

One place that’s changed relatively little over the years is the wonderful “literature house” Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, located on the shores of a large lake called Wannsee at the edge of town. It’s a writer’s colony and an event space rolled into one, all housed in a beautiful old villa, and I’ve been going to readings and workshops there for years. And now it’s turning 50, and in celebration, the Goethe Institut New York is flying over a handful of Germany’s leading writers to talk about the past half-century of life in Berlin, literary and otherwise, in the company of American writers who’ve spent time in Berlin. I am honored to have been invited to participate in two of the weekend’s events.

The symposium is entitled Shining Island. Here’s the complete program:

SATURDAY, September 28
3:00pm, How American is It? Past, Present, and Future Berlin — Marcel Beyer, Durs Grünbein, Susan Bernofsky.
4:15pm, Still a Two-way Street? New Perspectives on Translation — Jürgen Jakob Becker, Susan Bernofsky, Christian Hawkey, Uljana Wolf.
5:30pm, Parallel Worlds: Berlin and New York, the Literary Affinity of Two Cities — Marcel Beyer, Aris Fioretos, Christian Hawkey, Uljana Wolf.

SUNDAY, September 29
1:00pm, Sunday Papers: Reflections on Poetry and Life — Durs Grünbein, Charles Simic.
2:15pm, What’s with Literary Institutions? Shining Islands and Ivory Towers — Felicitas Hoppe, Karen Russell, Charles Simic.
3:30pm, “Im technischen Zeitalter:” Literature, Technology, and Big Data — Aris Fioretos, Rivka Galchen, Felicitas Hoppe, Charles Simic.


All events are free of charge and will be held at the Goethe Institut’s Wyoming Building at 5 E. 3rd St., just east of Bowery. There’s limited seating, so reservations are strongly encouraged (click here). For more information see the Goethe Institut website.

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