The 22nd poesiefestival berlin starts on Friday


The digital 22nd edition of the poesiefestival berlin starts this Friday. Under the heading There Lies Europe, the Festival will, from 11 to 17 June 2021, be exploring the poetry of Europe in its diversity of forms and languages and despite the pandemic building bridges across the continent. With 150 artists from around 40 countries, the festival website has put together an extensive programme of readings, discussions, concerts and workshops.

Kurt Tucholsky wrote in 1932, “There Lies Europe. What does it look like? Like a colourfully painted madhouse.” Following this motto, the 22nd poesiefestival berlin is taking an ambivalent look at the political, cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe through poetry and its material, language, locating its pain points and finding common denominators.

These thematic nodes of the Festival can be followed in deeper detail even before the start of the Festival in 70 written interviews, essays and anthology contributions, which can be accessed free online.

Even before the Festival starts, all visitors are invited to join in with writing a collective chain poem. Starting from Kurt Tucholsky’s ‘Europa’, visitors can envisage the continent’s various futures in poetry in a shared online document until the end of the Festival.

On 11 June at 7.45 pm, the Festival will be opened by Klaus Lederer, Senator for Culture and Europe of the State of Berlin, and Barbara Gessler, Head of Unit Creative Europe, European Commission, in previously filmed words of welcome. Then at 8 pm Weltklang – Night of Poetry opens the Festival proper with poets from all over the world reading, singing and performing in their native languages. This year they are: Ichiko Aoba (JPN), Ben Lerner (USA), Hannah Lowe (GBR), Valzhyna Mort (BLR/USA), Chus Pato (Galicia, ESP), Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (NLD), Marko Tomaš (BIH), Peter Waterhouse (AUT) and Judith Zander (DEU).

The full programme can be accessed online at The events are accessible via a paywall. Tickets costing € 3 and Festival passes costing just € 19 allow access to the productions from the start of the Festival and then for two months.

Here are the Festival highlights in brief:

FRI 11.6. | 8 pm
In the opening in many voices of the poesiefestival berlin the wealth of contemporary poetry, the diversity of its content, the wide range of its approaches and styles are on display. Poets from all parts of the world read, sing and perform in their native languages. Poetry Talks with the poets, conducted as written interviews, are posted on the Festival website.

SAT 12.6. | from 2 pm
FORUM: Europe’s diversity has no skin
Europe’s wealth of languages is taken as the starting point for approaching the cultural, social and political reality of the continent from a linguistic point of view. Can Dündar gives a lecture on European multiculturalism and multilingualism. The participants invited for the subsequent discussion of ambivalence and the political dimension of multilingualism include representatives of the European Commission. This will be followed by a reading by poets of “small” languages who will also talk about the relationship of their languages to the “big” languages.

SAT 12.6. | 8 pm
Both Mira Mann (DEU) and the music project Rosaceae by Leyla Yenirce (DEU) work aesthetically and in their content with boundaries, figurations of resistance and tonal aspects of the most various structures of dominance. On this evening they will be presenting and discussing their audiovisual productions.

SUN 13.6.–THU 17.6. | 6 pm each evening
Multilingualism in five European regions – Spain, former Yugoslavia, the Baltic, Romania and the Caspian Sea – will come under scrutiny in five events looking at language policy and linguistic nationalism, identity and poetic tradition. To enable a deeper understanding of the topic, written interviews with the writers can be accessed online on the Festival website in the original language and German translation.

SUN 13.6. | 8 pm
Johannes Jansen’s (DEU) Poetry Lecture entitled ‘Ergebnis einer Isolation’ / ‘Outcome of an Isolation’ is a text in 34 prose miniatures, in which a poetics of the state of emergency is drawn up. The Lecture is appearing in German and English translation from Wallstein Verlag.

MON 14.6. | 8 pm
Initiated by the Haus für Poesie, an anthology collecting together 32 Black European poets in German translation is appearing in Summer 2021 from the publisher Verlag Das Wunderhorn. Four of the poets, Johannes Anyuru (SWE), Radna Fabias (NLD), Roger Robinson (GBR) and Victoria Adukwei Bulley (GBR) join editor Fiston Mwanza Mujila (AUT) for a discussion about poetry and the meaning of blackness and read their poems.

TUE 15.6. | 8 pm
In view of the current political situation in Belarus it appears more important than ever to allow Belarusian poets to speak out loud abroad and deepen bilateral ties, especially on levels other than the political one.
Six German-language poets and six Belarusian poets are submerging themselves into the poetically and culturally rich and courageous verse of their counterparts to “smuggle” each others’ lines into the other language and cultural context with the aid of gloss translations and language mediators.

WED 16.6. | 8 pm
While acceptance of non-heteronormative sexualities and identities is growing in many countries of Europe, social and political discrimination is elsewhere on the increase.
Queer poets – Jay Bernard (GBR), Eduard Escoffet (ESP), Judith Kiros (SWE), Jacek Dehnel (POL), Anna Hetzer (DEU) and Ricardo Domeneck (BRA) –talk about bodies, poetry and identity.

THU 17.6. | 8 pm
Poets Yoko Tawada (JPN/DEU), Marion Poschmann (DEU), Ursula Krechel (DEU), Ulf Stolterfoht (DEU) and Jan Wagner (DEU) read their work in an installation by Chiharu Shiota (JPN & DEU). Musicians respond to this poetry and interact with it so that the art forms which have been separated in the pandemic come back together again.

FRI 11.6.–THU 17.6.2021
22nd poesiefestival berlin
online at

Tickets: € 3, Festival Pass: € 19
The prices for Poetic Education may vary.
Representatives of the press, please get your accreditation at

Every summer, Berlin is transformed for ten days into a stronghold of poetry. 150 poets from around the world come to the poesiefestival berlin and present current trends in contemporary poetic art. The Festival enables poetry to be experienced in all its diversity of forms and welcomes up to 13,000 visitors each year. As in 2020 already, the Festival will be taking place online this year.

The 22nd poesiefestival berlin is a project by the Haus für Poesie in cooperation with the Academy of Arts. Funded by the Capital Cultural Fund and the Federal Foreign Office. It gratefully acknowledges the kind support of the Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG and the Goethe-Institut. Presented by Der Freitag, taz, BÜCHERmagazin, tip Berlin/ EXBERLINER, rbbKultur, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, ASK HELMUT and SINN UND FORM.