Modern Poetry Encounters an Object of History

The Jewish Museum Hosts “Lyrix”

Logo of the "lyrix" competitionAt the invitation of German Cultural Radio, schoolchildren appeared at the Jewish Museum Berlin on 13 June 2014 to write poetry with professionals from the literature scene. The theme was partnership. They turned for inspiration to a ketubah (marriage contract) from the current special exhibition “The Creation of the World” and the poem “marriage” by Kathrin Schmidt (which you can see in the original German on the Lyrix page of the radio’s website).

Poet Max Czollek guided the students, gathered in a seminar room, to free associate with the term ‘partnership.’ Words came up like marriage, devotion, trust and love (both very frequently), loyalty, and so on. But those most obvious associations aren’t actually what we need for poetry. What do we need then?

A few rooms further down, poet Nadja Küchenmeister proceeded along the same lines. One pupil said later that dividing the words into categories of ones she shouldn’t use and ones she should helped ease her fear about writing. She produced the following poem:  continue reading


Where Would You Go?

During the week of October 21 to 27, 2013 the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books have already been introduced here over the course of the last weeks.
Multifaceted books for children and young adults
At a first glance, Janne Teller’s book looks like a passport – it’s just that small and, with just 32 pages, not much thicker. The text begins with a question: “If a war were to break out here. Where would you go?” I had never asked myself this question before. And yet, with her simple but poignant sentences Teller paints a powerful picture of a war in Germany, the flight of a family through a number of countries and their subsequent life in a refugee camp, as well as telling the story of a new generation growing up in Egypt.  continue reading


Gaggalagu

Linguistic Entanglements in the Animal Kingdom

During the week of October 21 to 27, 2013 the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books will be introduced here over the course of the next few months.
Multifaceted books for children and young adultsWith strange combinations of letters on the feathers, fur, and skin of different animals who stand lost upon a map: I was so drawn to the cover picture of Gaggalagu that I instantly reached for it in our reading group.

Released in 2006 by kookbooks, through a publisher that until now I only associated with volumes of poetry for adults, it is very appealingly and elaborately designed. It was a surprise to learn that this little press also publishes children’s books. Before this, I had also never heard of the author, Michael Stavarič, and the illustrator, Renate Habinger, was new to me as well.  continue reading