On the third day of a week-long tour through Germany with poets Kevin Young, Christian Hawkey, and Matthea Harvey. Matthea's husband (and editor of Jubilat) Rob Caspar is also with us, as well as 4 young German poets (between 27 and 36) who have translated our poems.
Our typical day has been: wake up, have a huge German breakfast (deli meats, rolls, many forms of jam, hard boiled eggs, fruit), then take a train (from Berlin to Leipzig, then Leipzig to Munich, tomorrow it is Munich back to Berlin), check into new hotel, have a nice lunch, explore the city a little, go to the reading around 7, then go out to a big dinner with the people who organized the event.
The Munich reading was in the Lyrik Kabinett. There were about 40 people in attendance. We read sitting down at a table on a stage, with microphones. 4 or 5 people would sit at the table at a time. 2 US poets and 2 or 3 German translators, with a break in the middle.
It's been so energizing hanging out with this group of nine poets, in so many different contexts. We have talked a LOT of poetry, some politics, some music. We've also played chess and poker on the train, laughed a ton. It's nice to hear people's poems on consecutive nights. With each new listen, I hear more and more. I still have some jetlag and am sleeping in pieces. Our hosts have been so kind. I am blown away by the physical spaces that the writing organizations inhabit. The Berlin Literaturhaus is a huge mansion, with offices, a lovely garden, and an exquisite restaurant where regular stylish people (with $) go for a nice meal. It is on a whole other level than anything that I have experienced in the US. It's like the Morgan Library in New York.
Jumping around, last night in Leipzig we met some students of one of the very few creative writing workshops in Germany. There is significant doubt about the worthiness of such an endeavor, but the students seem to be really happy there; they get to go for free, and it is an honor to be selected (20 people selected out of 600 applicants).
Tonight we ate at a place called Cohn's, a Jewish deli in Munich. We have been eating lots of schnitzel and rump steak, but other things too, like giant stalks of white aspragus (which are in season), with thin slices of ham and a butter sauce. Delicious.
More soon from Berlin. xo
Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Other books include The Endarkenment (Pittsburgh, 2008), The Splinter Factory (Manic D, 2002), The Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998), and Alibi School (Manic D, 1995). His poems have...