Saturday, 6 October 2012

Berliner Luft

Berliner Luft, that special air, atmosphere of a city that never seems to stop reinventing itself. If it is still the embodiment of 20th century European history, it now seems to be showing how to make a 21st century European capital liveable. We are in a studio apartment in trendy Prenzlauer Berg where every second doorway seems to be the entrance to a shop, cafe, gallery or maybe a psychiatrist's rooms ... Or astrologers. Kids everywhere and this Kieze is said to have highest birth rate in Europe. Berliner Luft.

In London last Saturday, Diane and I gave our party pieces at a NZ Studies Network symposium at Birkbeck College and the Wakefield literary tradition narrative in prose and poetry both seemed to go down well. Audience of 12 seemed mostly expats whom we got to know better at El Paradiso in Goodge Street afterwards.

Last night, at the Literaturwerkstatt here in Berlin, we enjoyed the 'Transit of Venus' poetry performance as part of the 'While you were sleeping' Programme attached to NZ@Frankfurt, three German poets who had visited NZ to witness the transit at Tolaga Bay in the company of Glenn Colqhoun, Hinemoa Baker and Chris Price. They read poems prompted by the experience in their own language and in translation,  a crossover of language, ideas and metaphor that was intriguing and entertaining although it was hard to perceive any narrative arc or sequence. For the aficionado which may explain the small turnout of only 20. Glenn C's performance was indeed that and garnered the most applause, as did Hinemoa's moving waiata. The overall impression given was that NZ culture is driven by a Maori or at least bi-cultural imperative. During the discussion Glenn C was almost apologetic that NZ has no history compared to Berlin (!). And I thought the cultural cringe was dead.

On Unity Day (3rd) we caught up with old friends in Potsdam and then walked through glorious Sans Souci Park, a sunny summer's day belied only by the first flush of autumn leaves and conkers showering everywhere from the horse chestnuts... Better go ... Off to Hamburger Bahnhof for an art injection and a movie at Potsdamer Platz later.

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