Sa09Mrz202420:30 UhrLettrétage in der Veteranenstraße 21, Admission: free
„But existence, too, must be poetic“ – An Evening of Friederike Mayröcker
Reading by Donna Stonecipher, Alexander Booth and Ryan Ruby
“He accompanies me across the street it was the 1 icy winter day he wasn’t wearing a jacket, not just what’s written but existence, too, must be poetic.” So Friederike Mayröcker (1924-2021) ends, at the age of 89, a section of her stream-of-consciousness meditations, CAHIER, crystallizing a sense of her epic life and work: “not just what’s written but existence, too, must be poetic.”
Best known as a poet associated with the Austrian postwar avant-garde, Mayröcker was one of the twentieth century’s most important and original authors. She wrote over 100 books across a range of genres. Incorporating citations, confessions, experiments with language, and even her own little drawings, her work has been famously hard to pin down; she herself has used the term proem and, to describe her autobiographical work, zarte Prosa (tender prose). And yet, by the end of her life, she had already become iconic: the black-clad avant-gardist, the Viennese café-dweller in bangs, the death-defying poet who kept grieving her partner in life and art, Ernst Jandl, and kept writing against mortality until the very end.
In what would have been her hundredth year, “But existence, too, must be poetic”: An Evening of Friederike Mayröcker celebrates the late, great author here in the city where she once lived and often visited. Berlin is also perhaps the central node for Mayröcker’s English-language reception, as shaped by the translators Donna Stonecipher and Alexander Booth and the critic Ryan Ruby. In a discussion moderated by Alexander Wells, these three Berliners – and poets in their own right – will discuss Mayröcker, her life and work, and her worldwide literary influence.
After a drinks break, the evening will resume with a Mayröckerian series of selected short readings from Berlin writers, moderated by Sanders Isaac Bernstein. All are welcome, from the Friedi-fiends to the mildly curious.
This event will be largely held in English – though the second-half readings may be in any language.
If you would like to read your own work at the event, please email your submission of up to 700 words (prose) or 50 lines (poetry) – in any language – to email@example.com by February 18. All readings will also be published online and in a printed zine commemorating the evening.
For more details, read the call for submissions here: https://sites.google.com/view/mayroeckernow/home.
NOTE: Submissions do not need to be directly influenced by Mayröcker – and should not be about her. What we want is for this evening to channel her spirit, the spirit of “not just what’s written but existence, too, must be poetic.” Which means: We want your prose poems, your lyric essays and zarte Prosa, your language experiments, your sound-games your word-storms your shouts against death. Obviously, we also want your proems. We are open to submissions in English or in German, or indeed a third language of your choice. Originality is key, and so is excess. Too much of a good thing is, in this case, the good thing.
To get inspired, you can read some of Mayröcker's poetry – with translations – online at lyrikline.de. Ryan Ruby‘s essay was published by Poetry magazine and THE PARIS REVIEW ran an excerpt from THE COMMUNICATING VESSELS here. Her books are available in German in all proper bookstores, and the following English translations are highly recommended (some will be available for purchase on the night):
Alexander Booth is a poet & translator who has lived in Berlin for the past decade after many years in Rome. The recipient of support from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Arts and Culture, the German Translators’ Fund, and PEN America, his work has appeared in publications such as A PUBLIC SPACE, ASYMPTOTE, BELOIT POETRY JOURNAL, CHICAGO REVIEW, MINOR LITERATURE[S], NEW ENGLAND REVIEW, and WORLD LITERATURE TODAY, among others. In addition to Friederike Mayröcker, his translations include works by Alexander Kluge, Sandro Penna, Gerhard Rühm, Lutz Seiler, and a new translation of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS.
Ryan Ruby is the author of THE ZERO AND THE ONE: A NOVEL (Twelve Books, 2017) and a book-length poem, CONTEXT COLLAPSE, out from Seven Stories Press in November 2024. For his reviews and essays, which have appeared in such venues as HARPER’S, THE NEW YORKER, and THE NEW YORK TIMES, he received the 2023 Silvers Prize in Literary Criticism. He lives in Berlin.
Donna Stonecipher is the author of six books of poetry, most recently THE RUINS OF NOSTALGIA (2023), which was named a best book of 2023 by NPR, and TRANSACTION HISTORIES (2018), which was listed by THE NEW YORK TIMES as one of the 10 best poetry books of 2018. She has also published one book of criticism, PROSE POETRY AND THE CITY (2018). Her poems have been published in many journals, including THE PARIS REVIEW, and have been translated into seven languages. She translates from German, and her translation of Austrian poet Friederike Mayröcker’s trilogy ÉTUDES, CAHIER, AND FLEURS, for which she received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, is being published by Seagull Books. She lives in Berlin.
Sanders Isaac Bernstein is a writer living in Berlin. His work has appeared, among other places, in NEWYORKER.COM, JEWISH CURRENTS, CODA, and THE BAD VERSION, which he founded and edited from 2011-2014. He is currently Stage Editor for EXBERLINER, Berlin’s English-language print monthly.
Alexander Wells is a freelance writer and critic from Australia. His reviews and essays have been published by THE GUARDIAN, THE DRIFT, THE BAFFLER, and the EUROPEAN REVIEW OF BOOKS among others. He is also Books Editor for the print monthly EXBERLINER.