» Will I become another person if I speak another language? Does a little sea horse look different if it no longer is called "tatsuno-otoshigo" (the lost child of the dragon) but rather the little horse from the sea?«
You don’t have to be Gregor Samsa or Daphne to be able to turn into a cockroach or laurel tree. A cup of tea is enough to transform our body, as the liquid moistens a dried-out throat, turning a hoarse crow into a nightingale. Tea can invigoratingly calm a body, changing a restless busy bee into a sedate koala bear. When and whatever you ingest, transformation takes place. Once Adam ate the apple, he was no longer the innocent he previously was. Even more so than food and drink, medication reshapes our faces and feelings. Humanity has never before been confronted by so many medicines and drugs. But a poem, too, can alter us physically and psychologically. After reading, our thoughts are not those they were before, and that can often be read in a face. A man is not always masculine, a European not always European and a human is not always two-legged. Literature protects its readers from seductively simplified, xenophobic identity proposals. Those sharing living space with poetic language are at home in the world of metamorphosis. And which homeland could be more secure than literature?
›Beyond Identities - The Art of Transformation‹ is the motto of Poetica IV, the fourth Festival for World Literature, hosted by the Morphomata International Center for Advanced Studies, in cooperation with the German Academy for Language and Literature, in Cologne, from January 22–27, 2018. Japanese-German poet and essayist Yoko Tawada is the curator of Poetica IV. She has invited authors from three continents to approach the topic of transformation and metamorphosis—each in their own way, during afternoon panel discussions and evening readings. Poetica IV will take place at different venues throughout Cologne: at the University of Cologne, the public library, the Literaturhaus, the Sancta-Clara-Cellar, the Japan Foundation and the Cologne Theater.
The following authors have been invited to Poetica IV: Jeffrey Angles from USA, Bei Dao from China, Anneke Brassinga from the Netherlands, Teju Cole from USA/Nigeria, Hiromi Itō from Japan, Kim Hyesoon from South Korea, Barbara Köhler from Germany, Morten Søndergaard from Denmark, Monique Truong from USA/Vietnam und Jan Wagner from Germany.