Festival for World Literature
Jan. 25–30, 2016 – Cologne

Blue Notes: Living in Sentences, Dancing in Verses

What comes to mind when we think of blue—of the indigo blue night sky, of the Southern blue of the Mediterranean, or the blue hour of poets and painters? The blue helmets of the UN and the flag of the European Union or blue police and military uniforms? The Romantics’s blue flower, or ›blue feelings‹, that is, blue as a color of sorrow and melancholy as well as hope; a color of wisdom as well as ecstasy and intoxication? Perhaps we also think of how many poets have created their poetic homeland with blue ink and in blue notes? What role does the art of melancholy play in times of policital and inner exile? How do we deal with grief, with the loss of a beloved person or of our homeland in literature? Is melancholy a muse and poetry the remedy? Might grief—rather than hope—be literature’s most potent subject? What symbolic values does blue possess across different cultures? And does the novel know a different blue from that of the poem?

›Blue Notes: Living in Sentences, Dancing in Verses‹ is the motto of Poetica II, the second 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 25–30, 2016. Slovenian poet, prose writer, and publisher, Aleš Šteger, the curator of Poetica II, has invited authors from eight countries and three different continents to Cologne—›literary amphibians‹, as he calls them, authors who are both renowned poets and novelists, experimenting with two genres, with poems as well as novels, and who thus have to choose, time and again, between different ways of shaping the world: between a dance-like rhythmical and a prosaic-realistic form. How do these authors describe such an ›amphibic‹ creativity, living in sentences, one the one hand, and dancing in verses, on the other? How do different genres shape our knowledge about melancholy and hope?

Poetica II thus considers the quality and potency of ›Blue Notes‹. The following authors have been invited to the festival: Yuri Andrukhovych from Ukraine, Bernardo Atxaga from Spain, Georgi Gospodinov from Bulgaria, Lavinia Greenlaw from Great Britain, Durs Grünbein from Germany, Paul Muldoon from the USA, Ilma Rakusa from Switzerland, Ana Ristović from Serbia, Sjón from Island. For the festival’s finale, these writers will convene with additional authors from the German Academy for Language and Literature—among them, poets Heinrich Detering, Michael Krüger and Monika Rinck as well as novelists Navid Kermani and Martin Mosebach—for public readings and discussions.

At select venues throughout Cologne, Poetica II aims to make tangible literature’s potential to both fascinate and unsettle: at the University of Cologne, the public library, the Literaturhaus, King Georg, the Filmhauskino, the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, and the Cologne Theater. What makes Poetica II unique are the fruitful exchanges it fosters, through readings and discussions, between literature, academia, and the public.