Interlit - News

6th of Oktober, 1997
5th of Oktober, 1997
3rd of October, 1997


by Uwe Friesel, author and literary translator living in Stockholm, Sweden. He has already taken part in INTERLIT 2 and 3 and now is special guest at INTERLIT 4.

Time to Write, Time to Read

In the park behind the Markgraf-Palace, in a wide circle around the baroque fountain of the Huguenots, the organizers have placed poems. The poems are written on canvas, clearly marked with the Interlit 4-logo. They look nice against the background of green grass and dark trees. Most people run past without looking, either because they know them already, or because they are not interested or in a haste. You cannot take in poetry about time without having time yourself. But some step on the grass and start to decipher the texts that have traveled such a long way to reach us. And some even connect them with the information that they may meet the authors, if they wish.

Time Sponsoring

In the last press conference, Wolf-Peter Schnetz reveals that he will soon quit his job as the one responsible for culture in the city of Erlangen. He is a writer himself. Hence his love and curiosity for literature. It has made this city one of the most renowned literary places in Germany. Sorry to say: but without him, it is to be feared, no more Interlit in Erlangen. Thank you, Wolf, for having devoted so much time to this. Working time. Life time. Time, that you could have used for writing your own texts.

Distance - Nearness

There is Lesego Rampolokeng. One recognizes him by his African hairdress. And by his cap. Last time, it was made of wool, this time it's leather, but the shape is that same balloonish roundness. He wants to give offense and hates to be patronized. This time he has not come all the way from Soweto but the two hours it takes from Stuttgart, rather, where he holds one of the international scholarships on Schloß Solitude. So much nearer his travel. But isn't the whole of South Africa so much nearer since Interlit 3? And isn't the dithoko poetry Lesego invents and the way he performs rap one of the secret reasons why times are a'changing?

Time to Take Home

Meena Alexander from India was so enthusiastic about the poster-poems in the park that she thought she might take, perhaps, hers home with her? Why not? After she's transported her text all the way from America to Erlangen, why not re-import it, transformed into another language, to the place where it came from? The only problem will be the size of that open-air-souvenir: can it be rolled to fit into her luggage?


by Uwe Friesel, author and literary translator living in Stockholm, Sweden. He has already taken part in INTERLIT 2 and 3and now is special guest at INTERLIT 4.

In Many Tongues

On the second day, we all have already listened to two times two hours of discussions, annotations and philosophical excursions. Concentration fades down a bit. Breakfast takes a little longer. Instead of going directly into the Forum-hall, some participants pose in front of the poster-wall with handwritten poems to be photographed. And some even forget about their mother languages and speak to the surrounding listeners in many tongues, including hands and feet. There are many ways to make yourself understood, once understanding has started.

INTERLIT - Second Generation

Suddenly a young lady smiles at me: "Don't you know me any more?" She is Nataly Bleuel, the daughter of Pit Bleuel who for a long time was head of the association "Interlit e.V.". Yes, I do remember: at that time she jobbed at the Interlit-information desk. Meanwhile, she has studied journalism and now works at the weekly magazine DER SPIEGEL, on the online cultural page. Being an expert on both Interlit and Internet, she praises the virtual presentation of the congress. Lovely. Interlit, second generation.

Pipe Proof

Syl Cheney-Coker from Sierra Leone is a passionate pipe smoker. His two light brown Bruyère-pipes are either being cleaned or kept puffing. "It calms down and at the same time spreads good mood," he says, puffing away. "Besides, it is very attractive for women." Slightly puzzled, I look around. The women laugh. Obviously, they quite agree. But would they also if the smoker were somebody else?

Globalization of Censorship?

At the end of Forum 3 with the title "There is no innocent word", Lindsey Collen from Mauritius states that since 1989 there has happened some sort of globalization even of literature. Censorship typical of only one country is hardly any more detectable. Instead, throughout the world we find a growing pressure on the authors to be less political. Because politically everything is more or less okay now, isn't it? Now, it is the literary form that really counts. This remark strikes me. Doesn't she describe exactly the situation of our colleagues from the former GDR in confrontation with present-day German literary criticism? If the reasons for critical writing have vanished, if instead of "other times" there is only one "equal time" left: how do you define yourself as a writer in a specific context? Or, to put it in another way: is the so-called "global challenge", often described by physicists, sociologists and philosophers, something that can be transformed into literature?

How Translators Handle the Impossible

The translators up on the balcony work without pause and with astonishing precision.

That's exhausting and sometimes quite impossible, especially when those who take the floor don't take a microphone. Then, the translators in their tightly locked cabins don't understand anything any more, although they are there to make understanding possible. Or they receive the manuscripts to be read only in the very last minute, out of the hands of a breathless Susanne Gumbmann, who is responsible for nearly everything but, alas, not for unforeseen changes in the texts. At the end of the session, the translators' working day has not finished at all: the manuscripts of tomorrow have to be looked over, putting pronunciation-marks, correcting spelling errors, preparing other times once again.

Old Acquaintances, Time and Myth

There is Dr. Hahlweg sitting. Halloo! How are you? When still Lord Major in Erlangen, he has paved the ways for Interlit 2 and 3. And there are rumors that he also promoted the forth by putting in a word in Brussels. Although no longer responsible, he shows up, privately. The forum is named "Time and Myth", and Al Imfeld, Swiss moderator, bids him a hearty welcome mentioning their common studies in the USA, ages ago. Out of which the idea of Interlit was born. Time and myth indeed Here, they link.

So Many Destenies

Late in the evening, when readings and discussions in places of higher learning and literary societies are done with, all meet in the Theater Café. There, they are welcomed by the host Habib Bektas and his wife. Habib, a writer himself, walks around, talks to one or two old acquaintances, and is happy about the friendly multilingual atmosphere. We drink, talk, and laugh. But as if a reminder was needed, there are these pictures on the wall, drawn and painted by Ali Reza Darvish, showing Mullahs who are about to use books as tools for murder. - For the time being, Ali Reza lives in Erlangen, in political exile. So many countries. So many destinies.


by Uwe Friesel, author and literary translator living in Stockholm, Sweden. He has already taken part in INTERLIT 2 and 3and now is special guest at INTERLIT 4.

The Implicit Values of Literature

The opening event was in Nuremberg. Some organizers feared that maybe the "Tafelhalle" was too big. Not for the literatures of the world that were here as guests. For them the hall couldn't have been big enough. But perhaps for the German public? Far from it! The "Tafelhalle" was filled to the top. And Dr. Siegfried Balleis, major of Erlangen, could state with some pride, meanwhile even cultural cooperation functions in the greater frankonian region of Nuremberg-Erlangen-Schwabach. Here we clearly recognize the implicit values of literature from the greater region of Asia-Africa-Southamerica.

Argentine Kant

Ana Maria Shua from Argentine read miniatures about the great Immanuel Kant, who had the philosophical habit of going for a walk each afternoon at four o'clock sharp. His daily punctuality mirrored or rather, was, the order of the world. When he went away for some travel, the world-order would fall apart. Ana Maria Shua did not say "in Königsberg", but "as such". That was truly Kantian observation, even if, maybe, in a more southern way. For us, who listened attentively, it became clear how long Kant has already been away traveling by now, away from this earth. Without return ticket, presumably.

Around the world with INTERLIT

The logo of "Interlit4" is an exclamation mark in brackets and has a magic touch. Even on the crowded boards on the roadside it leaves a distinguishable signal. In Erlangen you just can't miss it. He, who prefers to look at screens rather than street signs, may detect the magic exclamation mark in Internet: <>is the address. Thus, already in Stockholm, Sweden, were no exclamation mark was pasted, I got a rather good impression of what was expecting me in Erlangen, just by looking at Interlit in Internet

Logo - the Indian way

Following the Interlit-theme "Andere Zeiten - Other Times", Gitah Hariharan from India chose an adequate disguise. Instead of the Kumkum, the Indian beauty mark, she wore an exquisite exclamation mark on her forehead. How beautiful she looked!

Writing Poetry in Exile

Essma'il Cho'i from Iran lives in British exile. He writes in Persian (Farsi), speaks English and knows Italian, as was proved in a poem he read. Strange: not only is he divided from his mother-country by thousands of miles and half a millennium of history - Iran is medieval right now, he says - but also by a multitude of European cultures. His Persian memories float through them like walking in sleep.

INTERLIT or Where one really meets

In America there is a literary price with a German name, called "Neustatt-Preis".It comprises a sum of 40.000 US Dollars, rewarded annually by the University of Oklahoma. Shirley Lim from Malysia, freshly arrived from Santa Barbara, California, reported at our Theater-Café table, that she had just been appointed a member of the international jury for that prestigious price. Where upon Meena Alexander from India dryly stated "I have been in that jury already for quite some time now." Apparently, international jury members get to know each other far more intimately when in Erlangen.