Expat author Christopher Allen recently interviewed the German author Marcus Speh (who often writes in English) at his blog I Must Be Off.Together, Allen and Speh explore questions of home, belonging, travel, inspiration, New Zealand, and writing and meaning in different languages. The interview is both in English und auf deutsch, here are the starting passages:
A perfect thing to highlight here at our Aotearoa Affair. See links to the full interviews here:
Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O’Type (a Satire). His fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in numerous places both online and in print. He edits for Metazen, a daily literary ezine, and writes book reviews for Books at Fictionaut (see his recent review of Sheldon Lee Compton’s The Same Terrible Storm). Allen has been a Pushcart Prize nominee, a finalist at Glimmer Train and the recipient of a few other writing awards. He lives in Germany, where he teaches Business English, but spends a lot of his time traveling.
Christopher Allen, amerikanischer Autor der Satire Conversations with S. Teri O’Type (Englisch), lebt in Deutschland. Seine Kurzgeschichten findet man in literarischen “Ezines” wie Blue Five Notebook Series, SmokeLong Quarterly und A- Minor. Allen ist bei der Redaktion von Metazen und schreibt auch Buchkritiken für “Books at Fictionaut”). Unter anderem wurde Allen für den Pushcart Prize nominiert und auch ausgewählt als Finalist beim Glimmer Train. Allen reist sehr gern, vielleicht zu gern.
Marcus Speh ist ein deutscher Schriftsteller, der Prosa auf Englisch schreibt. 2002 lebte er mit seiner Familie in New Lynn und lehrte an der University of Auckland. Seine Sammlung von Kurzgeschichten Thank You For Your Spermwird Ende 2012 bei MadHat Press erscheinen.
Marcus Speh is a German writer who writes prose in English. In 2002 he lived with his family in New Lynn and taught at the University of Auckland. His debut collection of short fiction Thank You For Your Sperm will be published at the end of 2012 by MadHat Press.
This edition is packed with twenty-six lively tales. Also inlcuded: notes + quotes on the flash format. Hope you enjoy and please pass along. We’ll be tweeting and posting more on Facebook throughout the week.
BI.Guest edited by Christopher Allen in Munich. In celebration of the bilateral literary relationship between Germany and New Zealand, we feature stories, poems, travel essays, photos, interviews, films, songs and more from TWO perspectives: bilingual, bisexual, bipartisan, binational, bipolar…
Contributors: Hinemoana Baker, James Nicholas, Marcus Speh, Tim Jones, Elena Bossi, Penelope Todd, Lori Fischer, Federico Federici, David Nettleingham, Raewyn Alexander, Aiden-Barrett Howard, Helen Lowe, Stella Pierides-Müller, Trish Nicholson, Rae Roadley, Foster Trecost, Walter Bjorkman, Tania Hershman, Christopher Allen, Dorothee Land and Michelle Elvy.
The city of Leipzig always has been a place of culture and trade: Wolfgang Goethe and Johann Sebastian Bach lived here – and since the 17th century, the city is home to the Leipzig Book Fair
The Leipzig Book Fair (“Leipziger Buchmesse”) takes place in spring and is the second largest book fair in Germany after the Frankfurt Book Fair. It is open to the public on all days, and emphasizes the relationship between the authors and the readers. In contrast, the Frankfurt Book Fair is larger, and focuses on the business aspects. More about the history of both fairs, further below.
The main topics of this year’s Leipzig Book Fair were: Authors at Leipzig (an author meeting), audiobooks, book+art, the region Central/Eastern Europe, Children – Youth – Education, Comics, Digitalization, Young German Literature and Music.
There also is a video with impressions from the fair:
New Zealand in Leipzig
As this year’s Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, New Zealand also offered a first taste of its literary and cultural programme at the Leipzig Book Fair.
The New Zealand Authors who visited Leipzig were: Kyle Mewburn, Antonia Steeg, Barbara Ewing, Allan Duff, Damien Wilkins, Elizabeth Knox and Jenny Pattrick (photo: Buchmesse Frankfurt).
During the four-day presentation, the New Zealand authors read from their current publications both on the international stage of the Leipzig Book fair as well as on the stage at the Frankfurt Book Fair’s stand. In panel discussions, they shared personal insight into their country, its culture and its people, and got readers interested in their country on the other side of the world.
The 4-day presentation was rounded up by a discussion panel with graduates of the International Institute of Modern Letters at the Victoria University of Wellington: Elizabeth Knox, Kate Camp and Damien Wilkins talked about Creative Writing and the promotion of young authors in New Zealand.
Impressions from the Leipzig Book Fair
The NZatFrankfurt website features several articles on the authors’ visit at the Leipzig book fair:
Inside the Glass Hall – on visiting the book fair: ” Alan Duff summed it up well. “I think we’ve all been astonished by how many people have come to this book fair,” he said at an authors’ reading yesterday. “There are more people here than at two rugby tests in New Zealand.”
Kyle Mewburn at Leipzig talks about writing children’s books: there’s a “magical little element to it that you can never guess,” he says. “You cross your fingers every time you write a book.”
Poet Kate Camp talks Rilke and life in Berlin: “I have been reading a lot of European poets in translation, and particularly reading a lot of Rilke, his poems but also his letters. I think this has introduced a different tone into my work.”
Germany’s two main book fairs: Leipzig and Frankfurt
The history of the Leipzig Book Fair also reflects the history of Germany and the political changes: the tradition of the Leipzig Book Fair reaches back to the 17th century. In 1632, the fair for the first time topped the fair in Frankfurt am Main in the number of books presented, and kept thriving.
After 1945, things changed due to the cold war: During the GDR era the fair remained an important meeting place for book lovers and sellers from both East and West Germany, but Frankfurt turned into the main fair for book trade, especially for publishers and agents.
After unification, the Leipzig fair moved to a new, modern location outside the city center. Since then, the Leipzig fair experienced a renaissance and continues to grow.
A walk through Leipzig
Leipzig isn’t only home to the book fair – it’s also the place where the democratic revolution in East Germany started in 1989. The centre of the revolution back then was the Nikolai-Church in the centre of town. Beginning in 1980, people gathered in the church every Monday for prayer. First just a few met, then more, until in 1989, thousands came together there every week for Monday mass, which was followed by a walk of protest.
It’s still moving to walk across the church square, and to see the photo that was taken during one of the Monday walks. The banner says “Friedliche Revolution — Aufbruch zur Demokratie” / “Peaceful Revolution — Rise for Democracy.”
In her short story collection Once upon a time in Aotearoa Tina Makareti explores a world where old myths become part of everyday life and encounters between reality and magic are taken for granted.
Tina Makereti lives in Wellington, and is of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngati Maniapoto, Irish, Welsh, English and possibly even Moriori and Scandinavian descent. Included in this feature is “Kaitiaki”, a short story from her collection that reveals the loneliness of old age and city life and the consolation and protection offered by the mountains. Here are the opening paragraphs in English and German. Further below is the full short story in both languages.
Interview with translator Anita Goetthans
For readers who are only starting to explore New Zealand literature, we spoke with the German translator of the story Anita Goetthans about some key elements of the collection and its translation, and about her own transition from Germany to New Zealand. Goetthans is a free-lance translator and interpreter and also teaches at the Translation and Interpreting Centre at AUT, Auckland University of Technology. She has been living in Auckland, New Zealand since 1996.
Could you tell us a bit about the story Kaitiaki, and about the way it connects to the past and present cultural landscape of New Zealand?
When I read Tina’s stories I fell in love with almost every single one of them. Although there is only one author behind these stories each of them seems to have its individual voice and idiosyncratic language depending on the narrator.
In Kaitiaki it is the kuia, an old Maori lady, who’s been disenfranchised from her rural home near the mountains for a long time, living alone and isolated in a city environment which becomes stranger and stranger to her by the day.
This is a common enough occurrence in the big cities, especially following the huge influx of rural Maori when labour was needed in the 1960s. In this decade te reo Maori was almost forgotten and frowned upon in primary and secondary schools. When the language was in danger of becoming almost extinct a huge effort was made in the 1980s to revive it, with some success.