The “As If” of Poetry

November 2016

The “As If” of Poetry
Workshop and Exhibition

As part of the Stadtsprachen literature festival, which celebrated writers by Berliners in all languages besides German, SAND and The Reader co-presented a workshop and exhibition at Savvy Contemporary exploring poetry, sound, and the collective experience of creating meaning. 

Workshop: The “As If” of Poetry

Is the poem an artifact? Is technology a poetic medium?

This day-long workshop served as the platform for poets and all kinds of sound enthusiasts to come together and reason around the issues concerning the discursive and material intersections of poetry and technology.

As part of the Stadtsprachen Literaturfestival, participants of all backgrounds and levels of experience were invited to join a group of selected artists in creating and conceptualizing texts and sonic devices.

During the first part of the workshop, Donna Stonecipher helped participants to familiarize themselves with alternative translation techniques that use sound, memory, and one’s own relation to space as the tools to “translate” a poem and the potential for the translation of texts within a single language. Finally, all participants got to write their own homophonic poems and translations.

The second part of the workshop – led by the sound poets and performers of Rudolf Kollektiv – focused on taking these poems and translating them again into pure sound. To do this, participants learned to build a range of simple sonic devices; contact microphones, optical theremins, and amplifiers. These devices were used to intervene (and interfere were) the texts created.

In the process of doing so, the workshop asked: is sound the medium of what resides outside the world of “meaning”?

The material resulting from this day-long workshop was presented in the exhibition “sound and cerement//technologies of decay,” which took place on 4 November at SAVVY Contemporary.

Co-organized by Stadtsprachen Literaturfestival, SAND Journal, and The Reader Berlin.


Exhibition: Sound and Cerement

“In that in-between zone, when surfacing from sleep but not yet fully awake, images can get condensed into words that seem entirely made up of sounds or silences”
—Severo Sarduy, Firefly, 1991


Valentina Ramona de Jesús

Invited Artists

Marie-Pascale Hardy
Alan Mills
Jane Flett
Sarnath Banerjee
Göksu Kunak
Klaas von Karlos
Kenny Fries
Martin Gubbins
John Peck

Opening Schedule

8pm – Reading words out loud: John Peck
8:30pm – Audiovisual performance by Klaas von Karlos
10:00pm – The sounds of poetry by Martin Gubbins
12:00am – Sonic Intervention by MoreBlackthenGod

A project by SAND Journal and The Reader Berlin in partnership with Africavenir and SAVVY Contemporary

More details and photographs on the Stadtsprachen website.