Literature, thought differently: the writer reads a text, the mood of which the musician underscores electro-acoustically, while the comic author draws and the dancer moves. The art forms overlap, impulses like a chain letter. The freestyle rapper positions himself, keywords from the audience become rhyming lines.
This evening of improvisation is called “Fabulous” and it breaks the boundaries of what is normally understood by a reading. The evening at Zirka Space in the creative district (December 1) is part of the literature festival program. Since mid-November, the Munich autumn event has been showering the city with fine words of every color until December 4th. What is pushed into the agenda towards the end, veers off. In every sense. Because the “Munich Rail”, as the experimental week is called from November 28, leads out of the literature house, out of e- and mainstream literature, into the subculture, into the in-between. To where fresh words waft, to where failure lurks. And maybe it’s time to put the really big questions on the creaking lectern: what actually is literature, where does it begin and end? Where does it take place in the publishing city of Munich, away from the established places, and who can get involved and how?
“It’s crazy what’s going on here!” says Benedikt Feiten about the literature on offer in his hometown. Feiten, born in 1982, is a published author (“Leiden Centraal”), musician and journalist. As curator of the first Munich sub-edition of the Literature Festival, he dealt with mostly young prose and poetry authors, with poetry slam stages, rappers, writing workshops and off-spaces. “There are many individual scenes,” he says, adding: “You definitely can’t represent everything.” His approach to this festival within a festival: “It’s not about clickbaiting along the lines of ten Munich authors you need to know. It’s about: where do you imagine an interesting dynamic?” It should go straight through the genres, scenes should mix. “Creating encounters was the most important thing to me.” So we read and sang, ate and drank, argued and danced, improvised and made our debut. There are also “open mic” evenings for unknown talents, with free admission (November 30th and December 1st).
“I wish it would continue”
Feiten’s concept of literature is broad. “Whether you call freestyle rap literature is interesting, but that’s not the point for me,” he explains. “Someone who does rap will deal with style, rhythm, imagery and onomatopoeia like other writers.” That connects. The Improv Thursday (“Abfahr”) therefore stands pars pro toto for the concept of Feiten, who was awarded the literature scholarship of the city of Munich in 2005, a Bavarian art prize in 2019, and is closely connected to the Bavarian Academy of Writing. He himself will moderate when Jovana Reisinger reads, Roger Rekless raps, Lisa Frühbeis draws, Alfonso Fernández Sánchez dances and musician Inga is whisked away into her sound worlds. So when they make “art on demand” in Zirka Space and take the risk of failure.
In general, the locations: The Favorit Bar is also involved, the Bellevue di Monaco, the Rote Sonne and Hall X in the HP8 – all of them rather unusual literary festival stages. It was particularly important to Feiten that the locations match the respective evening. Because it’s always about Where literature takes place. For him, an event about community could only be at home in the Bellevue di Monaco (food, drink, texts and music, including with Dana von Suffrin and Maxi Pongratz), a live radio play only at Club Rote Sonne. Certainly, the literature festival was never limited to the Literaturhaus. But an opening like this is remarkable. A trend towards decentralization that has also been evident at the Munich Film Festival for some time now.
Another key day is Tuesday (“an organizational tour de force”). And because the House of Literature is also to be integrated, the scene meets here in all its diversity. Reading series and writing workshops will be presented on November 29th, there will be discussions (with Tristan Marquardt, Bumillo, Dagmar Leupold, Markus Ostermair, among others) and, of course, reading. There will also be writing exercises. The evening has the potential to answer questions that many ask themselves: How do I become an author, where are there opportunities to perform in Munich? Feiten is amazed at how great the response was. Literally, he says: “It’s awesome how much they were in the mood.”
He approached curating through topics, not through authors. “There are just so many strong people in Munich,” says Feiten. Although well-known names are also present (Tukan Prize winner Martin Kordic and Book Prize nominee Slata Roschal speak at the beginning about not belonging), the topics are more in the foreground. Another exciting idea was to have young Munich writers react to “voices from the off”, i.e. to literary texts from the past. An interaction between yesterday and today. Among others, Meike Harms and Florian Weber, who have written exclusive texts for the experiment, get involved in the experiment (December 2, HP8).
From the past into the here and now – but also into the future? The wish that there should be a Munich program at the literature festival has existed for a long time. Feiten hopes that the track he designed will only be the beginning. “I would like it to continue,” he says, “if possible with different forms and curators.” Modest and clever, he also says: “The scene does not depend on being opened up”. Nevertheless, it happens far too seldom that people who play creatively with thoughts and words get together and meet. The Munich section of the literature festival has great potential. Feiten also believes in that: “When asked, does that exist?, the simple answer is: one million percent!”