The Berlin Wall, 20 Years On…

November 9, 2009

Back in August, as clouds came and went over the Sound of Jura, a group of poets were focusing their thoughts and translation energies on Robert Burns and on the fall of the Wall: the 250th anniversary of the birth of one, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the other. We called the workshop – under the auspices of Literature Across Frontiers and the SPL – ‘Revolutionary Europe’. That title meant very different things to poets from Germany, Romania and Poland, and to us in Scotland. One of the many wonderful works that came out of the pressure-cooker at Crear, where the poets simmered for a week, was a poem by Michael Augustin that began with memories of children playing round the wall: no longer cowboys and Indians but defectors and police. And Scots provided just the right register for its mix of bleakness and humour, in the capable hands of Donny O’Rourke. So we’re marking that very significant anniversary today by featuring Michael’s poem (in the original German) and Donny’s translation on our site, and plan to follow it with more of the excellent poems from that very fruitful workshop – some of you may have heard them read at Crear itself or at the Book Festival in Edinburgh. The SPL is a window on the world as well as a window on  Scotland: these workshops show how we keep that window open, and the breeze blows both ways.

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