Launch newleaf 26

Winter Tales

… was the motto of the launch reading for newleaf No. 26 on January 21st, 2010, at our usual venue, the KiOto at Lagerhaus Schildstraße. The title ‘Winter Tales’ was only too apt, considering that after more than four weeks of solid snow and frost Bremen was about to be hit by yet another blast of Siberian cold. But thankfully the cheery and summery cover of newleaf 26 — designed as always by Oliver Chrystossek — provided a great antidote to the ice outside.

The reading was hosted by newleaf events manager Alexandra Fietz with some help from the newleaf editorial trio of Ian Watson, Simon Makhali and Julia Boll. The music was provided by another set of newleaf stalwarts, The Damp Walls, also known as Oliver Meyer and Jens Hirschberg.

Meanwhile, the poems and prose presented both in newleaf 26 and on stage at the Lagerhaus were a balanced mix of debut authors and old hands, Bremen and international writers.

First up was Elisabeth Dutz with a selection of poems, including her ‘bridge’ poem which appears in newleaf 26. ‘The Absence of You’ and ‘Under the Bridge’ may be Elisabeth's first published poems, but they certainly won't be the last, for Elisabeth is rapidly maturing into a promising writer and also won the ‘poetry on the tracks’ competition sponsored by BSAG and the Fremdsprachenzentrum.

The next poet, Anna Shadrova, was another debut author, one who has come to newleaf from the Germanistik department at that. Anna read a poem about a failed seduction attempt, a situation that is only too familiar, judging by the audience response. Anna's poem certainly struck a chord and we'll certainly hear and read more from her in the future.

Alexandra Seidel had come all the way from Braunschweig to read her poem ‘Fight Club’ about which we cannot say anything more obvious reasons. Julia Boll, one third of newleaf's editorial team, undertook an even longer journey than Alexandra, for Julia was specifically flown in from Edinburgh to read two pieces from her chapbook Vignettes from Below. Julia also read what she termed her ‘agit prop poem’ about how little society values humanities and the arts, which expressed the sentiments of many in the audience.

British writer Nick Holdstock also lives in Edinburgh. Unlike Julia, he couldn't be at the launch, so newleaf editor Ian Watson read Nick's story ‘The Boy’ from newleaf 26. The titular boy is none other than Józef Teodor Konrad, a polish orphan who eventually grew up to be one of the greatest writers in the English language.

Sabine Broeck, professor of American literature at the University of Bremen and occasional newleaf author, took the audience further afield with a trio of post-colonial poems on the relationship between slavery and Western art and how the one manages to ignore and marginalize the other. Sabine also read a poem about the connection between Haiti and Osnabrück, where much of the clothing worn by slaves in the Caribbean was woven. The Haiti poem also served as an appeal for donations to the survivors of the devastating earthquake and so newleaf repurposed its fighting fund as a donation box to support the efforts of Médicins Sans Frontières to help the people of Haiti.

After the break, when donations were made and much beer and wine was consumed, Julia Arroja da Silva presented her take on the bridge poem project from the English department's creative writing workshop. Another text that grew out of the creative writing workshop was the short story ‘Keys’ by Corinna Gerhards.

Finally, the launch party also saw the long awaited rerun of ‘Everything you always wanted to know about newleaf and were afraid to ask’, a hard-hitting documentary directed by Patricia Schultz, which details the challenges and travails facing newleaf's editors, authors and management staff, including some moments that those involved would rather forget.

Many thanks to our hosts, the staff of the KiOto at the Lagerhaus Schildstraße, who were gracious and professional as always.