Taking stock of the Berlin Project (Original Manifesto)

The Berlin Project has been outstanding for me for a long time, inspired by an old second hand guidebook published few years before the wall fell, which I had found by chance in a street market. A dedication on the inside cover addresses an unknown woman: ‘Paula, September 1989′ spurring her into taking a trip to East Berlin, “with care”. No underlining or other marks suggest whether she did, or which way she would eventually choose.
When I first wrote to British poet David Nettleingham about this, I intended to make for Berlin, travelling through time stirred up by those old roadmaps – crammed with and dominated by physical barriers, social prohibitions and subterfuges, and by the mysterious fascination of documents and excerpts which I had collected during my stays in Germany over the years. I wished to finally compare the original guidebook with a contemporary copy, though somehow aware of the ultimate uncertainty of them both. Where did the frame end and real picture within begin in such an historical entanglement? What faces lay behind the mask? What voices behind the language? Ich und Ick, was und wat, Appel und Apfel: the Berlinisch replies to both an official language and a newer slang are born and restlessly absorbed in the perpetual flow of passing strangers. In the most secretive way, misspelled words retain the naïve inspiration of speech, like the colourful splinters of a shattered object. No neat boundaries survive: words demolish cultural barriers and animate the vivid spirit of Babel anew, within an underlying process of creative change.
The more information we recovered the more a spell was cast on Berlin, re-attaching it to the vague idea of some seat of the soul. What has remained of the wall other than its colourful memorials, in front of which a crowd of sightseers queues up everyday to save another smiling shot? Are Mehringhof, Ufa Fabrik, Kerngehäuse, Schwarze Risse (the anarchic bookshop) still there? And what about the famous Café Kranzler, Das Sowjetische buch? Have all of these names survived only on these maps? What path would we tread while moving eastwards, according to the fussy expatriation procedure suggested in the guidebook, following the Grenzübergangstelle; maybe standing again in a queue where the Andere Staaten gate was, waiting for our turn?
Despite the widely shared and accepted image of Berlin as a hip, germ-cell of new trends, the irrefutable contradictions emerging from its bedrock draw a veil over the scar tissue covering the wounds, without really healing them. Clearing away the rubble from the Second World War has not soothed the grief and the Cold War that followed was an even harder, since invisible, fight.
While Berlin treasures its hidden places and looks after each more or less irregular inhabitant who has made it his wish to be there, something still unforgiven nourishes the Stadtgeist. The new topography is driven by the mandatory force of a vanguard building plan. As it allegedly absorbs old relics within a thick concrete shrine, it seems much more concerned about its propaganda impact, in favour of a peaceful coexistence of ancient Eastern/Western rivalries in the name of wider interests, than about facing the actual expectations of people.
The policy of disregarding the widespread request of radical freedom, with the hope of appeasing it, is indeed creating the opposite effect, spontaneously drawing the alternative movements behind the scenes together to concerted common action. The failure of the recent attempt of eviction of the Tacheles arthouse, a former department store due to be demolished, squatted in since 1990, and the subsequent revolt of the artistic community marching across the quarter, is just another hint of the simmering discontent. Walls let whispers and draughts pass easily throughout Berlin.
It is facing this variegated background that Nettleingham and I have decided to start our personal research into the literature, politics, films and art of the old city interleaved with the new, picking up ideas, stories, photographs, quick spontaneous street interviews and other audio/video samples; working out contrasts and personal experiences. In this process, Nettleingham is much more involved in the social implications of the new city growing within/without the old one, and I tend to give prominence to the “walled in” feeling under the shadow of an invisible barrier.
Our aim is ultimately to produce a series of joint socio-artistic works, multi-layered, rich in different languages, bringing together all the collected materials, and unveiling the skeleton or the soul of Berlin.
The developing state and progress of the project is currently updated on the pages of a blog, reworked and revived with each new stay in the city.
We are very grateful to Canterbury City Council’s Creative Canterbury initiative for their support in the research and development of this project and hope new partners will soon show interest and get involved as well.

Das ist der Weisheit letzter Schluss:
Nur der verdient sich Freiheit wie das Leben,
Das ist der Weisheit letzter Schluss:
Der täglich sie erobern muss.

Faust, Atto V
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Un’ipotesi di Luca Rizzatello su “Requiem auf einer Stele” (Conversation Paperpress, 2010)

Riporto qui di seguito, sotto forma di file da scaricare, un’interessante ipotesi di lettura firmata da Luca Rizzatello a proposito di Requiem auf einer Stele, già ospitata da Poesia 2.0.
A differenza di quanto fatto in passato, non riporto il contenuto dell’articolo all’interno di un post, per una sostanziale incompatibilità tra la formattazione dell’opera e la rete.

Requiem auf einer Stele (twelve fragments), lulu.com, Morrisville 2017, (Eng-Ger-Rus).
ISBN: 978-0244339807 New edition
download: «Winterblatt» n.8
buy: barnes&noble | amazon.com | .it | .de | .es | .uk

Strange fruit: nuovissima poesia civile dall’Inghilterra

Scritto nell’arco di un anno, Adage Adagio, uscito originariamente in Inghilterra nel 2009 per The Conversation Paperpress, è un dialogo in versi tra due poeti di formazione diversa: David Nettleingham, ricercatore e insegnate di sociologia presso l’Università del Kent e Christopher Hobday, specializzatosi in Letteratura inglese e americana presso la stessa Università in Canterbury.
L’ispirazione per questo lavoro nasce dall’infittirsi delle discussioni tra i due autori sull’origine del vivere sociale, su quel nature versus nurture che separa la “naturalità” dalle sue elaborazioni o trasposizioni nella “società” degli uomini. Adage Adagio esprime il serrato confronto tra due posizioni distinte che tentano a ogni verso di misurare la propria distanza, di spiegare o confutare le rispettive ragioni. L’intera raccolta funziona sull’espediente dialettico di antitesi e tesi nel tentativo di risolvere la contrapposizione di fondo: da un lato Nettleingham, convinto di una matrice essenzialmente sociale dell’uomo, dall’altro Hobday, che non separa mai completamente i contesti da un a priori naturale, quasi una predisposizione genetica al libero arbitrio. Le due prospettive convergono su ciò che Nettleingham chiama “memoria” e Hobday “ereditarietà”, qualità innate o espressioni di una volontà che rendono però ogni individuo parte di qualcosa di radicale. Con una metafora, si potrebbe dire che ogni foglia è tale secondo la propria specie, ma vive solo se sono vive le radici dell’albero cui appartiene.
La dicitura “Appunti I-X” del sottotitolo non sia fraintesa.
Non si tratta di un archivio provvisorio che rimanda a un’analisi e un’interpretazione (anche poetica) successive. La prima stesura costituisce solo lo strato più profondo, quello su cui si sono accumulati i dati veri e propri. Ne sono però rimasti sparsi affioramenti che costituiscono passaggi di un realismo tanto più crudo e vivo quanto più isolato all’interno di un’elaborazione anche complessa e raffinata.
Il linguaggio attraversa verticalmente tutti i piani della raccolta, Continue reading “Strange fruit: nuovissima poesia civile dall’Inghilterra”

Requiem auf einer Stele (fr. 11, part 1)


Alexandra Antic, Daniel and Joseph Kooner (voice)
Luigi Russolo, Bass Communion and Federico Federici (soundscape)
Most of the people in this video were filmed in Ost-Berlin (winter, 2001-2005).

Requiem auf einer Stele (twelve fragments), lulu.com, Morrisville 2017, (Eng-Ger-Rus).
ISBN: 978-0244339807 New edition
download: «Winterblatt» n.8
buy: barnes&noble | amazon.com | .it | .de | .es | .uk

Requiem auf einer Stele (fr. 11, part 1)

›1.3‹¦es schneit! es schneit! es schneit! es ist spätͺ denn was heiβt schon zeitheit? licht der wirklichkeit? ¦ · arms curving over empty holes define us · precisely nothing that nothing holds · he who was lost has not been called back yet from his warm haze of spring · how easily the inaudible grace of solitude fills the same place! · snow continues to fallͺ vowels and snowͺ atonal snow piling up on both hands in the tall grassͺ holding the world-weight downward · we never touch thingsͺ things attract us · not much else · were voices there along this black amount of waterͺ someone would hear us firstͺ muttering like a newͺ clean spring spilt among dry boulders · let us stand still with the river like the waters do · the sleepy rhyme of the dead hour calls · the word half speltͺ the word half written for fear of too much abstraction lie under the water’s haste · the real namesͺ the good ones thronged into leggy shrubs glint in their finitude · nothing else but namesͺ ideograms on thin leavesͺ namesͺ nervesͺ stems whose fine ends are not flowers but stars · it’s what we live inͺ asleep · that which was a house is dust now · a hollow stone · the inside of the house is between the trees · wood after fire keeps a tepid hope · frozen roots fed on ashes underfoot jut out · ¦hier also hältst du dich versteckt? die klarheitͺ die sternenkunst machen dir so viel angst ¦ · lonesome lilacs bleed among the wreckage · ›1.1‹ ͺ [sw]amp fernͺ no reflection in the canal dredged by the fire-black oil lamp · the sacrifice remainsͺ foundation to a new beginningͺ redeems us with old hints of ardour and birth ·
[         ¦zwei tränen [  -6.1-]   ¦das schwere¦ͺ                                                                             ›3.1‹
ͺ¦die beiden türen der welt ¦               ]

[             ·                -8.1-]             ·

Alexandra Antic, Daniel and Joseph Kooner (voice), Luigi Russolo, Bass Communion and Federico Federici (soundscape).

Requiem auf einer Stele (twelve fragments), lulu.com, Morrisville 2017, (Eng-Ger-Rus).
ISBN: 978-0244339807 New edition
download: «Winterblatt» n.8
buy: barnes&noble | amazon.com | .it | .de | .es | .uk

Requiem auf einer Stele (fr. 2 A, fr. 2 B)


This poem is a stone, a still voice on the river-bed at the mercy of rushing water. It is the deciphered scratches and black stains on its surface.
This poem is a conversation in the green rooms of the woods where a hollow reed-throat sings beside a death-bed. It is the inexhaustible industry of the trout to compete upriver, and time abruptly halted by the sea. The stone is unmoving.

        Långt inne i mörkret. Världen går mot sitt slut.

das ist eine im feld gefundene stele
das ist ein im fluss gefundener stein
dies die im körper gefundenen knochen

dies materiales fuerunt   ›1.4‹   shortestͺ infrequent

] carboniferous tubers awakening
[of]  ›1.3‹
] black alluvial fingers
] veins winding along
eye-pebbles and flints [ͺ  curving the fields where
there is no endͺ [  ›2.2‹ did not want to end
to the abandoned land
] · I’m the old riverͺ the whole riverͺ
the understanding of it
] река‒это я

fr. 2 A.

] und das sind die polierten knochen
der poeten in meinem fleisch

] как лес
] redeemer of waters [
[bla]ck old tree-line in the flicker of storm ·

fr. 2 B.


Official gig: July 18th at 18:30, The Jolly Sailor, Canterbury

Federico Federici (sounds and voice), June 20th, Madonna della Neve, Pian dei Corsi.

Cover picture taken from Vertebrae, Federico Federici.

Requiem auf einer Stele (twelve fragments), lulu.com, Morrisville 2017, (Eng-Ger-Rus).
ISBN: 978-0244339807 New edition
download: «Winterblatt» n.8
buy: barnes&noble | amazon.com | .it | .de | .es | .uk