Cultural Bridge Builder

The Greek-German literature symposium “SYN_ENERGY BERLIN_ATHENS,” which took place at the Lettrétage in Berlin from October 17-21, 2018, featured over 20 poets, prose writers, playwrights, translators, word performance artists, essayists and publishers from Greece, Cyprus, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 

The event was organized by Michaela Prinzinger, a renowned and engaged translator in the field of German-Greek cultural mediation, along with her association “Diablog Vision e.V.”, in cooperation with the cultural institution Lettrétage in Kreuzberg and with support from the Hauptstadtkulturfonds and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Long Night of Reading

The symposium opened with a “Long Night of Reading”, during which the invited participants presented examples of their very different artistic work on two stages at the Heimathafen in Neukölln. The reading and performance marathon was moderated by the Büchner prizewinner Jan Wagner, et al. 

In the days that followed the performances, there were six panels of four symposium participants that discussed the wide variety of poetic ideas and forms of presentation from a theoretical perspective. Each of the panel participants gave a brief lecture about the concepts underlying their artistic practice, before engaging in a discussion on stage and with the large audience. The panels covered a wide variety of topics: “Myths as Performative Acts”, “Rhythm, Word, Music”, “Poetrypolitics”, “Race-Gender-Class”, “Bridge Builders” and “Writing Practices and Forms of Presentation”.

Variety of Artists ...

The group of artists was as diverse as the artistic approaches and performances and ranged from the Greek poets Phoebe Gianni, Maria Topali and Katerina Iliopoulou to the publisher of the renowned Greek online literature magazine, “O Anagnostis”, Yiannis Baskozos, from the Cypriot poetry performer Lily Michaelides to the German-Greek theatre maker and writer Gerasimos Bekas, as well as the two spoken word performers, Dominique Macri and Dalibor Markovic, who won the “International German Poetry Slam Championships” as “Team Scheller” in 2014 - to name but a few!

... and poetic concepts

The symposium succeeded in providing deep insights into the diversity of contemporary artistic and poetic forms of expression and presentation in both the Greek and German-speaking realms and in making new concepts, most of which also integrate the digital world, comprehensible and concrete. In addition to immanent aesthetic questions - e.g. whether a new aesthetic language of form really can be created through digitally supported performances, or whether it isn’t a form of (digital) ornamentation - The social relevance of such avant-garde concepts was also a recurring topic of discussion.

It will be interesting to see whether the work begun in this symposium, namely to bring word artists and artists from both linguistic and cultural circles into a dialogue, also will continue in the future. In any case, there is more than enough potential for further events of this kind!


Thomas Plaul works as a literary critic and lecturer as well as radio presenter. He lives in Frankfurt am Main and in Athens.

Translated by Zaia Alexander