Writing in Migration – Berlin’s First African Literary Festival

With this short post Sandra van Lente would like to draw your attention to the literary agency InterKontinental and the festival its founders organise this April: “Writing in Migration”.

picture of Curator Olumide Popoola

Curator Olumide Popoola (c) InterKontinental

Let me start with “Writing in Migration”. The festival celebrates African literature and takes place 26-28 April at the Babylon in Berlin. Karla Kutzner and Stefanie Hirsbrunner have asked the multitalented German-Nigerian author, speaker and performer Olumide Popoola to curate the programme – and the result is a three-day festival packed with intriguing events.

Not only does the programme showcase great writing, but it also addresses questions about mechanisms in the literary field, e.g. in the panel: “Curating the Conversation. Influencing the Agenda. How do Publishers and Promoters of Literature open the Gates?” Questions about feminism, the relationship between past and present and language and colonial baggage, as well as a concert and a play are also part of this truly inspiring programme.

To explore migration far from the often negative associations, the organisers claim they want to “look at transnationalism and migration in a more literary sense of ‘keeping in motion’”:

“For three days and with the help of fiction, poetry, lectures and panel discussions African reality of life will be focused on. How do writers from Africa or the diaspora negotiate the changes that come with displacement, forced or chosen? How do writers approach the constant flux of place, and identity? Are they still bound by tradition or being truthful to notions of an “African Identity”?

Writing in Migration brings authors from three continents to Berlin whose books are literary visions and trendsetters all over the world. Together with curator Olumide Popoola they encourage their audience: Read Outside The Box.”

The full programme can be accessed via InterKontinental’s website: www.interkontinental.org/wim
Tickets are available as of today.

collage of authors participating in writing in migration

Writing in Migration: the Authors (c) InterKontinental

The agency InterKontinental was founded by Karla Kutzner and Stefanie Hirsbrunner. They represent African writers and sell their translation rights (and possibly also others) to publishers in German speaking countries. The agency represents the Cameroonian-British writer Clementine Burnley, Jude Dibia from Nigeria, Mouhamadou Falilou Dioum from Senegal, the poet Linda Gabriel from Zimbabwe, satirist Elnathan John from Nigeria, and the Ugandan poet and journalist Musa Okwonga (who recently chaired Nikesh Shukla’s reading at our joint event with the Centre for British Studies – link to blog entry). Via the agency’s website, you can find out more about the authors and their works, e.g. through excerpts, interviews and reviews.

And to end with yet another recommendation: Check out this interview with Stefanie Hirsbrunner by Porter Anderson for Publishing Perspectives in which she spoke about the agency’s work, the prejudice African writers often face in Germany, and the “Writing in Migration” festival (link to the interview).