Over our 44 year history, Descant has sometimes produced themed issues about particular places, like Boznia and Herzegovina (2012), Sicily (2011) and Cuba (2006). To this list we now add Berlin. Planned years in advance by Guest Editor Katie Franklin to coincide with the 25th commemorative events of the fall of 1989, our Berlin issue is scheduled for launch at the Goethe Institut in Toronto on September 19th.
Berlin 166 is a hefty issue, as befits a city that divided the 20th century when it was itself divided. And everyone old enough to remember can tell you where they were when the news broke on November 9th, 1989. Twenty five years later, the capital of Germany is a powerhouse of arts and culture, high-tech industry, research and… night life!
Here’s Production Editor Jack Hostrawser to give you the tour and the details of Berlin 166.
The 166th issue of Descant is better than a trip to Germany. That’s because, in our pages, you get to swim in a wash of beautiful scenery and experience the flavours of history and culture but you won’t get sunburned or have to deal with sweaty crowds or discover that Air Canada has shipped your luggage to a research station in Antarctica by mistake. So, forget the cramped airline seats and the screaming babies and come with us as we venture into Berlin through the imaginations and memories of our contributors. Here’s a preview.
One of our featured memoirs, “Still Life With Potatoes” by Barbara Ponomareff, poignantly explores the difficult years after the war through the eyes of the author as a child. Memory haunts the daily tableau of mundane objects, such as the vegetables we buy without thinking at supermarkets, and doorways open through them to the cluttered streets of our past.
Two different portfolios of artwork digest the experience of living in Berlin and its culture. “Berlin Burlesque” by Anja Nolte reminds me of the sensuous but dangerous animations Gerald Scarfe created for Pink Floyd The Wall, distorting and enhancing our view of the city’s characters. Trevor Corkum takes us into the living city with “When We Die,” to discover the ghosts that haunt it and the ways history shapes the present. “Iron Gall” by Mark Dudiak explores our distracted attention and the psychic layering of sights and sensations we experience as we move through the Strassen of Berlin.
Humourist, celebrity DJ and best-selling author Wladimir Kaminer opens up with wit and charm in an interview with Amy Stupavsky. Kaminer talks about how his writing has changed over time, the cultural experience of a Russian immigrant living in Berlin and the relationship between fiction and reality.
Elsewhere in the issue, the poetry of Carson Butts takes us into the pounding tempest of a Berlin Marilyn Manson concert, Matt Santateresa rushes us along a German Autobahn as our minds begin to wander to dark and sexy places and Gisela Argyle introduces us to the poetry of Kito Lorenc and Friedrich Ani in newly published translations. Contributing editor Alberto Manguel muses on the death and life of Heinrich Heine and co-editor Larissa Kostoff discovers the German words we might wish English had, and the transformative power that an intersection of language can hold.
Even after that, there’s still a fount of vibrant new poetry, fiction and thought. Our list of other contributors includes: George Elliott Clarke, Stephanie Warner, Rebecca Gould, Mark Anthony Jarman, Susan Ingram, Ellen Shearer, Barry Dempster, Karen Mulhallen, Robert Lake and more.
Want to get your hands on a copy of the issue? Descant’s Wanderung through Berlin will soon be available from booksellers across the country and at our exciting launch event in the stylish, expansive library of the Goethe-Institut Toronto. Here are the details:
Friday, September 19th, 2014
100 University Avenue, Toronto
Second Floor, North Tower
Our four talented readers will perform pieces of their writings, with memoir, fiction and poetry on tap. Come see lively performances by Barbara Ponomareff, Barry Dempster, Ophelia John and George Elliott Clarke!
Thanks to our generous donors, there will also be an exciting raffle of prizes from a variety of journals and publishing houses, including New Star Books, Tightrope Books, Koyama Press, Harbour Publishing, Echolocation and Existere.
Also: by special arrangement, we will be offering new subscribers an exclusive, launch-only discount. Discover a full year’s worth of all the agile writing and excellent design in Descant for only $20. Single copies of the latest issue will be available at the launch at a savings of over thirty percent off the newsstand price.
For more information about the readers, the magazine, the launch and to RSVP your attendance, please visit our Facebook page today.
Vielen Dank and we hope to see you there!
—Jack Hostrawser, production editor for Berlin 166