With our previous guides about the cultural contributions of Brazilian, Syrian, and Vietnamese creative people living in Berlin (and many others) we have already shed some light on the benefits of living in a city that embraces its international community. With this new feature, we are drawing a wider circle by highlighting some extraordinary talents from Europe’s black diaspora that will come together these days for the poesiefestival Berlin.
In a time like now, it becomes abundantly clear that we urgently need to listen more to Black voices. And what better voices to listen to, than those of poets and thinkers. The online edition of the 21st poesiefestival in Berlin that will be celebrating its opening night today has a beautifully diverse program with talents from all around the world. But one event has especially caught our attention.
Congolese poet Fiston Mwanza Mujila has been mapping the poetry of poets of African origin in Europe for some time now, as he found that black poets are not represented enough in the European poetry circuit. He found a lot of powerful texts that need to be heard, experiences from Africa and Europe that need to be shared. For the event “Unheard Poetry: Europe’s Black Diaspora” he is bringing some of the Black poets he found together, and I think it’s really important we listen to them.
In this feature, we want to introduce you to the talented Black poets that will present their work in this special event, as well as a few other events from the program of the festival. With each poet, we included a link to the event they participate in where you can watch the live stream, or a recording later on. Now it’s up to you, to listen.
Jumoke Adeyanju is active as a dancer, writer, curator, and Vinyl-DJ. Her many accomplishments include getting her BA title from Humboldt University in Area Studies Asia/Africa and founding The Poetry Meets Series. Adeyanju’s work has appeared in such international cultural institutions as Arthouse Foundation Lagos, African Artists’ Foundation, Galerie Wedding, CUNY NYC, and Deutschlandfunk Kultur.
Adeyanju live at poesiefestival: Poet’s Home (Corners) Treptow-Köpenick, June 2nd, 18h (A recording of this stream is already available to watch now)
photo: Musa Ganiyy
Koleka Putuma, who’s taking part in the opening night of the festival, is a poet, playwright, and director. Her poetry, which tackles subjects of inequality and violence, has been translated into multiple languages, and her first book, Collective Amnesia, is close to getting its 10th reissue.
Koleka live at poesiefestival: Weltklang – Night of Poetry, Friday, June 5th, 19:30h (Stream)
photo: Mawande Sobehtwa
Simone Atangana Bekono
Simone Atangana Bekono studied Creative Writing in the Netherlands. She is one of the poets featured in poesiefestival’s event “Unheard Poetry: Europe’s Black Diaspora”. Among other subjects, her poetry delves into the issues of body and identity. Bekono’s first literary work is scheduled for an English edition this year.
Bekono live at poesiefestival: Unheard Poetry – Europe’s Black Diaspora, Monday, June 8th, 19:30h (Stream)
photo: Masha Bakker
Kayo Chingonyi, whose poetry is inspired by rap, has had tremendous success with his first published work, Kumukanda (2017), which has been allocated prestigious titles and prizes, including the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award. Chingonyi’s work thematizes, among other subjects, living as a Black person in England.
Chingonyi live at poesiefestival: Unheard Poetry – Europe’s Black Diaspora, Monday, June 8th, 19:30h (Stream)
photo: Smart Banda
Raquel Lima is a spoken word poet who has reached multiple continents with her performances. Her work includes research on orality, slavery, and Afro-diasporic movements at the University of Coimbra, as well as teaching in workshops on poetry, skin color, and gender.
Lima live at poesiefestival: Unheard Poetry – Europe’s Black Diaspora, Monday, June 8th, 19:30h (Stream)
photo: Midia Ninja
Steve Mekoudja is a Berlin-based artist, uniting the talents of an author, poet, director, and musician. His award-winning work includes a short story thematizing the mass rapes in Congo. His multidisciplinary project “Ritual” was featured at the 2019 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival.
Mekoudja live at poesiefestival: Unheard Poetry – Europe’s Black Diaspora, Monday, June 8th, 19:30h (Stream)
photo: Sali Fayssal
Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Fiston Mwanza Mujila, who’s originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, had traveled across a few European countries before settling down in Austria. His literary work includes poetry, prose, and plays. Perhaps his most celebrated work is his first novel, Tram 83, which was awarded the Grand Prix du Premier Roman from the Société des Gens de Lettres and the International Literature Prize of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
Mujila live at poesiefestival: Unheard Poetry – Europe’s Black Diaspora, Monday, June 8th, 19:30h (Stream)
photo: Jürgen Fuchs
Dean Bowen, who will be taking the stage in the “superpowerpoetry” event in the 21st poesiefestival, combines the callings of a poet, performer, and psychonaut. His work, which delves into the issues of identity and its intersections with politics and society, has attracted international acclaim – and a nomination for the prestigious C. Buddingh’ Prize.
Bowen live at poesiefestival: Superpowerpoetry – Spoken Word meets Slam Poetry meets Hip Hop, Wednesday, June 10th, 20:30h (Stream)