We started our tour in Hebden Bridge, the home of Arc. It was very interesting to visit the old mill in Todmorden, where Tony, Angela, Sarah, Ben and Sue in some small rooms do all their exciting work for international poetry! Incredible how many books and how many poems and how many languages are stuffed into this area. The air seems to be humming with words!
I've never met a Tamil poet before, and I was really deeply impressed by Cheran's powerful language. Great poems, written in a "Time of Burning". Disturbing pictures of an apocalypse. Yet he writes also very gentle verses about love or having tea with a bear. It was a pleasure to read side by side with him. And I also enjoyed our whisky-tour in Edinburgh. In The World's End we tried several single malts, talking about the world's end, but also about more pleasant things. Cheran can be very funny. We really became friends during our tour.
Many thanks to Sarah and Ben, of Arc, and Jennifer Williams of the Scottish Poetry Library, for reading the English translations of my German poems so excellently. I think poetry should be performed without any foreign accent. They did it very, very well. My job was only to give an impression of the original German sound of my poems. Surprising for me, then, that after the readings many people from the audience told me that my German didn't really sound like German but much softer. Perhaps my Bavarian accent...
In Birmingham I had the opportunity to meet Michael Hulse, who speaks German nearly better than I do and who was - by chance - a lecturer at the same German university as me. His formidable poems are quite different from German poetry and so very interesting and inspiring for me.
In Birmingham I also met Hafsah, the filmmaker. She was really very friendly and indulgent to me, although my performance as an actor wasn't very convincing. You can decide when the film is finished...
The whole tour was a great experience for me. I'm very grateful to Arc!
Written and translated by Ludwig Steinherr