Slam poetry artists from Berlin conduct German poetry workshop

Bas Böttcher, a poet of Berlin, Germany, speaks with a group of students about the essence of German poetry writing on Sept. 27.

Katie Daniels

German majors and minors participated in a poetry workshop by award-winning German poets on Wednesday evening.

The workshop was made possible by funding through the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. Bas Böttcher and Felix Römer, both of Berlin, gave a brief performance, and then helped students workshop their own slam poetry in the German language.

The event was organized by the German program in the Department of Modern Languages.

“We have almost twenty [students] who are majoring or minoring [in German],” said department head Laura McGee. Students from Murray State also attended the workshop.

Böttcher and Römer both performed several poems in German. A few of the poems included English subtitles projected on the wall behind the artists.

Böttcher explained the elements of slam poetry in German and in English. Slam poetry is all about sound, and the sounds of German are remarkably similar to the sounds heard in English, as both languages derive from the same family, Böttcher said.

“There are some things you can do on the stage, that you cannot do on the page,” Böttcher said.

These include elements like gestures, rhythm, and the silence between words. He also pointed out the double and triple meanings that words and phrases have when spoken aloud, which wouldn’t work in written form.

After the initial performance, students were asked to evaluate their language proficiency and split into two groups. Upper intermediate and advanced programs participated in a class led by Römer, and the lower intermediate and beginner students participated in a class led by Böttcher.

He also explained the four elements important in German poetry, and students were split into groups of three or four to compose a German poem together incorporating at least one of the elements.

Read more about Bas Böttcher here. Students interested in learning German should contact Laura McGee at [email protected]

Reporter Katie Daniels can be reached at [email protected] or through Twitter @authorkatielynn.