Poetry Expo 23 / 10 March 2023

TRANS: Ein Dialog

Poetry Expo 23

The poet Sophie Reyer presenting her new poems of the project Trans: a dialogue between genders and cultures.

How do we see the other, the stranger? Why – in view of what has been said – does it seem ‘unnatural’, ‘perverted’, ‘strange’ to us? How can we understand this mechanism of exclusion and what can we do about it – especially here, in the field of literature? Every identity creates itself through differences, and there is always the ‘other’, whether it is seen, heard, perceived or not: it is present, and not infrequently it is neglected or suppressed-because that is how the mechanism of identity formation works. The question is: can the Other speak, can he be given a voice that is heard? A literary strategy can be two things: on the one hand, it can describe, it can make the subject appear in the text. But on the other hand, it can do more than that: through the act of writing, it can practice and exercise openness, openness to the Other. And this is what happens here: The differences between two voices participating here are enormous: gender, culture, homeland and above all: language. We start where we are: How can two poets (two genders, two cultures) communicate literarily, even write a text together, in respect for their roots, using their own mother tongue – and in a situation where the language of the two poets is not the same? in a situation where neither understands the other's language?

In the era of technological development, at least one technique is retrievable: That of computer/online translators. We will use these during the writing process to understand each other's texts. This opens up new possibilities of interaction: because in the field of poetry, online translators provide a version that is halfway understood, but it has to be edited to turn into poetry. This fact opens up possibilities for a new kind of interaction: a double process is at work: On the one hand, the space of the other is entered; on the other hand, the other is allowed into his or her own space. What at first appears to be a flaw in a computer translation – an insufficiently poetic translation, the impossibility of capturing subliminal meanings, etc. – becomes a new kind of interaction. – here becomes a new possibility: the creativity of the other is tickled out and thus erases the boundary between the entities. We entered the field in which the other can speak to us through our own, even if it sounds crazy! So it is necessary to explore boundaries – in all their meanings. Linguistically, culturally, gender-specific – and that means discovering the edges and corners of identity, which means as much as – after all, we are in the field of literature – the edges and corners of language itself ‘Trans’ is socially critical poetry that tries to feel the edges of words. Both gender – here a poet, here an author – and linguistic difference are to be questioned and linguistic difference are to be questioned and eroded here, so that a new language emerges in dialogue: So: on to the process, right?

Read the poems in English bellow.

Read the poems in Serbian and German bellow.

The project is part of the subthemes Opportunity, Future prospects and Connect not divide.


Sophie Reyer

Sophie (Anna) Reyer was born 1984 in Vienna. Since 2009 she is member of Graz-based literature magazine Lichtungen and head of JugendLiteraturwerkstattGraz for young people aged 14 to 19 at Literaturhaus Graz. From 2011 to 2014 she studied at ‘Kunsthochschule für Film und Medien’ in Cologne. So far she has published six books of poetry: geh dichte (EYE-Verlag 2005), binnen (miniaturen) (Leykam 2010), flug (spuren) (Edition Keiper 2012), die gezirpte zeit (Berger-Verlag 2013), skarabäen (art & science 2014) and Hörstück baumleberliebe (ö1). She was awarded Literaturförderungspreis der Stadt Graz in 2007, Manuskripte-Förderungspreis 2009, Startstipendium des bmukk 2009 and Literaturstipendium der Stadt Graz in 2013. Since 2016 she has a PhD in Philosophy. Sophie Reyer has published three novels – vertrocknete vögel (Leykam), baby blue eyes (Ritter) and Insektizid (Leykam 2014) – and three books of prose marias. ein nekrolog (Ritter, Klagenfurt 2013), Die Erfahrung (SuKulTur 2013) and Holzzeitstag (Taschenspiel 2014). She has also written various theatre plays, i.e. baumleberliebe (S. Fischer-Verlag 2012) and Anna und der Wulian (first performance 2014 at Badische Landesbühne). She is a protagonist in many fields of literary expression – and what seems to be so easy and so playful in her writing, is not only the high art of writing – based on an impressive range of know-how, knowledge and education – it is at the same the high art of pretending to be that easy. Comparable to the delicate act on the balancing beam, where – always provided the absolute bravura thanks to hard training – the laws of gravity lose validity in the eyes of the spectator.


More about the poet on this link.