Words by Dan Ayres
If you’re anything like me, it’s not just Berlin’s wild nightlife, liberal attitude and abundance of cheap booze that keeps you captivated. The city is also a positive Shangri-La for those of a literary persuasion, with more reading nights than you can shake a battered old Christopher Isherwood book at. However, like all the best things in this enigmatic city, you often have to scratch beneath the surface to uncover these jewels. New arrivals appear regularly, old favourites go on hiatus. Luckily, at The Reader we have plenty of experience of attending arty-farty-literary-parties, and it is my pleasure to shine a light on just a few of them right now.
First up, our friends at Fiction Canteen host a popular bi-monthly reading night, now at the new location of Ausland on Lychener Strasse. The brainchild of lit lover Lucy Jones, Fiction Canteen is a supportive space for all writers, but particularly those from the LGBTQ+ community, writers of colour and writers with disabilities. Either go along and take your seat among the supportive audience or consider submitting your own work to firstname.lastname@example.org – readings are fifteen minutes long and there are four writers hosted at each event. If you present your work, you’ll receive insightful feedback. Unpublished writers are actively encouraged to apply!
Not to toot our own trumpet, but The Reader Berlin also hosts some top notch literary events. Our Monday Salon nights have seen writers at the forefront of contemporary literature make an appearance, including novelist and short story writer Irenosen Okoji, Booker-longlisted author Sophie Mackintosh, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Ben Fergusson… just to name a few! Our events are scattered throughout the year, so it’s worth keeping an eye on our website and signing up to our newsletter to keep in the loop.
Keeping it in the family, our very own events organiser Traci Kim has single-handedly set up one of the most popular reading nights in the whole city! Literally Speaking is a monthly reading event with a difference – a small entrance fee is taken by members of the audience which is later split between the writers sharing their work. Traci is passionate about giving Berlin-based writers a platform and paying them back for their graft, as well as hosting visiting star authors. If you’re looking to hear exciting, fresh work in a friendly environment (whilst boosting the Berlin literary scene) this is the place to come.
Queer Stories takes place in the basement of Another Country Bookstore, Berlin’s haven for English-language books and writers. Hosted by talented writer Anna Geary Mayer, this is a safe, friendly and comfortable environment to share queer stories as well as copious amounts of food and wine. (Note – Queer Stories is currently on hold until the opening of the second Another Country venue. Keep your eye on their social media for announcements).
If you’re less interested in attending readings and more interested in boosting your own word count, Shut Up and Write is the ideal destination for you. Writers of Berlin swear by this weekly writing event, currently held at Handbestand Buchladen on Brunnenstrasse, which brings together a room full of writers, instructs them to keep schtum and requests they get scribbling! For the chatterboxes among you, never fear; there are opportunities for a natter, a brag or a cry (depending on how the writing went) during the break and after the event.
Isn’t Everything Poetry? Agree or disagree? There’s only one way to find out – go along to this monthly poetry night held at the delightful Curious Fox bookstore in Neukolln. The stage plays host to two or three guest poets, often travellers from far-flung corners of the globe, before opening up to any other potential poets in the crowd.
Our friends over at the fabulous SAND journal not only curate one of the finest regular literary publications in the city, they also run some top notch events. These can take the form of Launch Parties (the next one’s coming up on November 30th), readings from original writers and even collective ghost stories! Give them a like on Facebook to see what’s coming up.
What better combination than Whisky & Words? This ‘cosy community’ delivers five minute performances from the city’s many wordsmiths and washes them down with some fine whisky. This monthly reading night is held at Keith Pub and would-be readers can sign up in advance by giving the team a message on Facebook. In their own words – “Drinking whisk(e)y is not compulsory but it is appreciated.”
And finally, don’t forget about the various festivals that come and grace the city throughout the year, including the Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin held in September, the all new African Book Festival in April, and the British Council’s brilliant Literature Seminar in January.
Have we missed any of your favourite Berlin Literary events off the list? Let us know by getting in touch via social media!
Thanks for reading! Dan @ The Reader Berlin
*Update* – We received some great recommendations from all you literary lovers in Berlin. Be sure to check out the following:
October 26th, 7pm – ‘Literature and Urban Space’ panel hosted by InterLause, at Lausitzerstr. 10 Kreuzberg. With Katy Derbyshire, Annett Gröschner, Sarnath Banerjee and moderated by the fabulous Florian Duijsens. More details soon. Recommended by our very own Reader tutor Fatin Abbas.
21st November is the presentation ceremony for The New Irish Writing in Germany Award 2018, with the Irish Embassy and The Wild Word. You can RSVP here: https://bit.ly/2E7E7vV. Recommended by the legendary Erin O’Loughlin
Always worth checking out the Lettrétage – das Literaturhaus in Berlin Kreuzberg programme. Recommended by Kate McNaughton.
The lovely LCB (Literarisches Colloquium Berlin) has tonnes of great literature events, many of which include English-speaking international guests. Yaa Gyasi is coming up on the 17th (https://www.lcb.de/home/). Also a beautiful position on Wannsee Lake, with events held in the villa garden in summer. Recommended by Ben Fergusson.
The is intermittently literary 🙂 Next one on Nov 27 will feature Mary Shelley! Recommended by Florian Duijsens.