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Basler Lyrikfestival 2024 - Festive Reading Loop To Mark The Anniversary


The Basel Poetry Festival is 20 years old. And so the festival not only meets in the bastions of writers such as the Literaturhaus, but also celebrates the anniversary reading in the foyer of the Schauspielhaus, where all the chairs are taken, so extra folding chairs have to be quickly conjured up from inside the theatre.
Various current and former members of the Basel Poetry Group read their own poems and poems by prizewinners from recent years. The whole thing moves across the (small) stage at such a rapid pace that you feel like you're sitting in a social media-esque infinity scroll for poetry. At the beginning, I try to memorise individual, very successful passages. But the names of the people I read immediately fly out of my head anyway. The first poem was wonderful. For some reason, the expression "Consciousness as a test image" stuck with me. Which, however, without the context of the text read, means everything and nothing at the same time. The excessive demands on my receptive capacity in this foyer are not only caused by what I read or by the many white-haired heads in the room who nod favourably at various of the people appearing because they know each other here.The overload is also intensified by the glass façade of the theatre, in front of which strolling Saturday strollers with children and dogs or even balloons walk up and down and come into the scanning area of the motion sensor of the glass sliding door at quite regular intervals, whereupon it opens with a kindly melancholy, only to let no one in, because the strollers would rather walk past the reading loops to do their Saturday shopping.
So a lot happens at the same time. Things happen inside and outside. They happen loudly and quietly, constantly changing and monotonously. You almost wonder how much space a poem needs? Can it simply be thrown out of a reader's mouth into the room without giving it time to get itself together, to equalise and shake itself out so that it can unfold its true effect? Perhaps I need a micro-dosing of poetry instead of a reading loop. Every hour, a poet gently stalks my ear from behind and whispers a few lines for me to ponder. Dalí once claimed that he had tamed the torrent of his impressions. I can't say that about myself. The torrent tumbles and cascades wildly and my thoughts and eyes wander to this and that. They stare through the façade and get stuck on some printed text which, because it is written and not spoken, I can actually take in and reflect on.
And so the advertising text on the neighbouring building echoes from the reading loop alongside the test pattern of consciousness:
"Exclusive: your new roof terrace with 202qm - for all tenants"