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Transit of Venus inspires poets

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Six poets from opposite sides of the globe are meeting for a special once-in-a-lifetime experience next month.

The Transit of Venus Poetry Exchange brings together three German and three New Zealand poets to witness the Transit of Venus on June 6, followed by two public presentations in Wellington, where the poets will talk about the inspiration derived from their transit experiences.

The Transit of Venus is a rare astronomical phenomenon where Venus appears as a small dot gliding across the sun. On June 6, a series of celebrations will be centred at Tolaga Bay on the East Coast, where Captain James Cook anchored after witnessing this event in Tahiti in 1769.

The German poets visiting New Zealand are Uwe Kolbe, Brigitte Oleschinski and Ulrike Almut Sandig and will work alongside New Zealand poets Hinemoana Baker, Glenn Colquhoun and Chris Price in Tolaga Bay.

After the Transit, the group will head to Wellington to take part in creative workshops at Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters.

New Zealand host and International Institute of Modern Letters chair Professor Bill Manhire says the poets' visit offers a unique opportunity for an international exchange of language and culture.

"Poets have always gazed up at the stars, and it will be fascinating to watch how these creative minds spark off each other and to see how an event like the Transit of Venus inspires their work."

In October the New Zealand poets complete the exchange by travelling to Berlin to meet up with their German counterparts and to reinterpret each other's work with the help of translators in a unique cultural exchange.

The poets will then travel to Frankfurt to take part in a programme showcasing New Zealand's literary and artistic endeavours as part of the Frankfurt Book Fair, where New Zealand is this year's Guest of Honour.

The exchange is being organised by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Goethe-Institut New Zealand with funding support from the German Foreign Office, the Berlin Literaturwerkstatt and Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters.

Goethe-Institut director Bettina Senff said she was proud to be involved in such a creative endeavour that is not only of historical significance but would also highlight the talents of both countries' poets.

Media and the public are invited to two public presentations in Wellington:

Passages: Reading around the Transit Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University, Wellington Wednesday 13 June 2012 6pm Free entry A panel discussion with readings: German and New Zealand poets respond to the Transit of Venus 2012 celebrations at Tolaga Bay, exploring the process of writing about this extraordinary astronomical phenomenon

Berlin Poetry Night

New Zealand Film Archive, Ghuznee St, Wellington Thursday 14 June 2012 5pm Free entry Listen to the poets from Berlin and to Aur�lie Maurin from the Berlin Literaturwerkstatt introducing the ZEBRA poetry film award and the online poetry project LYRIKLINE.

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