Photo of Esther
Esther Heller ist unsere erste #UKGermnay2018 'Artist in Residence'. Sie hat für uns am #BritLitBerlin und Workshops mit Nick Makoha teilgenommen und ihre eigenen Arbeiten als Reaktion erstellt. ©

Poliana Baumgarten

Esther Heller, unsere erste #UKGermany2018 'Artist in Residence'

Vielfalt, Verlust, Gender - alle diese Themen haben Esthers Schreiben und Gedichte beeinflusst, welches sie bereits mit 9 Jahren begann. Ihre Kindheit hat Esther in Mombasa, Kenia, verbracht, bevor sie nach Berlin gezogen ist. Wie hat ihre Herkunft ihr Leben beeinflusst?

Wir freuen uns, dass wir Esther zum diesjährigen British Council Literatur Seminar in Berlin einladen konnte. Sie hat ihre eigenen Gedichte und Gedanken als Antwort und Interpretation auf die Seminarthemen verfasst und sich gemeinsam mit anderen Poeten und Teilnehmern unseres Wettbewerbs mit den Themen Gender und Sexualität befasst.

Schau dir an wie sie #BritLitBerlin 2018 erlebt hat

"Ich bin stolz mich eine der Artists in Residence des British Councils in Berlin nennen zu dürfen. Das bedeutet, dass ich an verschiedenen kulturellen Veranstaltungenund Projekten teilnehmen werde, die der British Council dieses Jahr veranstaltet.

Ich habe die Möglichkeit eine Anzahl verschiedener SchriftstellerInnen zu treffen, die die Britische Literatur Szene beeinflussen. Bereits beim ersten Seminar, an dem ich teilgenommen habe, hatte ich die Möglichkeit mit  Bernadine Evaristo, Nick Makoha, Kate Hudson, Monique Roffey und Sabrina Mahfouz zu sprechen. Ich hatte außerdem die Chance, an einem Workshop mit der talentierten Sabrina Mahfouz teilzunehmen, und mehr über das Schreiben für die (Theater-)Bühne zu erfahren.

Ich möchte gerne mein Jahr als 'Artist in Residence' dokumentieren und euch alle mit auf meine Reise nehmen. Ich bin mir noch nicht ganz sicher, was am Ende des Jahres alles passiert sein wird - aber ich weiß schon jetzt, dass ich wahnsinnig viel lernen werde.

Schreiben über Gender, Sexuality und Feminismus

Die Themen Sexualität, Gender und Maskulinität stehen gerade heute sehr in der Diskussion. Aus diesem Grund war es besonders spannend verschiedene Stimmen aus der Literaturszene zu diesen Themen zu hören.

Im Bezug zum Thema Gender hat Juno Dawson mich sehr beeindruckt - was sie berichtet hat, ist mir besonders im Kopf geblieben. Sie hat Dinge in Frage gestellt, die auch mich bereits beschäftigt haben und mir das Gefühl gegeben, dass ich das Recht habe diese Sachen zu hinterfragen. Sie hat sich auf Simone de Beauvoirs berühmtes Zitat "Man wird nicht als Frau geboren, man wird es" bezogen und mich so sehr inspiriert, dass ich das reflektierende Stück "When did I become a woman?" [Wann wurde ich zur Frau?" verfasst habe.

Die Lesungen, Diksussionen und der Austausch mit den anderen TeilnehmerInnen und PoetInnen hat mich dazu inspiriert zwei Gedichte zu den Themen des Seminars zu schreiben. Mein zweites Gedicht, Farina, wurde durch das Zitat einer der beeindruckenden Frauen des Seminars inspiriert:

"Als Frau gibt es Teile deines Ichs, die in der Gesellschaft nicht ernst genommen werden"

nature fotography esther Heller
During the workshop, Esther also met and collaborated with another poetry competition winner and participant Marie-Teresa Hanna. Both artists instantly connected and shared their experience by creating their own poems and responding to each others. They picked up the strong imagery of nature in their work as an inspiration. ©

Esther Heller

"When did I become a woman?" von Esther Heller

         When did I become a woman?
When did I become a girl?
I used to explore the bodies of all my friends
my mother had told me it was bad to touch the area
between my thighs
we children played doctor to find an explanation

          getting caught and the shame that I felt made me stop asking why

at the age of 9
I was afraid to wake up and find blood between my legs,
I had heard that all girls will bleed one day
boys were separated from girls during that period
they could stop the bleeding
in 8th grade boys and girls were separated during P.E.

         Did I become a girl during that separation?

when my period came you locked the door, to protect the men
from being exposed to this filth
I would now have to clean myself extra hard
she handed me pads and told me that
on my period I was to use the toilet downstairs
I was not allowed to go and pray
dirty and no longer holy, once a month for a week
some would paint their nails
eat what they wanted
some would lock themselves in the bathroom, ball themselves in a corner
miss classes, get scolded, yet seal their lips did not expose
convincing ourselves that this pain was unreal, we were pretending
you said my periods made me a woman now
I could lose my life in missing my menstruation for 9 months to give birth
to another life
no longer a child at 12 but a fertile body
needle and string sowed my thighs shut
but did I really sow them shut?
when it was your words that stitched out and in?

       Did I become woman?

the day I said                                    NO
and you told me that I meant to say YES
body still lying
claiming all the space
I pushed your body’s pulling gravity
fighting you and ran out the door
was I still a woman, when you shouted whore?
telling everybody that you had been inside me, I was now just used up

       Is my body a onetime experience?

Did I become a woman?
in front of the mirror that you held
my body transitioned
my breasts became tempting
my derriere resenting
my arms a resting place for chub
fingers pressing pinching, slapping
cutting open the green mambas
that ran through my wrists
pushing the venom out
you said I was poison
I lie and I cheat
gossip malicious
in competition for your mirror’s recognition
no woman is my friend
all I do is pretend
when I say that you
touched me inappropriately
that I too did not like that
did I though?
“that short skirt reflected something else you know…”
Woman
did you know?

"Farina" von Esther Heller

Farina

He told her that he loved her
more than every single grain of sand
his love turned vision to blur
she had lived in parallel universes
except for in one universe she could be herself
yet who was herself? 
this herself was a made-up character
she had seen on moving screens
herself
had to be exorcized
like they did to Farina 
Farina had a loud voice on that night
exploded her limbs wide, her legs spread on their own
yet that voice was not her own 
she danced in rotations
laughed in their faces
men came in waves drawing a circle
like a spur with knife edges 
they chanted and repeated
and repeated
infecting herself with their affirmations
this was not her
she had to let go of herself
they told the women to leave the room
only men could handle such evil
like clay they moulded her
beat and touched her
in a wheel they swayed
kaleidoscope of men
she wanted to leave
pressed her down
weight pushing, pressing,
tears perspiration blood urine
fluid herself oozing
in two weeksthey had rid her of herself
by marriage
they had shaped her to a vase
an ornament that they handed over
if signs of herself
try to form cracks
he beats them to stick
herself let go of the foetus
kicking herself out of her

Zusammenarbeit mit anderen KünstlerInnen auf dem Seminar

Während des Seminars habe ich auch eine weitere Gewinnerin des Gedichtwettbewerbs, Marie-Teresa  Hanna, Absolventin im kreativen Schreiben und Englisch an der Brundel University, getroffen, die aus Londone ingeflogen ist um am Seminar teilzunehmen. Ich habe mich ihr direkt verbunden gefühlt und sie gebeten, eine Antwort auf mein Gedicht "When did I become a woman" zu verfassen. Hier möchte ich auch ihr beeindruckendes Gedicht, "Mother Nature" vorstellen.

"Mother Nature" by Marie-Teresa Hanna

My darling daughter
Words are not enough
Let your anger ebb and flow through me
As we drown in oceans of experiences, tears and pain
Let your embers shine brighter than an amber candle flame
Let your life-giving blood pump and awaken you as you become one with me 

Climb to the highest mountain top and scream
Feel the dirt and gravel between your feet
Buried deep in your fingernails as you claw against the injustice of men
As you forget what it means to be feminine

Let your lungs breathe in a world which suffocates you
Sticks you in Russian doll-shaped boxes
As your mother tongue strips away your voice
For others to use
Abuse the physical body you thought you owned
Apart from here
Deep in the complexity of my roots 

Peel back the layers of who you are meant to be
And when you feel lost come find me
Search for me in the bright blue moon
The twinkling shaped stars
Rest in the gentle heat of my orange toned arms

I do not exist in broken corpses
Corrupted thoughts to inhibit and restrict me
Compressed into a simple noun - woman
For others to define

I am not a wo-man
Not wholly myself
Part of man
Mother
Wife
An empty vessel to be filled
Pink flesh to be entered and pressed and pulled

My darling daughter woman only exists amongst growing pains
For her body will never belong to her
As a slave to time
Waiting
Counting the days until she can sleep
And become a part of me

My darling daughter, set your mind free.
Leave this world. Come find me. 

Mache wie Esther an unserem Jahr voller kultureller Veranstaltungen in ganz Deutschland teil und bewerbe dich jetzt für unser Artist in Residence Programm.

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