This year’s festival focuses:
Adonis – the Poetry of the Image
A Look into the Valley
Translation Colloquium with Yael Inokai

Adonis the Poetry of the Image

Adonis – the Poetry of the Image

Since the late 1980s, a rich, pictorial oeuvre comprised of drawings, collages, and painting has accompanied the writer and poet Adonis’ written works. Through this conjunction of image and written word, the writer not only communicates and interprets his own verse using a pictorial vocabulary, but also the verse of treasured poets – from antiquity to recent times. It is as if he were emphasizing and interpreting the character and essence of the poetry and texts. This is a concern that drives him as a poet and an author. Stefan Weidner, who has translated Adonis’ works into German, has noted in an afterword to one of his volumes of poetry that Adonis is always striving to reach “new levels of perception through language.”1

Alongside Adonis’ poems and essays, his imagery can be considered an independent artistic work. Nonetheless, the interweaving of word and image is also preserved in the works’ materiality: Adonis works primarily on paper, often with watercolor or ink. He makes collages, bringing textiles and found objects from daily life onto the picture.

He rarely, if ever, gives the works titles. Essentially, the texts already have titles from the moment of their original creation and are then subjected to a new, pictorial experience.

The works selected for this exhibition are for the most part works built around poems from Adonis’ most important publication, Songs of Mihyar the Damascene, from 1961. In this collection, according to his translator Stefan Weidner in an appreciation of the poet on his 90th birthday, Adonis resembles Nietzsche. Mihyar is a Muslim Zarathustra, who also announces the death of God: “Today I burned the mirage of the Sabbath / the mirage of Holy Friday… / and replaced…the god of the seven days / with a dead god.” Here again, Adonis has formulated a clear plea a secular world. These lines have become pictorial through light inks as well as through impasto layers of dark brown and black through which the writing shines in light yellow, orange, or red.

In addition to Adonis’ own poetry, there is a homage to another great practitioner of his craft, which is ultimately also an allusion to ancient and historical poetry and places. Ten large banners display the ‘Mu’allaqat’ (The Suspended Poems), the verses that were hung in the Kaaba in Mecca and thus testaments to a rich poetic tradition that still receives too little recognition in the western European tradition.

With his image compositions, Adonis shows himself to be an advocate as well as an artist – a champion and proponent of a literary tradition yet to be discovered.

Dorothea Schöne, curator of the exhibition

1 Stefan Weidner, epilogue, in: Adonis. Verwandlungen eines Liebenden. Gedichte 1958–1971, Frankfurt am Main 2014, p. 331–348, here p. 338.

Adonis in conversation with curator Dorothea Schöne and Stefan Weidner
See detailed program for time and place

Exhibition: 20 – 26 June 2023
in the Galerie St. Laurent and
in the Alter Bahnhof, Leukerbad

Opening hours:
During the festival: 10 – 18
Before and after the festival: 13 – 17

The pictures are a selection from the exhibition shown in Leukerbad. A list of all the works presented is available in the exhibition rooms.

A Look into the Valley

Down from the mountains and into the valley. We will look past the immediate surroundings of Leukerbad and make space for writers from the entire canton of Valais. In collaboration with MEEL, we will explore what opportunities are open to writers in Valais and what challenges they face in their work. Bilingualism, geographic particulars, proximity to the French and German markets—what is really on the minds of local writers?

Four writers will meet to discuss these topics at a table rondeRolf Hermann, Jérôme Meizoz, Abigail Seran and Céline Zufferey. In order to represent Valais adequately, this exchange will be held in French and German, and it will show that Valais has much more to offer than wine and apricots. Indeed, it has a lively and diverse literary scene which will be broadly represented in the Leukerbad International Literary Festival for the first time this year with A Look into the Valley.

Saturday, 24 June 2023
See detailed program for time and place

Translation Colloquium with Yael Inokai

Translation Colloquium with Yael Inokai

Translators are not only especially attentive readers, they’re also vital intermediaries between languages and cultures. In cooperation with the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin (LCB) and with the support of the cultural foundation Pro Helvetia, the Centre de Traduction Littéraire Lausanne (CTL) and Palais Valais, translators of German-language literature have been invited to Leukerbad again this year.

At the center of these two-day workshops there is always a recent work by a Swiss author – this year it is the novel Ein simpler Eingriff (A Simple Procedure) by Yael Inokai, published in 2022 by Hanser Verlag. This Berlin-based author has been awarded a Swiss Literature Prize and the Anna Seghers Prize. Six translators have been invited to work with the author on solving translation conundrums and meeting stylistic challenges style in her texts: Laura Bortot (Italian), Edina Čović (Bosnian), Zsuzsa Fodor (Hungarian), Marion Hardoar (Dutch), Camille Logoz (French) und Marielle Sutherland (English). The workshop will be led by Jürgen Jakob Becker (LCB). Reka Gaal from the CTL Lausanne will keep minutes of the colloquium.

The participants will present the results of the workshop and discuss their work as cultural border crossers at the Leukerbad Literary Festival.

The list of authors who have participated in previous translation colloquia include Peter Weber, Michel Mettler, Lukas Bärfuss, Katharina Faber, Rolf Lappert, Melinda Nadj Abonji, Christoph Simon, Arno Camenisch, Jonas Lüscher, Peter Stamm, Monique Schwitter, Urs Mannhart, Nora Gomringer, Gianna Molinari, and Ariane Koch.

A look into the translation workshop:
Saturday, 24 June 2023, 10

28th Leukerbad International Literary Festival: 6.21.–23.2024