In Absentia: Photo Journals from Readings Abroad

Catch what you missed from two special events, plus the details on what's next

Happy Monday, Asymptote readers! We kick off the new week with two literary dispatches from South Africa and Germany.

Asymptote Editor-at-Large Alice Inggs attended the launch of the latest Ons Klyntji issue in Cape Town:


Alice Inggs outside the Book Lounge

“What is Ons Klyntji?” is a question often asked of its editors. The answer? Complicated: the unconventional pocketbook anthology has been through several incarnations throughout its 120-year history. First published in 1896 as the first ever Afrikaans-language publication, it has transformed into a modern literary zine, currently under the editorship of Toast Coetzer, Erns Grundling, and Asymptote Editor-at-Large Alice Inggs, featuring predominantly English and Afrikaans poetry and prose, but also multilingual pieces, translations, and works by graphic designers and fine artists.

Over the years, Ons Klyntji has published a number of celebrated South African writers, including Rian Malan (My Traitor’s Heart), Breyten Breytenbach (Confessions of an Albino Terrorist), and musician-author Koos Kombuis (who also edited Ons Klyntji in the 1990s). Recent editions have featured work by established poets Nathan Trantraal (Chokers en Survivors) and Moses Mtileni (ed. Ntsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula); writer Jaco van Schalkwyk (The Alibi Club), and controversial artist Anton Kannemeyer (Bitterkomix), as well as a new generation of poets like Sindi Busuku-Mathese (Loud and Yellow Laughter), Genna Gardini (Matric Rage), and Rosa Lyster (Modern Rasputin).


Editor of Ons Klyntji, Erns Grundling

Since 2015, Ons Klyntji has hosted an annual event at the Book Lounge, an independent bookstore in Cape Town. The event acts as a platform for writers featured in Ons Klyntji to share their work with a live audience, as well as a way of promoting the zine to readers and future contributors. The event also helps to underscore the main aim of Ons Klyntji: to encourage South African writers to write—be they eminent authors, emerging poets or even teenagers penning their first, awkward verse.


Botha Kruger and Clive E. Smith, a contributor to the magazine

This year’s issue came out on Wednesday, December 14. The launch celebration had a great turnout, and fifteen writers shared exciting excerpts from the new Ons Klyntji as well as other writings. Highlights included readings by Sindi Busuku-Mathese, Toast Coetzer, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Clive E. Smith, and data journalist and sometime poet Le Roux Schoeman.

Check out the full event calendar for The Book Lounge for similar upcoming fun, and we’re looking forward already to the next issue of Ons Klyntji!

The Asymptote Chilean Editor-at-Large Tomás Cohen sent us this report from an ongoing multilingual reading series in Hamburg:


For the past two years, the HAFEN LESUNG has established itself as one of the most relevant new reading series in Germany. Based in Hamburg, a cosmopolitan harbour city, the Hafen Lesung serves a new audience for contemporary literature, in which multiple generations and cultural backgrounds coincide. Drawing on the historic aura of the port of Hamburg as a five-century old crossroads for many languages and cultures, each installment of this bi-monthly reading series features authors writing in least five different languages. Each reads in their original language and then in the German translation. It also brings together poetry and prose, well-known and those yet to be widely discovered.


attendees to the latest HAFEN LESUNG event

The venue, Golem, is one of Hamburg’s finest clubs and a centre for alternative culture, right on the river Elbe. The series is made possible thanks to the kind support of Stadtkulturförderung Altona, Kulturbehörde Hamburg, and Hamburg’s Writers Room.


The crowd at the latest HAFEN LESUNG event

The Hafen Lesung has featured the celebrated German poet Monika Rinck—both as author and as translator—whose poetry has been reviewed by Asymptote‘s Poetry Editor, Aditi Machado. Hafen Lesung’s most recent iteration featured the Indonesian writer Laksmi Pamuntjak, who has also been published and reviewed by Viki Holmes in the journal.


“New Zelander writer Tessa Scott and Found in Translation collective members Lubi Barre and Hugh James.”

The HAFEN LESUNG is organised by Found in Translation—an international writer’s collective that since 2014 strives to make Hamburg’s literary scene more dynamic and multilingual and is made possible thanks to the kind support of Stadtkulturförderung Altona, Kulturbehörde Hamburg, and Hamburg’s Writers Room. Stay tuned for details on the next in this series!


from the most recent HAFEN LESUNG event

[photos courtesy of David Reimann, Nico Scagliarini, and Alice Inggs]

Tomás Cohen is Asymptote‘s Editor-at-Large for Chile.

Alice Inggs is Asymptote‘s South Africa Editor-at-Large. She has an MA in Media Theory and Practice from the University of Cape Town. Alice works as an editor and writer and has contributed to a number of literary, arts, and pop culture publications, including Ons Klyntji, Economic Observer, Monocle, VICE and Rolling Stone.


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