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Wedding Slam Poetry Contests at PANKE

There’s a pair of really common mantras you’ll keep running into if you live in Berlin: the post-gentrification “Everything was better before” refrain, followed closely by the complaint that “there’s just no way to meet Germans and learn some language in this town when the bars are only full of tourists.”

As to the former, we all know that when in the beginning our planet Earth was just a pile of molten lava, everyone was fine. And then regarding the latter, we’ve got a solution for you: the Wedding Poetry Slam.

For those of you who don’t already know, a poetry slam is defined as “a competition at which poets read or recite original work”—thanks, Wikipedia.

The Wedding Slam is held every Thursday at the PANKE, a space for creative people located right next to the Wedding S-Bahn. Situated among the remains of a former industrial complex which now includes ateliers, restaurants and a gym—if this place had legs, it would be a walking stereotype.
Don’t be fooled by the English-sounding name. This weekly get-together is done entirely in German. If you want to stretch your Deutschkenntnisse to the max, or if you’re looking to cleanse your ears of the screaming of the masses escaped from the former commonwealth—this is the place for you. However, if you’re just looking for a drink—go to a Späti instead, because it’s cheaper that way.
These guys offer not only the stage for the poetry, but also maintain two MCs who share the job of opening the games and judging the public’s reactions (winner are decreed by acclaim), as well as setting up each contestant group.

Anyone can join and go on stage, provided they have written what they want to read aloud. I say read, because it’s not only poetry but also prose which find a place here. And it’s good. The night I went, many of the competitors had already had some books published in the German market, so it’s not always a case of Absolute Beginners vs. the World. At the same time, no one shall be cast away. Everyone has the same opportunity, and the audience is quite friendly. Winner takes all: prizes (usually of liquid and drinkable variety) and glory.

Be warned: if you’re in the audience, be ready for a stern language improvement; and if you’re going on stage, be sure to have a degree in German studies or at least six month of experience in a German warehouse, provided that the common language there isn’t Turkish. It’s the globalization, and we’re right in the middle of it.

The PANKE, which opened four years ago, has been partnered with the Poetry Slam for a little over a year, and also hosts a variety of programs, as well as an art exhibition. The venue includes a bar, a DJ set, a bistro with food, and a garden. Additionally, Wedding Slam has a number exciting events planned for the summer in different locations. In the past these have included creative competitions such as a Berlin vs. Hamburg verbal duel. You can keep in the know about their upcoming calendar by following Wedding Slam on Facebook.

If you’re up for a change of scene and you really want to understand what words like Freundschaftsbezeigungen mean, take yourself down to Gerichtstraße 23, Hof (courtyard) #5. It’s also a nice opportunity to get better acquainted with Wedding, an often under-appreciated Berlin neighborhood.

By Guido Mori

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