vienna lit festival 2008

17 - 20 April 2008

Thanks everyone for making it all happen!
Thanks to our wonderful audience!
See you all at our next festival in April 2010!

The second Vienna Lit Festival, which took place at Ratpack Vienna and Literaturhaus Wien, featured English-speaking authors from Austria and abroad and a range of literary genres, including novels, poetry, (short) short stories, debates and story-telling. Read more about the festival in our report (in German):


English Voices
Brian Patten
School Slam
Bruce Holland
Joe Brennan &
Clare Murphy
Gabriele Pötscher
& Walter Hölbing
open mic
“Lifting the
Charles Ofoedu
Jackie Kay
Rommi Smith


Gabriele Pötscher
Rommi Smith
Dardis McNamee
Sylvia Petter
Clare Murphy


Thursday 17 April

Festival launch

7pm | Ratpack Vienna

English Voices in Vienna

7.15pm | Ratpack Vienna | with Julia Novak
Our three authors come from very different backgrounds but share the experience of writing in English while living in Vienna. Sylvia Petter studied creative writing in Sydney. She has published numerous poems and short stories and is currently working on her second novel. Her latest story collection Back Burning was published in Australia in 2007. Sandra Huber from Canada is one of only seven people around the world to be admitted to the University of Toronto’s creative writing master class in 2004. She will be reading from her poetry chap book Assembling the Morrow and discussing the ‘learnability’ of creative writing and the various programmes on offer in Canada. Last but not least Michaela A. Gabriel is the Austrian element in our literary trio – she has been widely published both online and in print and is the author of two chapbooks - apples for adam, published by FootHills Publishing in 2005, and the secret meanings of Greek Letters, published by Dancing Girl press in October 2007. Sylvia Petter will be teaching a creative writing workshop Saturday afternoon!
©Glen Sweeney
©Bernardo Fernandez

©Steve Bond

Brian Patten: Live Poetry

8.15pm | Ratpack Vienna | with Chris Cummins
Brian Patten is one of England’s most popular poets. In the 1960s, he became famous for his performances with the “Liverpool Poets” Adrian Henri and Roger McGough. Their work has had a massive impact on British poetry ever since. His Collected Love Poems have recently been published by Harper. Over the years he has read alongside poets such as Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Smith, Laurie Lee, and Robert Lowell. His books have also been translated into Italian, Spanish, German and Polish. Come and experience the master of live poetry close up!

Labyrinth Poets: Round the world

9.15pm | Ratpack Vienna
A thirty-five minute poetic journey exploring the idiosyncrasies of place, people, and culture, featuring original work by Labyrinth Poets.
Founded in 1993, Labyrinth is a Vienna-based poetry group working primarily with the English language in a foreign-language environment. Labyrinth poets read, write, perform and publish both individually and collectively, with the aim of exploring and enhancing the perception and expression of the varieties of poetic experience.

Our first evening is rounded off by chill out music.

Friday 18 April


Vienna Lit School Slam!

6.00pm | Ratpack Vienna | with Barbara Treptow | €4.50/€3
Jackie Kay’s poem “My Grandmother” is the starting point for a poetry competition that Vienna Lit is organising for secondary school pupils in Austria.
Students are encouraged to write their own poems in response – the best 18 will be invited to recite their texts at the Vienna Lit School Slam 2008 in front of our festival audience. The atmosphere will be crackling at this second contest of the young bards!
(Entries accepted until 23 March, for details see

Bruce Holland Rogers: The Short Short Story

7.15pm | Ratpack Vienna | with Georg Drennig
American writer Bruce Holland Rogers is the author of over 200 stories. His work has won diverse honours such as the Pushcart Prize, two World Fantasy Awards, two Nebula Awards, and the Jonny Cat Litter-ary Award for cat-related fiction. No, we didn't make that up. He offers his stories by email ( to subscribers in 70 countries in English, French, Bulgarian, German, and Chinese. Rogers lives in Eugene, Oregon.
©Holly Arrow


Joe Brennan & Clare Murphy: Irish Tales

8.15pm | Ratpack Vienna
The storyteller Joe Brennan hails from Donegal in Ireland and enchants his audience with traditional folk tales and myths from his native country. His play for children, The Witchin’ Well, is currently being performed by Barnstorm Theatre Company all over Ireland. Clare Murphy has told stories to children of all ages from 1-100 years old. Her magical mythical tales have earned the young Irish storyteller numerous appearances at national and international festivals, including Ondas de Contos Festival in Lisbon, Choowaawaa Childrens Festival, Skiberreen Co, Cork, and at the Children's Museum of Denver, Colorado, USA. 
Clare Murphy will be teaching a children’s story telling workshop Sunday morning.

Gabriele Pötscher & Walter Hölbing: She says He says

9.00pm | Ratpack Vienna
Gabriele M Pötscher and Walter W Hölbling, both teachers at the University of Graz, Austria, outed their poetic „secret selves“ in their first volume of poetry, Love, Lust, Loss. After a very encouraging reception and successful readings in Europe and the USA, they again shared their experiences and perceptions in poetic dialogue in a second volume, Think Twice. Walter and Gabriele are also active in  Password (, a collaborative project on the www between writers and artists across national boundaries.
Gabriele Pötscher will be teaching a creative writing workshop Saturday morning.


Open Mic: come and read your own work

9.30pm | Ratpack Vienna
Calling all budding writers: this is the opportunity to share your work and encourage the rest of us to have a go. Please come and read your English poems/stories/musings aloud.

Saturday 19 April

“Lifting the Veil”: Mehru Jaffer in debate with Dardis McNamee & Irene Monjoye

7.00 pm | Ratpack Vienna | with Melanie Feratova-Loidolt
Mehru Jaffer is the critically acclaimed author of the “Book of Muhammad”, which is her own quest to understand the teachings of Islam through this lucid yet profound retelling of the life of one of the most widely discussed figures to-day, the prophet Muhammad. Indian author Mehru Jaffer, US journalist Dardis McNamee and author Irene Montjoye will lead this cross-cultural discussion on Muslim women in Austria. The audience is given the opportunity to question their assumptions on the so-called ‘advanced’ Western culture and its relationship with the Islamic world. This event is hoping to open up new perspectives in an effort to promote intercultural understanding.
Dardis McNamee will be teaching a journalism workshop Saturday afternoon.


Charles Ofoedu: A Marriage of Cultures

8.00 pm | Ratpack Vienna
Charles Ofoedu is a product of our times: he is Nigerian, lives in Austria, writes and performs his plays all over Europe and publishes his work both in Austria and the USA. This international spirit of the artist is mirrored in his work, which often deals with people’s struggles in an inter-cultural environment. His approach of having his poems acted in the plays or directing people with no acting experience is authentic and appealing. The author will introduce examples of his work from various genres.

Jackie Kay: The Poetics of Adoption Papers

8.45 pm | Ratpack Vienna | with Susanne Reichl
Born to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father in Edinburgh, Jackie Kay was adopted by a white couple at birth and raised in Glasgow, Scotland. This experience inspired her first collection of poetry, “The Adoption Papers” (1991) which immediately revealed the young writer’s promising talent and won her several awards. Several collections of poems later and after having published a great number of prize-winning literary works of different genres, Jackie Kay comes to Vienna to read some of her powerful poetry and talk to the audience about her gripping life and work in an interview with Susanne Reichl of the University of Vienna.
For more information on the author see
Supported by Dr. Irene Monjoye
©Denise Else


Rommi Smith: Mornings & Midnights

9.45 pm | Ratpack Vienna
Rommi Smith is a celebrated British spoken word artist and singer. Her poetic creations are highly musical: her lively use of rhythm and timbre conveys her boundless delight with language. Smith is the first author to hold the position of "Writer in Residence" of the British Parliament. She will be reading from her captivating collection Mornings & Midnights and present some new work.
Rommi Smith is accompanied by guitarist Kenneth James Higgins. Kenny was introduced to the guitar by his father at the age of seven and has been touring with various gospel choirs and singing groups since age 16. In 1992 he was selected for the black music showcase run by Leeds College of Music and directed by Geraldine O’Connor. Since then he has toured the world with a wide variety of artistes and bands, soaking up new ideas and playing styles along the way.
Rommi Smith will be teaching a creative writing workshop Saturday afternoon!


Vienna Lit Workshop series

Places are limited!

Saturday 19 April

The World of Your Words: Gabriele Pötscher

10.00am | Literaturhaus Wien
A workshop for the poetry-minded: either experienced or novice. To initiate our sessions we will look at examples of various types of poems which we can then, in groups, pairs or individually, try out ourselves. Participants will be encouraged to read their new poems, give feedback to each other with particular attention to the words chosen and their poetic impact as well as to the oral presentation.
Gabriele Pötscher teaches English at the University of Graz and, together with her colleague, Walter Hölbling, has published two books of poetry, LOVE LUST LOSS and THINK TWICE. She has done poetry workshops as well as readings in Austria and abroad.


Poetry in Performance Workshop: Rommi Smith

12.00pm | Literaturhaus Wien
Explore the sound of your words off the page. Experiment with styles, forms, ways of expressing yourself in live performance. Discover tips and techniques for developing confidence in sharing your work with an audience. An exciting and essential workhop for anyone interested in working with words, whatever their level of experience. This is your chance to work learn from the UK Parliament’s first Writer in Residence, a mistress of words on and off the page!

Dardis McNamee: Creative Non-Fiction

2.30 pm | Literaturhaus Wien
Journalism at its best makes the truth come alive, using the tools of Fiction in the service of Fact. Our goal in this workshop will be to learn to shed light on a personality or an issue, on ideas, trends or cultural phenomena of the time, using scene-by-scene construction, and the descriptive and narrative techniques of novelists. Ideally, this will mean creating a world full of locations, characters, events and narrative description and analysis that will enact and illuminate your theme for the reader.
Prof. McNamee is Director of the Vienna Journalism Institute and Research Professor in Media Communications at Webster University, Vienna; and founding Editor in Chief of The Vienna Review. The US journalist and playwright will draw on her wide-ranging experience to give workshop participants effective strategies to develop their journalistic writing compelling -- and marketable.

©Glen Sweeney

The “Tell” of Smell – Sylvia Petter

4.30 pm | Literaturhaus Wien
The short story is a distillation of moments that lead to change in a character and perhaps also in a reader. For the distillation of such moments writers are often encouraged to “show, don’t tell”, to engage all the senses. But the sense of smell is often neglected. With examples from short stories and with exercises linking memory to smell, students will explore how to enhance elements such as character, setting and theme so as to make their stories resonate. Prize-winning Australian author of short stories and poetry, Sylvia Petter, studied Creative Writing in Sydney and is currently writing her second novel.

Sunday 20 April

Storytelling for Children – Clare Murphy

10.00 am | Pfarrheim Gumpendorf, see venues page
A workshop for children between 7 and 10 years old who have some basic English knowledge. Come and play with stories!  A fun and active workshop with Irish Storyteller Clare Muireann Murphy that brings out everyone's inherent ability to play creatively and develop their own stories.  Irish storyteller Clare Muireann Murphy has given workshops to adults and children alike, from teachers to actors to ‘youth at risk’ groups. 


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