How Leeds/Dortmund 50 began
Leeds/Dortmund 50 started as Writers in Transit, an exchange project between Leeds poet, playwright and musician Peter Spafford and Dortmund poet Ralf Thenior. Here is how they described what they were doing back in 2017:
Peter Spafford (Leeds poet) and Ralf Thenior (Dortmund poet) have visited each other’s cities twice. They spent time walking about, looking, listening – always with a notebook and pen in hand. In addition, each poet read and spoke at a series of public and private events organised by the other poet.
The work that the poets wrote, and translated for each other, will be published in both languages in January 2019 and the poets will return to each other’s cities in Feb/March 2019 to jointly launch the book in another set of venues.
They had already started to discuss this return visit when they heard that 2019 is a significant anniversary for Leeds-Dortmund: the 50th anniversary of the twinning of Dortmund and Leeds.
Though the first city twinning was actually in the year 836 between Paderborn in Germany and Le Mans in France, ‘modern town twinning’ (according to Wikipedia) ‘was conceived after the 2nd World War to foster friendship and understanding between different cultures, and former foes, as an act of peace and reconciliation’.
Writers in Transit is only the first step towards a more extended cultural exchange between Leeds and Dortmund which Peter and Ralf hope to unroll during 2019’s anniversary year.
Well, it’s happening! Ralf is still very much involved with LD50. And his happy collaboration with Peter has resulted in a jointly written book published by vorsatzverlag entitled Road Markings/Reise-Gedanken, which will be on sale during the festival. Thanks so much for publisher Klaus-Peter Sachau for all his invaluable support.