Goethe-Institut Toronto

Immersion Weekend 2003: Kinder- und Jugendliteratur im DaF-Unterricht

The weekend began on Friday, October 17th, when a full house welcomed Dr. Bernd Seydel in a performance sponsored by the Goethe Institute, the OATG and the Department of Germanic Languages at U.of T. Bernd Seydel is a dada speech artist who had us spell-bound with his ‘Oral Acrobatics’, performing experimental poetry by artists such as Kurt Schwitters, Hans Arp, Hugo Ball, Raoul Hausman, Otto Nebel and others. Listeners were amazed by Seydel’s sound repertoire and breath-taking oral skill. From the short dramatic “Sneeze”, the witty, satirical 9-letter-“Unfeig”, the irreverent “Homage to the stutterer”, the wonderful love poem “An Anna Blume” to the final 24 minute “Ur-Sonate” , Seydel’s interpretation was a feat to behold. It was in 1916 that the first artists of the dada movement started exploring speech as pure sound, performing at the Café Voltaire in Zürich, protesting stale art forms and the mindset of the bourgeois. Although the poets’ “primal attraction to sounds and rhythms unmoored from rational meaning” (see www.dr-seydel.de) or as Seydel calls it “die Kunst des gehobenen Unsinns” (the art of elevated nonsense) was perhaps intended to be experienced without comment, the audience clearly appreciated Bernd Seydel’s introductory remarks especially in preparation of the climactic “Ursonate”. The “innermost alchemy of word, sound and rythm” (Hugo Ball) and Seydel’s artistry, humour and warmth kept us enthralled.