Witnessed the series is excited to announce a call for submissions in creative writing and artwork for Arriving In The Future. Stories of Home and Exile
Edited by Asoka Esuruoso and Philipp Khabo Köpsell
Arriving in the future, Stories of Home and Exile will be an interdisciplinary approach to positioning. As a collection of poetry, short stories and academic essays on identity written by Black Writers who regard Germany as their home, and those who regard it as permanent or temporary exile, it will attempt to add a new layer to the debate and construction of Black Identity within the German context.
Submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will accept short stories, poetry, creative nonction essays, photography, drawing, and painting created by black writers who live or have lived in Germany.
You will retain all rights to your work but must give permission for its publication in Arriving In The Future.
• Maximum: 8 pages (ca. 4,800 words).
• No minimum.
• Poetry submission can be on any subject and should include title, author and translators, if relevant.
• Please submit in pdf or doc format.
• Essays should focus on identity and be submitted in doc format in standard 12pt font and include a title.
• Short Stories can take place anywhere but should have some reference to life and experiences in Germany, and should also be be submitted
in doc format in standard 12pt font and include a title.
• Art & Photography: all images must be at least 300 dpi and in JPEG format. Please send one image per email.
• Translation: writing can be submitted in German and will be translated into English.
• Bio: each author should submit a short bio, photo, and e-mail address along with their writing.
• Address: Submissions should be sent to: email@example.com
“From African-American GIs to Ghanaian exchange students, from African-Caribbean nurses to Black German musicians, from Black British IT specialists to African-Asian artists, peoples of the African Diaspora have lived in, shaped and have been shaped by Germany. The sharpness of our unique perspectives arise, among other things, from our mediation of multiple identities.” – Witnessed
Arriving in the Future. Stories of Home and Exile is an anthology of poetry, short stories and essays written in English language by Black writers living in Germany.
Writing is much more than expression, more than the spiritual liberation of the burden of knowing. It is the creation of new realities, of new unlimited space, a silent breaking of the frame to give space for a bigger picture. The existence of a thought gets to be a fact in black and white. It becomes a solid foundation for new perspectives.
The publications of “…und wenn Du dazu noch schwarz bist” (Edition Con) and “Showing our colors: Afro-German women speak out” (Orlanda) in 1984 and 1986 were testimony of the lives of Black people in Germany. Until then these stories, these experiences have been widely ignored by the white German mainstream. They were made public and were henceforth inscribed into German history. For those Black people living in Germany – for those living in isolation – these publications became undeniable proof for the validity of their personal experiences. These texts offered a foundation for numerous other publications and further literary expression. They gave a deeper background and a clearer focus that allowed further perspectives. To resume to the metaphor: It was the loudest silent breaking of a societal frame for an ever-growing multi-layered picture.
The literary themes have been as multilayered as the identities of the people involved. Just like Black identity, the themes remain subject to constant transformation. For Afro-German writers in the 1980s it seemed imperative to be regarded as part of German society. Black writers of other countries – may they have been travelers or refugees – rather focused on networking and the contribution of their own impulses. In the early 1990s German society suffered from the cultural hang-over of post-unification. Concerning the acceptance of a heterogeneous society Germany took a turn for worse. The firebombing of refugee homes, the reoccurring presence of neo-fascist mobs, a sudden mainstream acceptance of exclusivist rhetoric and a new idea of German “self” ( vs. “the other”) left undeniable traces in the writing of Black authors. It appeared loaded
with signs of restlessness and insecurity. „[E]s ist nicht wahr/ daß es nicht wahr ist/so war es/ erst zuerst dann wieder“. So reads the beginning of May Ayim’s poem Deutschland im Herbst, drawing disturbing parallels between the fascist Kristallnacht of November 9th 1938 and the murder of Angolan immigrant Antonio Amedeo in 1990.
Parallel to the desire for societal acceptance and a different question arose. Being a member of the African Diaspora, how does one define ‘home’? For many people with African roots (African-Americans respectively) the concept of home and belonging appears rather fragile. In the late 1990s many Black authors negotiate this concept. Africa (and the particular country of origin) was being depicted as exile, utopia, or potential new (resp. old) place of belonging. „I’m not at home/ still not at home/ not my country/ just my origin/ one of my origins” writes Olumide Popoola in her poem Nigeria – partly resigning, partly equivocating the matter.
Due to the emerging presence of Black Germans in mainstream media Black people are slowly being regarded as part of German society by the white majority. TV celebrities like Arabella Kiesbauer, Mo Ausmang and Mola Adibisi have already become part of many childhood memories of a generation of 20 – 30year olds. Yet how fragile the concept of Germaness remains became obvious in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The term Migrationshintergrund (migration background) gained questionable popularity. Nowadays it is being used as footnote for the description of all Germans deviating from the 1930s image of the “ideal German”.
Black writes encounter the diaspora. Accompanied by the academic discourse of Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic new alliances were being forged that stretch across the continents. Poetry seemed to brim over with Panafrican references from Ancient Egypt to the transatlantic slave trade all the way to 1960s Black power rhetoric. „Dreihundert Jahre alte Seelen/ über den Ozean geweht“, writes Angela Alagiyawanna-Kadalie. Chantal Sandjon’s lyrical I dreams of a „[…] revolution in red black & green“, the colours of Garvey’s Pan- African flag. The writing of the new millennium shows a major paradigm shift: The desire to be part of something much bigger.
It is certainly the job of academic scholars to examine these different historic layers. By doing so, they too will add an individual brush stroke. Negotiations of identity are never static nor are they free of contradictions. The various experiences and political positions of Black people in Germany are too complex to be reduced academic precision. Arriving in the future. Stories of Home and Exile is an interdisciplinary approach of a new positioning. It is a collection of poetry, short prose and academic essays written by those who regard Germany as their home and those who regard it as permanent or temporary exile – regardless of their status of citizenship. It is the attempt to bring different Black
perspectives – of this age in time – on paper. It is the attempt to provide a new space, to add different layers, to break the limiting frame of Black experiences one more time. For a bigger, more powerful, more impressive picture.
Publishers: Edition Assemblage, Münster
Witnessed Series, edited by Sharon Dodua Otoo
Editors: Asoka Esuruoso, Philipp Khabo Köpsell
Contributors: Asoka Esuruoso, Philipp Khabo Köpsell, Chantal-Fleur Sandjon, Ricky Reiser, Trish P. Schultz. RonAmber Deloney, Jamika Ajalon