By Bernadette Geyer-
Berlin has long been known for its thriving international arts and literary communities. It is equally known for the support that exists for writers and artists in the city. Centrally located within Europe, it is an easy train ride or flight to other major cultural destination cities, including Barcelona, Florence, Paris, and Prague, and serves as a font of inspiration for creative people from all artistic walks of life.
Many are familiar with writers such as Christopher Isherwood, Franz Kafka, and Robert Walser, who found inspiration for their stories in Berlin, and musician David Bowie, who recorded three albums while living in the city. Since moving to Berlin in July 2013, I have immersed myself in the local literary community and have found the following resources for international writers seeking short-term residencies here.
American Academy in Berlin
Located in the lakeside Hans Arnold Center in the Wansee neighborhood of Berlin, the American Academy offers annual Berlin Prize fellowships “to scholars, writers, and artists who represent the highest standards of excellence in their fields.” Past Fellows include poets Susan Howe, Tom Sleigh, and C.K. Williams, and novelists Kiran Desai, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Ha Jin. The upcoming class of Fellows for 2014-2015 includes writers Mary Jo Bang, Tom Drury, and Adam Ross. Fellows commit to spend one academic semester (fall or spring) at the Academy, and the prize includes a monthly stipend, partial board, and a residence at the Center in Wansee. The deadline for applications for 2015-2016 is September 29, 2014.
Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst/German Academic Exchange Service
DAAD North America
The Artists-in-Berlin Program (Berliner Künstlerprogramm) of the German Academic Exchange Service (commonly referred to as DAAD) provides about 20 grants to international artists in the fields of visual arts, literature, music, and film, for an approximately one-year stay in Berlin. The grant includes a monthly stipend, an apartment, workspace (studio), and funds for projects. U.S. writers who spent a year in Berlin through the program include Eugene Ostashevsky, Robert Creeley, and Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop. The deadline for applications to the program is January 1, 2015.
ZK/U-Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik
The ZK/U-Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik (Center for Art and Urbanistics) provides residencies of two to eight months “for artists, scholars, and practitioners (curators, activists, autodidacts, etc.) interested in cross-disciplinary theory and practice dealing with ‘the city’.” Recent participants include poet Stephen Motika and novelist Alan Cunningham. For individual fellows selected for the program, depending on the studio-apartment and the length of the stay, costs can be between 500 and 800 Euros per month. ZK/U will work with selected fellows in support of efforts to obtain funding to cover the cost through external grants. The deadline for applications for the Autumn-Winter 2014-2015 residency is July 27, 2014.
American poets who wish to spend time in Berlin, Germany (or other cities abroad), can also consider applying for the competitive Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship (http://www.amylowell.org/), which awards one scholarship of approximately $54,000 to an American poet who agrees to spend the entire year abroad. The deadline for applications for the scholarship is October 15, 2014.
Inspiration can be found everywhere. But sometimes, the opportunity to travel can bring you out of a rut and lead your writing in unexpected, and exciting, directions.
BIO: Bernadette Geyer is a freelance writer and editor living in Berlin, Germany. She is the author of the poetry collection The Scabbard of Her Throat, and recipient of a Strauss Fellowship from the Arts Council of Fairfax County. Her nonfiction has appeared in Go World Travel, Freelance Writer’s Report, and elsewhere, and her poems have been published in journals including Oxford American, Poet Lore, and on Verse Daily. Geyer also teaches creative writing workshops online through The Writer’s Center. You can find out more about her freelance editorial services and workshops through her web site at http://www.bernadettegeyer.com