A New Divan

200 Years of Goethe's West-Eastern Divan

© Artwork: Bahia Shehab


“To everything there is a season!” Goethe wrote 200 years ago in his “Notes for a Better Understanding of the West-Eastern Divan". Today we face another era in which the "West" feels threatened by the "East", by Islam, by the “Other,” by the unknown. To everything there is a season —and the season now seems right to attempt a divan for our times: A New Divan. The Barenboim-Said Akademie has invited leading poets, artists, and musicians from “East” and “West” to come together for a festival celebrating 200 years of Goethe’s West-Eastern Divan.

The program, curated by Prof. Dr. Mena Mark Hanna, Dean of the Barenboim-Said Akademie and co-produced by the Stiftung – Gingko Library, is the culmination of a four-year collaboration between the Barenboim-Said Akademie and the publishers of A New Divan. A series of poetry readings, keynote lectures, and panel discussions will explore and elaborate Goethe’s themes. 

A New Divan is a multi-lingual anthology of poetry, celebrating what we have in common at a time when people seek to divide us. It was conceived to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of the original Divan. “This reimagining of Goethe’s seminal work gives us the opportunity to re-engage with his thoughts—a much-needed exercise, given the state of the world today”, writes Daniel Barenboim in his foreword.

The festival program is complemented by an exhibition and the screening of a documentary film featuring the artist and activist Bahia Shehab. Admission to all events except the concert is free but tickets are required. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

A New Divan: A lyrical Dialogue between East & West

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The appropriated female voice: Women, Art & Revolution

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New Divan Echoes: A Celebration of 200 Years of Goethe's "West-Eastern Divan"

More about the "West-Eastern Divan"

Gingko & Suhrkamp

Gingko commissioned the 24 original poems as well as 22 English-language poetic translations. At this point in the development of the project, Gingko was joined by Suhrkamp Verlag, who undertook to produce a German edition of the book, commissioning 21 poets to create German-language versions of the originals. Both publishers did not want to approach only those who knew the languages concerned but also to encourage a wide range of poets to engage with the project, and while some of them do translate directly into English or German, the majority have bravely undertaken this adventure with the help of expert translators who generously agreed to provide annotated literal, or perhaps more accurately, bridge translations.