Slot machines and high culture
The waitress at “Skotti’s” is bringing a glass of cherry-and-banana juice. The bar in Düsseldorf-Oberbilk serves it around the clock since the Skotti’s never closes. It is located at the intersection of Kölner Straße and Markenstraße in the rear part of the neighbourhood, facing away from the railway station. The place couldn’t get any livelier. Large windowpanes keep out the heavy traffic buzzing along Kölner Straße. A vegetable vendor has set up across from the bar. A gigantic billboard is mounted above the displays on the building wall, playing commercials and news incessantly. Inside, men are playing games of chess or backgammon – or simply enjoying a cup of coffee. Since May 2022, Vorneweg has regularly brought literary life to “Skotti’s”. She invites authors of concrete and visual poetry to this place of night-time meetings for her “Kunstkiosk” series. High culture happening in the direct vicinity of the jingling slot machines appears to be an impossible idea at first glance. It is, however, one of many things that Vorneweg has managed to make happen. Gerhard Rühm has accepted her invitation. Safiye Can did so, too. Three reading evenings are planned for 2023 again. Her events have made Vorneweg a part of the dedicated local community. Guests and staff at “Skotti’s” are approaching her, giving her warm hugs, coming to sit at our table to talk to Vorneweg, even though some of them don’t even share a language with her. “Who might that have been?” she wonders once a visitor has moved on. “Oh, right. It’s the gentleman who cleans around here.”
Word after word
While she is telling me all of this, exuding enthusiasm from every pore of her body, a heavy rain shower is coming down outside of “Skotti’s”. We have been talking for four hours already. That’s not unusual for Vorneweg. She always has plenty to tell. There’s plenty happening at all times, after all. Sometimes you have to wonder how she can fit everything she’s doing, thinking, planning, and putting into practice into the 24 hours a day . Vorneweg prefers night-time for her literary work anyway. Once everything around her has quieted down and her two children are asleep, she will sit in the attic she has converted into her study, putting down word after word. She produces concepts, funding applications, literary texts, and emails. Many electronic text messages recently went back and forth between Düsseldorf-Eller, where Vorneweg lives, and Israel. She had visited the place already last spring in the scope of a working visit and is going to return in the autumn of 2022 to implement a project supported by the Goethe-Institut. “I am going to team up with an Israeli writer to inscribe the stage of the Yama Street Gallery in Nahariya. I am going to start in German at the upper left, while he will start in Hebrew at the lower right.” Once her work in Nahariya is complete Vorneweg is going to travel on to the Negev Desert, where she is planning to improve a stone with words not far from the Egyptian border. She wrote the text for this during her stay in Israel last spring.
Of course, these are far from all the plans the poet of the street has in mind. She also wants to talk about another one: Her idea of the monument. “After that, I really do need to eat something.” We’re keeping it brief. She wants to “write over” a monument. Jan Wellem is one that she has in mind for this. She wants to lay down the biography of a woman who was close to him on his image. It’s about the female perspective once again. She has not actually gotten to plan this project out in greater detail yet, but that might happen in one of the next few nights. Right now, she needs to go visit the Lebanese next door. “I do need some falafel now.”