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Middle Ground: PREE. Caribbean Writing

Interactions, Transactions, Reciprocities

Readings, Discussions, Workshops, Keynote lectures, Performances, Concerts, Party


Visual Middle Ground

Design: Archive Ensemble

Middle Ground is a yearly series that invites literature festivals from around the world to HKW to explore literary and oraliture practices and networks. The project takes its name from Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s contemplation of the ‘middle ground’ as a position that is ‘aware of a future to head into and a past to fall back on; it is the home of doubt and indecision, of suspension of disbelief, of make-believe, of playfulness, of the unpredictable, of irony.’ 

By simultaneously building on and departing from standard festival models, Middle Ground celebrates the poetics of multitude which underpin various epistemologies of production by expanding geographies of knowledge production and knowledge flow. In Poetics of Relation, Édouard Glissant points out that ‘the cultures of the world have always maintained relations among themselves that were close or active to varying degrees, but it is only in modern times that some of the right conditions came together to speed up the nature of these connections’. Glissant’s and Achebe’s words provide an important framework to navigate the ethical considerations surrounding North-South collaborations. Drawing from an in-depth understanding of the historical and socio-cultural context within which these collaborations have existed, Middle Ground cultivates collaborative paradigms of interaction which are of mutual benefit.

As part of a larger framework that thinks beyond the physical space that HKW occupies and the possibilities of a borderless world, the hybrid forms of existing festivals that Middle Ground hosts explore the dynamics of interaction, transaction, and reciprocity that define literary festivals. Thereby the kaleidoscopic nature of literary practices across geographies, cultures, and languages is brought into focus. Guest festivals are invited to Berlin to engage with writers based in Germany as well as transnational and diasporic communities in the city through keynotes, seminars, readings, and performances. 

The 2023 guest festival for Middle Ground: Interactions, Transactions, Reciprocities is PREE: Caribbean Writing, a literary festival and online platform based in Jamaica. Founded in 2018 and curated by Jamaican writer and editor Annie Paul, PREE explores Caribbean writing by engaging with and mapping the literary landscapes and praxis of different countries. ‘The Caribbean has always existed at a crossroad of one kind or another’, Paul wrote in the inaugural issue of PREE literary magazine. PREE’s undertakings to amplify Caribbean writing and shape discourse by engaging with and publishing contemporary writing from the Caribbean by both established and new voices, makes them a crucial partner with whom to explore and extend geographies of knowing. Writers and thinkers published by PREE explore art and politics, race and gender, technology and power, and more. Within the framework of Middle Ground, authors selected by PREE take part in performances, readings, lectures, panels, and facilitate seminars for writers.

We invite you to join us, reflect upon, reimagine, and contemplate Caribbean literatures during Middle Ground: PREE. Caribbean Writing through the following interventions, among others. Annie Paul offers an entry point to the Caribbean through her keynote speech which examines the politics and poetics of writing and publishing Caribbean literature, followed by a conversation with Marlon James. The question of languages is crucial when exploring Caribbean literatures; in the panel The Only Way to Find Your Voice is to Use It, Ingrid Persaud and Lafleur Cockburn explore how multiplicities of languages, creoles, and vernaculars subvert language hierarchies and create unapologetic voices. Vladimir Lucien and Rhea Ramjohn meanwhile use poetry to explore the correlation between the rhythm of lived experiences and memory in The Rhythm of Remembrance. The relationship between history, power, politics, and historical legacies is examined by Jennifer Richard and Cristina Bendek in Reimagining Temporalities while Kei Miller and Ada M. Patterson consider the possibilities that arise when we let the body dictate its own rhythm and politics. Sharmaine Lovegrove in conversation with Annie Paul discuss models of inclusivity in publishing and navigating constantly evolving languages, creoles and oraliteratures, and Isis Semaj-Hall curates and guides an open mic night exploring the importance of orality and migration in shaping identities, where dub music is understood as orality and the literary soundtrack of the evening.

The programme is in English; German Sign Language is offered when indicated

Information on Middle Ground in German Sign Language (DGS):


Video: Handgold Service in Gebärdensprache / Mandy Wyrostek