"It is difficult to discover a self-made reading in Düsseldorf because most literature events are presented by a small network of official institutions that promote mostly well-known
authors. Our way of writing is open to experimental and anti-poetical methods, free from conservative rules and values. We like to surprise ourselves with our inspiration."
Tom de Toys, April 2022 @ Podcast: HOW SUBCULTURAL POETRY BECOMES OFFICIAL IN A LIBRARY
Now I would like to introduce our first guest, Tom de Toys, born is 1968. He is a poetry performance artist of the German underground literature scene. Tom de Toys lives in Düsseldorf since 2012 and he is a member of the arts association Düsseldorfer Künstler e.V. He organised in 2017 a poetry festival with some subcultural stars of the scene. Hello Mr. De Toys, thank you for coming! You are 54 years old. What did you do before you arrived in Düsseldorf?"
"Hi there! Thanks for inviting me. Well, I was living in Berlin for more than 14 years as an activist of the creative scene. In the beginning I was running a literature saloon in the Art-House 'Tacheles' where I organised readings and an exhibition. At that time I lived in the district of Prenzlauer Berg where most artists and poets were located. We talk about the late 1990's. By the government's move from Bonn to Berlin the creative scene moved to Friedrichshain and later to Neukölln because of the cheap rents. There I worked as a cultural manager for a gallery in my last years."
"I see, so you did experience the gentrification in Berlin. Did your way of life change here in comparison to your former life in Berlin?"
"Yes, my life changed radically because I stopped being hyperactive as an artist just to avoid more burnout symptoms. Instead of that I became a taxi-driver and a GCA, a geriatric care assistant. But in spite of that I organized that poetry festival in 2017 that you mentioned already where I presented some subcultural stars of the poetry scene."
"2017 is a few years ago. Do you have any actual projects?"
"Oh yes, I do! At this very moment I'm invited to create an artwork out of a vintage taxi call box that will be sold to help Ukrainian refugees. And next year I’m going to perform my poetry in the local library of Wersten."
"Oh, tell me more about it! Is it a solo reading?"
"No no no, the manager of the library David Cappel asked me to choose three more authors besides of myself. One comes from Duisburg that's Marvin Chlada who is a researcher of pop culture. The second is Boris Kerenski from Stuttgart who published the legendary anthology of German underground literature in the 1990´s titled 'Kaltland Beat' and the last one is Harald Kappel from Aachen who won the postpoetry prize three years ago."
"All right, can you tell me if there are any similarities in between the poetry scenes of Berlin and Düssseldorf?"
"Well, one very practical difference between the scenes are of course the sizes: In Berlin up to 200 literature performances happen each day while in Düsseldorf you can be lucky to find two in a month. The second most important difference is the way how the activists of the scenes are connected. In Berlin it is easy to find a location that presents you without being published by an established editor or having won a literature prize. By that, many unknown poets live in a permanent live-act-exchange of their works and ideas that provokes an intense atmosphere and creative lifestyle of subcultural processes. In opposite to that it is difficult to discover a self-made reading in Düsseldorf because most literature events are presented by a small network of official institutions that promote mostly well-known authors. By recognizing that difference I am very pleased that David Cappel enables an exception of this typical separation, because on the one hand the library represents indeed this official network but on the other hand we, the four authors and the musician of course also, are not clearly established or not and by that we are a kind of mixture of the avantgardistic and the advanced scene."
"So... what unites the authors then?"
"Somehow just one common level unites us: our way of writing. It is open to experimental and anti-poetical methods, free from conservative rules and values. We like to surprise ourselves with our inspiration. If you like you find further information about us on the website of the project: www.LyrikLEBT.de"
CHOSEN VIDEO-USED QUOTES TAKEN FROM THE PODCAST (THE COMPLETE QUOTES @ THE EQ WEBSITE BY TOM DE TOYS):
"I appreciate when poets are able to perform their poems also in a way that the audience doesn't fall asleep or doesn't understand anything. That's a big difference between many authors: the one can perform and the one write very good things but can't perform."
"We are very free spirits and we don't care if the lyrics we produce sound conservative or experimental. I love the intensity of the poems. I miss the intensity in many poems that get big prizes in Germany by established institutions."
"Here in Düsseldorf i tried to figure out where underground poets perform. I see just a reduced network of established institutions that organize literature events but that's all. And they present moreover mostly established authors. So where are the underground poets? That was always my problem here and that's why i organized myself that big festival in 2017 just to present once forever here in Düsseldorf real established stars of the german subcultural poetry scene."
"In Cologne i was bored because i thought nobody needs us. Nobody needs readings. Nobody needs poems and poets and live poets. Everybody just has his routine in life. In Berlin you have this hypnotizing feeling that something happens. Of course nothing happens at all. It's just we who do something and have our fun. There's as well as here no influence on society."