Posted February 14, 2024

Notes from the Portal: Berlin’s kari edwards Workshop & Gathering

This past month me and Berlin-based poet and educator emet ezell gathered writers at Berlin’s Hopscotch Reading Room to write alongside the work of experimental poet and trans-rights activist kari edwards. We met on the 2nd of December, both the birth- and death-day of edwards. Poetry is always spellwork of course, but some days the veil is particularly thin, such as when your poetry ancestor brings you around the table, collapsing past, present and future into the space of a page.

Image Source: a.Monti, “Hopscotch Reading Room Berlin,” 2023.


I initially encountered kari edwards through my work with Litmus Press, publisher of three of kari’s books and home to the catalog of O Books founded by Leslie Scalapino in 1986. O Books published iduna in 2003, one of my most beloved books, which Scalapino called “a perfect disorder as simultaneity of changes all present visible at once not either static or resolved, yet somehow held, as disorder.”

Somehow holding sie does! iduna is a book I now carry with me CARRY in spirit everywhere, but also literally to Berlin, where I lent it to emet, who subsequently used it in one of their fantastic poetry classes and then proposed to hold this workshop. Thus poetry spreads like a gorgeous weed, “not either static or resolved.”


Image Source: Philly Sounds, “kari edwards reading from obedience, ” 2005.


“I cannot talk to you so I live through you,” says kari edwards in an audio recording that we play to close the workshop. As queer poets, we know the power of tethering ourselves to queer elders, says emet. Queer lineage happens right here, in poetry; it can mean taking care beyond our own lifetime, reading as an act of gathering, writing as a place to practice possibility – this is a site we must protect. 

In our workshop we led through a series of writing prompts (see more on that below) and situated kari’s liberatory writing in solidarity with Palestine; kari was relentless in hir work to make this a more liveable world for all and this included a constant critique of the nation-state. This force was sustained by hir writing experiments. We brought those experiments into the workshop to house our own attempts at a language beyond capture, invoking kari edward’s anti-imperialism as a north star amidst Germany’s relentless censorship and silencing in the face of an unfolding genocide.

In the moment of writing this blogpost, pro-Palestinian speech is effectively banned in German universities as is the wearing of keffiyehs across Berlin’s schools. State funded artists are forced to comply* with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism, which proposes a devastating and brutish conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-semitism — only a few expressions of recent McCarthyist policies sweeping the country in a misguided attempt to address Germany’s catastrophic historic legacy. 


Image Source: emet ezell, “Hopscotch Reading Room Berlin,” 2023.


According to Hannah Arendt, politics is a space in which we figure out how to live together in this world, a space of discussion and thinking and the creation of new possibilities. And so we continue to gather, to attempt, to hold somehow. 

“Writing a queer writing a queer text is fluid, outside inside, inside a body space with no boundaries, a realization that there is no singularity without borders, dogma and a belligerent linearity. […] boundaries are not queer, sovereign boundaries are colonial, location of the self within the state.  Queer location is a discontinuity within the panoramic whole, taking into account the unaccountable, accounting self in space, attempting language.” 

kari edwards in “Subject: Statement” in EAOGH: Issue Three, Queering Language.


In the workshop we read excerpts from iduna, Bharat Jiva, No Gender: Reflections on the Life & Work of kari edwards, played recordings from the archive.  We took lines from iduna and made them the titles of our poems, flipped our pages and made a palimpsest of our writing. We also adapted prompts from the kari edwards Teaching Guide, which I had the pleasure of working on with Julian Talamantez Brolaski, erica kaufman and Miriam Atkin.


Finally, I am very excited to share a small selection of pieces that emerged from the workshop. Thank you to the wonderful participants for attempting language, as kari says.

— a.Monti
Berlin, February 18, 2024


*ADDENDUM: The Berliner Senat has since announced its withdrawal of the IHRA’s “Anti-Discrimination” clause. Read more context via Arts and Culture Alliance Berlin.



Between the Microscope and The Telescope by Jasmine Reimer


The moment the wild blue backs away from a bread-hand,

The almost touch, almost trust,

And retreat.


But just before the chip you introduced,

Your fire eyes by the fire.

The bottom of a paper cup cut out for viewing,

That moment, long ago tomorrow. 


At first they wouldn’t let me life life,

Then they wouldn’t let me.


My law statement, it’s like a bird.

Don’t. Don’t let them. There’s a bird on it, don’t let them lift it.


I know I love you but I don’t… who are you and the ocean – it’s too big.

It wasn’t the kind of childbirth I wanted to have with you. 

It was different.


The moment just before a bird flies,

Vibrating new gift – she’s leaving.

And an invisible breath drawn through almond lungs,

In the cherry of cheeks,

In the feet frozen moment, long ago tomorrow.

Empty sunflower seeds scattering 

scattering from a bleach bottle feeder, long ago tomorrow. 


My pinchers were tied with yellow tape,

And it’s been a long twenty-four hours.


The tube is on, I’ll have a little lick. Cupboard door to the wind. Repair is dripping down the windowpane.


And you never know know.

No, mom – are you cold?



tri— by emet ezell 

named after kari edwards’ poem “tri” in iduna







mandarin oranges or

better yet

jaffa oranges

which pulp and pound wild freedom juicy 

juice lips love palestine

free tried and trying 

tripartite partisan partridge 

the bird


by shrapnel sharpies

silhouettes suitcase

by brittany spears             oh god

how did we get here how

do we get to


the i of icecream melting tv melting the country melting the advertisements


like an orange

mandarin oranges

feminine oranges

transcendent oranges of 

the sublime end of empire 

do not whittle your breath our breath our breasts need revolution tri new sized alphabet explosions in the matrix of the war machine triangled trinity 

i am the night i am the shehe snake

buoyed by the opposite of bombs

refuse  revelation 

rejoice reward respond

re-cognate the orange tri !



Poem by Lotti Seebeck


did you know that ultra violet light

makes chlorophyll and blood reflect

in each others’ colors

(butterflies can see this for example)

blood has always known why 

to keep flowing it turns

blankets into calendars

in a dream vision the sheets would be soaked with green pigments and drying in a sunny classroom

chlorophyll has made it through 

millions of sun eclipses 



Sticky with your name by a.Monti




take a deep breath —

oily it paved

the road with good intentions

stick with your name

here take

a deep breath




Poem by Anna Spirochova