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Rachel Clarke @ Poetic Groove
Rachel Clarke @ Poetic Groove

A Multi-Lingual City: Poetry In Berlin

Picture of Sophie Fenella
Updated: 19 October 2016
Walking through the streets of Berlin, many languages can be heard. It’s very likely to meet someone from Spain, France, England, Israel, Poland or America in this buzzing German city. This diversity makes Berlin one of the most attractive destinations for young DJs, musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, and writers. The rich multi-culturalism of the city is reflected in the many poetry nights that welcome live performances in all languages.

The beauty of multilingual poetry events is that it allows you to appreciate the rhythmic quality of poetry. There is something to be said for sitting back and enjoying the performer’s presence and quality of their voice, even if you don’t speak or understand the language. A significant amount of poetry events in Berlin are made up of English and German speakers, and most of the poems are normally in English. So, if your German isn’t up to scratch you can still find somewhere to listen, or share, poetry in English and other languages. Here is a list of our favorite events.

Poetry Meets Hip Hop

A hugely popular event that brings hip hop and spoken word artists from Berlin and all over the world to the stage. The night welcomes all artists who identify with the genre of hip hop, and constructs a creative space for all those who love and appreciate the crossover between poetry and hip hop, to gather and listen to words and beats. The next event is on the 24th of June at Ballhaus Naunynstraß, don’t miss it.

Ballhaus Naunynstraß, Naunynstraße 27, Berlin, Germany+49 30 75453725

Berlin Spoken Word

If you go down to the basement of Du Beast, a bar in the heart of Neukölln, on a Thursday night you will find a crowd of people from all walks of life, watching as one by one a writer, or muscian, shares their work. There are rarely feature poets. It’s all about the open mic and this has a core group of dedicated followers. From students to professionals, Berlin Spoken Word is an open space for everyone to share their stories, in all languages and mediums. This is what open mic spoken word nights should be about: a supportive community environment to hear and speak words. It happens every Thursday.

Du Beast, Innstraße 4, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 12026789

©Berlin Spoken Word

©Berlin Spoken Word

The Reader Berlin

Much more than a host of literary events, The Reader Berlin is an organisation that supports the development of English literature in Berlin. They offer workshops, editing services, tutorials and a literary festival, along with their annual short story competition. Their events are an opportunity to hear respected writers share their work, and it is all in English. Sign up to their newsletter to keep up to date, and check their website for workshop locations.

The Poetic Groove

If you are looking for a little bit of music to go with your poetry, head down to The Poetic Groove, a monthly event that hosts poets and musicians from all over the world. This international event is for people who love words, meeting new people, and music. There is also an open stage at the end where you can win a chance to be featured at the next event: a great opportunity for writers looking to get some experience performing. It takes place at Ofen Bar, a cosy little bar near Schönleinstraße; the perfect spot for a chilled evening. The next one is on the 13th of May at Ofen bar, definitely one for the diary.

Ofen Bar, Hobrechtstraße 35, Berlin, Germany+49 30 78086434

The Poetic Groove © Javier Blanco

The Poetic Groove © Javier Blanco

Whiskey and Words

Another open mic, this time in the back of Keith, a whiskey bar near Boddinstr. Almost every night is packed with budding writers, or people who are simply looking for somewhere to sit back, relax and listen to some stories with a glass of whiskey. Poems and stories are welcome in all languages, making this a truly multi-lingual event. Make sure you arrive early if you want a comfy place to sit, as there aren’t chairs, so you might want to grab a pillow. Find them on Facebook to discover the next event.

Keith Bar, Schillerpromenade 2, Berlin, Germany

Isn’t Everything Poetry?

In the English bookstore, Curious Fox, on the first Tuesday of every month a night called, ‘Isn’t Everything Poetry?’ takes place. The event is hosted by Emeke Ene and features guest poets, authors, and spoken-word performers. In April, they hosted poet Nisha Bhakoo who has been published in many respected English publications such as Poems in Which and The Emma Press. Following the guests, the stage is open to anyone who may wish to occupy it and share their work.

Curious Fox, Flughafenstraße 22, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 52664791


Berlin’s English language literary journal hosts regular events coinciding with the launch of their current issue, or sometimes a one off event. The journal collaborates with musicians, festivals, and artist cooperatives to host literary events that offer something a little different. The bi-annual journal publishes poetry and prose as well as photography, art, and translations.

If you are learning German, or are a native speaker, then there are many excellent German language slam poetry events in Berlin that attract hundreds of people, and host some of the best German slam poets. Check out one of these for starters: Bubble Slam, Insel Slam, Der Beste Poetry Slam Der Welt.