I occasionally write at school, in the teacher break room during free hours and sometimes also in class, while the students are completing an assignment of their own, before the lesson starts or during the five minute break between double lessons – that is, whenever I have some downtime.
Today, I was scribbling away on my current work in progress before my 8th grade English class was due to start. One of the students was early and since he’s notoriously curious, he asked me what I was writing. “Just a story I’m working on”, I told him, because the kid in question one of my aspiring writer students. He asked me what kind of story it was. “A science fiction story”, I said. Then he asked me about the characters. “In this scene there is a man called Ethan and his girlfriend Heather through whose eyes we see the whole thing. They are the main characters of this story. There’s also a spaceship captain in this scene who doesn’t have a name yet.”
“Why don’t you name the captain after me?”, the boy asked. “But he’s a bad guy”, I said, “A really nasty bad guy, too.” In fact, he was about two sentences from beating the shit out of the defenseless protagonist. “Sure you don’t want a bad guy named after you?”
“Even if he’s bad, I don’t mind”, the student said.
I said, “Wait a minute. There’s another spaceship captain in this story [the galactic empire has many spaceships and many captains] who also doesn’t have a name yet. He’s actually a good guy and his part is much bigger than this other guy’s. So what do you say if I name that spaceship captain after you?” So I’ve officially tuckerized a student now.
Tonight, I attended the launch reading of newleaf 28. newleaf is the English language literature magazine of the University of Bremen. I’ve been on the editorial staff (my official title is sales manager) since forever, though I don’t really do a lot these days.
We were at a new venue this time, namely the distinctly steampunky surroundings of the Kulturzentrum Schlachthof, the power station of a defunct Victorian slaughterhouse turned cultural centre in the 1970s. They have a Wikipedia entry, too. If you’re a fan of German punk rock, Die Toten Hosen, one of Germany’s two foremost punk bands, gave their stage debut at the Schlachthof a little more than thirty years ago.
I’ve been at the Schlachthof a couple of time, mostly at the restaurant or at the Kesselhalle, the main stage in the basement. The newleaf reading, however, took place in the theater workshop at the very top of the building. Getting up the stairs was its own form of exercise. It was a nice event with the usual mix of poetry, prose, music and stand-up comedy. Plus, it was good seeing my old university pals again.
My official write-up will appear at the newleaf website in the next few days. I’ll also upload photos of the event to the newleaf Flickr stream.
But for now, have some photos of the venue high above the roofs of Bremen behind the cut: