The Book Club

Philip Oltermann: The Stasi Poetry Circle

39 min listen

In This Episode

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Philip Oltermann, whose new book The Stasi Poetry Circle: The Creative Writing Class that Tried to Win the Cold War, unearths one of the most unexpected corners of East German history. At the height of the Cold War, members of the GDR’s notorious secret police got together regularly to workshop their poems. Was this a surveillance exercise, a training module for propagandists – or something stranger than either? And were their poems any good? Philip tells me about why poetry was such a big deal in the Eastern Bloc, how – had Petrarch but known – the sonnet was the perfect model for dialectical materialism, and where those poets are now…


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