Background: The Heidelberg Writers Group

The Heidelberg Review, Issue 3

The exact time of the Heidelberg Writers Group’s beginnings is lost to the current collective membership’s memory, but was likely in late 1993 or early 1994. Inspiration for founding the group and recruiting many of the first members is attributed to Vivian Vargas, who lived in the region many years. Vargas owned a new-and-used English bookstore called Between the Lines at the Plöck 93 – now the site of English Books – where the earliest public readings and poetry slams were held. The longest-standing current members joined in 1994, and the group can be said to have been in its heyday at that time. Interested parties were being turned away or placed on waiting lists. Evening Meetings were held weekly, initially in a small art shop in the Plöck called Museo run by charter member Raymond Hansen and his wife. Meetings soon moved to the bookstore, where they continued until 1996. Both Vargas and the Hansens left Heidelberg for California shortly thereafter.

The group was an oasis for ex-pat native English speakers who wrote or wanted to write literary prose and poetry. There is something indefatigably inspiring about coming to a foreign place in order to get in touch with one’s roots. Various public events were held. A print journal was started under the editorship first of Hansen and then of longtime member Bill Furley along with fellow veteran member Russ Hodge. (Cover art shown here was from Furley’s first issue and taken from an original painting by then-member Helen Cronin.) Since the mid-1990s, twice-yearly readings at the Heidelberg Volkshochschule have continued under the auspice of Eva-Maria Meyer-Dammann, director of the languages and literature curriculum. The local community is thus given access to a uniquely local English literary and poetry perspective that often also reflects something of Heidelberg and surroundings back on itself.

During the late 1990s the group continued to meet weekly at various members’ homes – notably at Cronin’s and Dallman Ross’s Weststadt apartments. Core members left the area one-by-one, and those who remained met only haphazardly. From late 1999 through mid-2001 the group held semi-regular meetings in Wiesbaden, to which Ross had moved. There followed a hiatus of several years. Meetings again began in Heidelberg. The usual meeting place in this epoch of the group’s existence is in the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut (DAI, a.k.a. Amerika-Haus), Sofienstraße 12, with thanks due to Director Jakob Köllhofer for making the space available.

Come join us! We represent English-speaking writers and poets with connections to the Rhein-Neckar region and nearby surrounds. Write to us by email at


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