Background: The Heidelberg
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
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
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 email@example.com.