I am so young and the world is so old

Bildmotiv "Ich bin so jung und die Welt ist so alt" (Ausschnitt)

Writers’ project by the Federal Cultural Foundation in cooperation with the German PEN Center on the occasion of the Büchner Commemorative Year 2013

“...I am so young and the world is so old.” It was 1836 and Georg Büchner was 23 when he wrote this line in his political comedy “Leonce and Lena”. In a period of only three years until his death at 24, Büchner had produced a convolute of works ranging from political treatises to historic revolutionary dramas to novellas. Moved by oppression and the hope of inspiration Today his writings continue to be a source of inspiration, especially for the younger generation. Two of his major themes - oppression and the hope for liberation – have contributed to the lasting reputation of this pioneer of modern literature.

But what of the hopes and wishes of young people today in a radically changing world? What stories do they want to tell?

The writers’ project “I am so young and the world is so old” asked school children between the ages of 12 and 15 to describe their expectations, fears and dreams in a jointly written text. The pupils had been accompanied and supported by the well-known writers Liane Dirks, Tanja Dückers, John von Düffel, Annegret Held, Fridolin Schley, Imre Török, Jens Wonneberger and Feridun Zaimoglu. At the end of the project, children at eight schools in Germany produced small literary works which demonstrate their poetic voice and narrative power.

The production of the texts was integrated into classroom instruction, and each writer worked exclusively with one class. In the beginning, the pupils and writers throwed ideas back and forth, studied the form and structure of literary works, and discussed possible beginnings which they would write together. The pupils continued writing other parts of the text by themselves.

The goal of the project was to offer children and young people the opportunity to experience the joy of collaborative creative writing and thus provide them with an alternative method of approaching literary texts.

The pupils’ texts and excerpts from the authors’ journals, illustrating the writing process, are compiled and published in book form in autumn 2014. A project by the Federal Cultural Foundation in cooperation with the German PEN Center together with eight German secondary schools.

Project director: Franziska Sperr
Funding period: autumn 2013 to autumn 2014



Antonia Lahmé
Kulturstiftung des Bundes

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Kulturstiftung des Bundes