An improbable but all too true story only recently exposed
Strange to say, but there was indeed a Stasi Poetry Circle, created by the East German authorities in their effort to win the culture wars with the West. Consisting of spies and soldiers, the Working Group of Writing Chekists met monthly in the 1980s, beneath portraits of Marx and Lenin, to work on their secret literary weapons. Philip Oltermann, the Berlin correspondent of the Guardian, will be in conversation about his fascinating book with Dorian Lynskey, author of The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of Orwell’s 1984.
Philip Oltermann was born in Schleswig-Holstein in 1981. He studied English and German literature in Oxford and London before beginning a career in journalism, for both German and English-language media. His articles have appeared in Granta, the London Review of Books, Prospect, The Nation and Süddeutsche Zeitung, among others. He is the founder of the English Writers Football Team, where his running style was once described as “looking entirely italicised”. Philip co-edited How I Write: The Secret Lives of Authors. Keeping Up With the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters was published by Faber & Faber in 2013. Since 2016, he has been the Guardian’s bureau chief in Berlin, where he lives with his wife and son. The Stasi Poetry Circle was published by Faber & Faber in 2020.
Dorian Lynskey has been writing about music, politics, film and books for over 20 years for publications including The Guardian, The Observer, GQ, The New Statesman, The Spectator, Q, Billboard, Empire, Mojo, Pitchfork, Select, Blender, Mixmag, Spin and The Big Issue. He is the author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs (2011) and The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 (2019). He hosts the Remainiacs podcast.