Born in Stars We Live on Earth as Poets

When walking through the Museum Quarter (always an interesting experience), it is worth looking at the walls.  What caught my eye last night was this quote, ascribed to the British poet William Blake, on the very yellow wall of  the “meteorite passage way” (Meteoritenpassage), close to the Volkstheater entrance of the MQ.   It was a fitting end to an inspiring Vienna “writing walk” (Schreibspaziergang) with the charming wordsmithing Anna Guggenberger, a.k.a. Artentwanderess  and hostess of the Writing Wilderness workshops.

A poetic archway at the Museumsquartier. The quote is ascribed to William Blake.

I had no idea what a writing walk is and came, armed with a notebook and pen, full of curiosity.  It turned out to be a lot of fun, and not as hard as one might imagine.  I have always enjoyed writing, but never really took the time to explore creative writing, apart from some teenage dabblings that might as well remain archived in a drawer.  Anna had lovingly prepared little booklets with inputs and writing tasks for each stop on our two hour amble through downtown Vienna.  She calls her walks “Wiener Stadtgeflüster”, a Vienna Citywhisper.

Wiener Stadtgeflüster Booklet
Handmade booklets in different colours for the walk participants

Our first stop was Spittelberggasse, a place now gentrified and trendy that in times gone by had something of a bad reputation.  As we learned, it was once a place of seedy bars, where streetwalkers tried to eke out a living from selling themselves to men.  So, appropriately, our task here was to warm up with a stream of consciousness from the perspective of one of these unfortunate girls.


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From there we walked over to the Museum Quarter and sat on the steps of the MUMOK, looking at an advertisement for the Egon Schiele exhibition at the Leopoldmuseum.  Who knew that Schiele was not just a painter, but also dabbled in poetry?  Anna had found out in her research, and included a poem called “Nasser Abend” (wet evening) in her booklet.  From this we were to pick three words and write a new poem.  I wrote (my first) little Haiku, but won´t reproduce it here.

Next we sat at the human rights plaza at the corner of Mariahilferstraße and Babenbergerstraße, where we read a text by Gottfried Pirhofer from his book “Maria hilf!“.  Actually, I had not noticed that impressive table/work of art before.

Platz der Menschenrechte
Human rights are inscribed on the surface of this table.


Then on to sit on the steps of the magnificent Vienna Secession building and engage in a five minute Rapid Writing exercise on the Secession motto “To every age its art, to art its freedom.”  Boy, my hand hurt after that one — I  filled two and a half pages of my notebook with my associative rant!

Our fifth and last stop was the iconic Charles´Church (Karlskirche), which always provides such a beautiful backdrop  for Vienna photos.  Our final task was to reflect  and write a letter “to my city”.

A still summery view of Karlskirche – I love it!
Angel Karlskirche
While the angel stands guard, the end of golden hour approaches.

I will spare you the details of my somewhat soppy declaration of love to my Vienna.  (Having lived elsewhere for a long time, I think I appreciate even more what a great city it is – for me, at any rate.)

Secession with red sky
A fiery sky behind the Secession and TU buildings was the crowning glory on our way back to public transport.

Anna is leaving Vienna soon for new adventures abroad, and that is really too bad, because I would have loved to participate in more writing workshops with her.  The possibilities are endless!  Still, if you are tempted, she is offering a couple more such writing walks in September.   The walk is free, but Anna appreciates a voluntary donation.

And then, we just have to hope that she´ll be back one day!



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