Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download

uni'alumni 2016

If you saw a man with a bike converted into a miniature library last summer at Freiburg’s outdoor swimming pools, then you’ve seen Martin Bruch at work. Bruch brings literature to the people. He wants to get groups that did not grow up with books excited about reading. One way he goes about this is to engage the help of students dressed as literary pool at- tendants to surprise children and teen- agers who don’t have a chance to travel during summer vacation with a selection including everything from comics to poetry. Another is the series “zwischen/ miete” in shared student apartments, where student curators meet with young writers to discuss their texts. A City with Culture Bruch has been in charge of the Literaturbüro Freiburg (“Freiburg Litera- ture Bureau”) since January 2014. The bureau holds around 100 events per year for people interested in literature as well as for writers and translators. It’s plain to see Bruch’s enthusiasm when he talks about literature as an art form and a way to stimulate the imagi- nation. The program offers something for everyone. For the older generation, for instance, there’s the series “Heimat- kunde” (“Local History”) held at locations in the Freiburg region. Bruch also finds it important to bring the great wide world to Freiburg in the form of international authors. “We try to develop experimental formats and to test the limits of where a discussion of books can take us.” The 31-year-old’s biography reads like a list of German cities with cosmopolitan flair: Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich. Still, he does not regret coming to Freiburg. He finds his new home in the Breisgau “attractive and charming.” In addition, he says that the municipal government is unusually supportive of culture – and the situation stands to improve further in spring 2016: The Literature Bureau is moving from its current home at the old Wiehre train station and reopening under the new name “Literaturhaus” (“House of Literature”) in the Old University on Bertoldstraße, where it will share a theater with student theater groups. An institution of this kind is something of a literary breakthrough for the city and a unique opportunity for Bruch: “The devel- opment of houses of literature is still young. They don’t have a tradition we need to preserve and maintain. That means we have free rein to build up a house that is suited to Freiburg.” It was by no means foreseeable that Bruch would one day build up a house of literature. His goal was actually to become a copyeditor. He studied crea- tive writing and cultural studies in Hildesheim, Rome, and Berlin. He then worked as an assistant to the manager of a Frankfurt publisher. From there he moved on to the headquarters of the Goethe Institute in Munich. His own pro- jects also helped him grow into his role as a disseminator of culture: He published a literary magazine together with class- mates and organized a literature festival. When he saw the advertisement for the position in Freiburg, he had a feeling that it would unite a lot of the things he had been occupied with for years. What also impressed him about Freiburg was the feeling of cultural togetherness. “The various institutions don’t compete but rather cooperate very nicely with each other.” The literature bureau is also well connected, organizing every second event with partners. Bruch hopes the location of the new House of Literature will make it possible to forge further partnerships, for instance with the university. One partner he would find particularly appealing is the Uniseum, “a place with a diverse history and a lot of stories.” He envisions the House of Literature as a symbolic core from which it will be possible to reach a broad audience. “Literature is not exclu- sive. We want to provide means of access that don’t immediately scream ‘high cul- ture’ at you. The House of Literature is a space with unique potential for this aim.” Yvonne Troll 32 Martin Bruch wants to build up a house of literature that is perfectly suited to Freiburg. Photo: Sandra Meyndt A Literary Breakthrough PORTRAIT Martin Bruch wants to reach a broad audience with unusual events at the new House of Literature