Press Release: Coventry Poet Laureate Visits Twin City of Dresden


Emilie performing at the Story Slam


In September, Emilie Lauren Jones (Coventry Poet Laureate) took part in a poetry exchange visit to the city of Dresden in Germany.

Dresden and Coventry were twinned in 1956, after both cities experienced the devastating effect of heavy bombing during World War II. Dresden currently has a population of 556,227 and is the capital city of the German state of Saxony. It lies on the broad basin of the River Elbe, near the border with Czechia. It is a place of rich and fascinating history, including a king with an incredible passion for porcelain, the creation of milk chocolate, and a long association with the arts.

Among other activities, Emilie’s visit involved running a workshop session with a local writer’s group, visiting a local school, and performances and talks at a number of venues, including an international friendship group and the German-British Society. She was able to meet other artists and key individuals as well as attending the annual multicultural Gastmahl Festival and headlining Dresden’s bi-monthly Story Slam.


Some of the 240 tables that made up the annual Gastmahl


During her visit to local school Hans-Erlwein-Gymnasium, the Year 12 students presented Emilie with a five-foot copy of a poem they had written in response to Emilie’s poetic film ‘On These Streets We Shine’ (Sky Arts 2022). She reports “these incredibly talented students also wrote and performed poems celebrating their individuality”.

When she wasn’t attending events, Emilie was treated to various tours to learn about the history and culture of this wonderful city.

A Cross of Nails from Coventry sits on the altar of the Frauenkirche



The purpose of the trip was to continue to cement the friendship between Dresden and Coventry, and to create new and meaningful connections between organisations and individuals across the two cities.

On Thursday 10th November, Fire&Dust (our popular open mic night for spoken word from Coventry and beyond) will hold a special virtual event to celebrate Dresden poets. There are open mic slots that can be signed up for in advance (includes open mic slots for anyone to sign up to); for more information about this event or to book, please email host Ann Atkins: annatkins.poetATgmailDOTcom.

In October, Emilie will be taking part in an exchange of letters with Dresden’s ‘City Writer’ Katharina Bendixen, which will be published online later this year. Emilie will also be writing plenty of poems about her experiences of Dresden!

Emilie would like to thank CAIF (Coventry Association for International Friendship), Dresden City Council, Coventry’s Lord Mayor and the many organisations and individuals in Dresden and Coventry who supported this visit and continue to support the ongoing activities associated with the poetry exchange.

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