The 2017 Berlin Writing Prize

With a theme like “Home is Elsewhere”, it is no wonder that we wanted to get involved in the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize, presented by our good friends The Reader Berlin, The Circus Hotel and SAND Journal. The prize is a month-long writer’s residency in our home city, where “the winning writer will have undisturbed time to observe, explore and write in one of the world’s most inspiring cities.”

The closing date for submissions is 31 July 2017, the competition is open to published and unpublished writers resident anywhere in the world, and the judges include, award-winning author Irenosen Okojie, author and creative director Michael Salu, SAND editor Florian Duijsens, Katrin Schönig from The Circus Hotel and our very own editor in chief Paul Scraton. The competition is for prose writing (fiction and non-fiction) and there is a maximum word length of 3000 words.

For all the various bits and pieces you need to know about submitting your entry to the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize, please head on over to the competition page on The Reader’s website. There you will find the submissions guidelines, details of the prizes and biographies of the judges.

We’re really excited to read what comes in and to celebrate fresh, original writing and emerging writing talent.

Postcard from... the Rakotzbrücke

IMAGE: Katrin Schönig

IMAGE: Katrin Schönig

By Paul Scraton:

The basalt columns reach out from the sandy soil to create perfect hiding places for the mystical creatures of the forest as they move down to the water’s edge. The stones tumble into the gloomy lake, as if to provide a landing stage for the creatures lurking in the depths. And the bridge curls in an arch from one bank to the other, its reflection in the lake creating a perfect circle. 

This is, surely, the devil’s work.

In this corner of Germany, close to the Polish border, the Rakotzbrücke has also been long known as the ‘Devil’s Bridge’, but in reality the structure, along with the basalt columns and the other rock formations that stand at the water are the work of very human hands. The bridge is at the heart of the Azalea and Rhododendron Park in Kromlau, Gablenz; a landscaped garden created in the 19th century by the local landowner along ‘English’ lines. With the end of the Second World War the park became property of the local community, and since 1948 it has been protected as a nature reserve.

But despite the fact that you know this structure was created by mortal hands, and despite the queue of photographers at the head of the lake, looking for the perfect angle to capture the perfect circle, it still has a strange impact when you approach it through the woods. It could be the stage set for some fantastical film or HBO series. It could be the nocturnal playground for all manner of beings. And it is not hard to imagine it as a playground for those mystical creatures of the forest, even if they themselves have no idea how it got there.