Literature: Schwinghammer: Castle Clerk in Difficult Conditions

Living and working in a castle once – a dream for many. Mae Schwinghammer was allowed to work as a clerk at Beeskow for five months. She recorded her impressions.

The evening was his most creative moment. Then it became quiet and deserted at Beeskow Castle and Mae Schwinghammer felt like the mistress of the medieval walls. “Then I felt like it was my castle,” she says. The titular scribe lived and worked there for five months – on Saturday May 21, the 29-year-old writer will bid farewell with a reading.

In fact, the poet is a “morning person”. But the construction work on the castle would have made writing more difficult, as the Viennese explains. Schwinghammer lived in a small, modern apartment in the former Governor’s House within the castle complex. An unplastered wall and an old wooden door recall the centuries. Walks have become a habit, also to escape the noise of the construction site at the castle, as she reports. Her dog Tivoli was often with her from February.

The function of clerk of the castle, which is reassigned every year, was associated with the obligation to publish printings in columns in addition to the inaugural and final readings. A monthly grant of 1,000 euros was granted to support the realization of his own literary projects. There has been a Burgschreiber since 1993 – the office is unique in Brandenburg.

According to Burg Beeskow, there are only a handful of Burgschreiber scholarships in Germany. For Laufenburg Castle on the German-Swiss border, for example, this office is announced beyond the borders. Waldeck Castle (Rhineland-Palatinate) awards a cultural grant for this purpose.

When the clerk of Schwinghammer Castle returned to her home in the evening after a walk in and around the town of Beeskow, she sometimes sat in the “purple drawing room” – for the ambience of the castle. There and elsewhere, she processed her impressions in theatrical scenes, plays and poetry. “This way of translating situations into text very quickly – practically from zero to a hundred – made us happy”, reports the castle’s press officer, Stéphanie Lubasch. Mae has a great talent for “unblocking” people.

The writer out Austria defines herself as non-binary – she doesn’t feel gendered. Not necessarily a political statement, as Schwinghammer puts it. She feels it and feels it that way. “Mae has a really good way of approaching people and also approaches her own subjects with wit, which makes dealing with them so incredibly easy,” Lubasch has observed at events.

The mayor of Beeskow changed Mae’s reception. His son had taught the mayor this before, as reported by Frank Steffen. “I discussed gender at length with my 23-year-old son.” According to the SPD politician, he convinced him that it was also about appreciation.

The 29-year-old says the residents of Beeskow (Oder-Spree) and surrounding areas were mostly open to her. Schwinghammer spent a lot of time at a school in Beeskow and at the town’s children’s and youth theatre, which rehearses regularly at the castle. She played Goldmarie at “Hollefest” and wrote the scene for a children’s play to be performed in June. In the advanced German course at school, she gave a lecture on poetry.

In general, the young writer tells a lot about her encounters with children and young people. “At first, I was a little nervous because my school days were characterized by bullying.” But the children would have welcomed her heartily. Schwinghammer supervised a theater workshop which dealt with the theme of “identity”. The girls also acted as trans people in the scenes. “It was pretty cool and well done, the kids asked a lot and were totally open,” Schwinghammer enthused. She received up to 60 letters from children – a nice surprise for the writer.

Born in Austria in 1993, Mae Schwinghammer studied language arts in Vienna. She has already published texts in magazines and anthologies, written plays and radio plays. A first volume of poetry was published this year, and the presentation took place at the castle in April. “Writing has always been a means of expression for me. As a child, I spoke badly for a long time and sometimes I was not understood,” says the 29-year-old young woman. She knew how to make herself understood by writing.

Riding the paddle boat, sitting at the bar in the allotment garden, walking the dog Tivoli and talking to each other, visiting the local health food store – when she leaves, the saleswoman feels integrated into the city. According to Schwinghammer, the diggers in the yard thwarted their goal of writing their novel because of the noise and too much commotion. Instead, a play was created. She would like to come back to Beeskow, said the Viennese. “It’s always what creative people want most, to be remembered.”

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