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The Only Question: Heidelberg - Nottingham – Ingeborg von Zadow and Leanne Moden

The Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature Program Directorate continues publishing The Only Question - new international project - materials. 40 authors from 18 UNESCO literary cities (or related cities) participate in the project. New guests of the project are the authors from Heidelberg - Nottingham – Ingeborg von Zadow and Leanne Moden 

The organizers invited writers, poets, playwrights, translators from UNESCO literary cities to imagine they have the opportunity to ask just one question to an author from any other literary city. The initiative will help to introduce the authors from the literary cities to each other and establish their dialogue. The project will also let to understand what issues are of concern to authors from different countries today. Besides, it will provide an opportunity for readers to get to know new writers and poets.

Questions and answers by the authors (in Russian and English) along with a short biography of each participant and links to their publications will regularly appear on the Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature Website, other literary cities' websites, and social media, etc. Writers' dialogs will also be offered for publication on the project partners platforms (literary magazines, libraries, literary media, and mass media). As a result of the project, in summer 2022 an online anthology will be released (in Russian and English) with all the conversations.

Heidelberg - Nottingham – Ingeborg von Zadow and Leanne Moden 

Ingeborg von Zadow

What are the most important things you learned during the time of lockdown about human behaviour?

Leanne Moden

I live in the UK and we went into lockdown for the first time in March 2020. All non-essential travel was banned, and everyone (apart from healthcare workers, food production and distribution staff, and the emergency services) had to work from home. Schools and universities were closed, and people were only allowed to leave their homes to buy food, and for one hour of exercise per day.

It was a very uncertain and frightening time, but at a local level, people really rallied around to support one another. Grassroots charities arranged food parcels for vulnerable people, and neighbours were checking in on each other too. It was really heartening to see people coming together to support one another through a very challenging time. This was the wonderful side of human behaviour on show – the caring, compassionate, competent-in-a-crisis side, which made me feel really proud, despite the gravity of the situation.

Of course, the constant, looming threat meant there was an undercurrent of fear and suspicion in the air, and this only grew as time went on and people became restless with the continuing restrictions. In the UK, as elsewhere in the world, there were groups who believed that the pandemic was a ‘fake’ and that the vaccinations were a conspiracy of some kind. Historically, these intensely difficult periods are often breeding grounds for conspiracy theories. In a way, this is understandable – people feel frightened and want somebody to blame, and there will always be powerful people who choose to capitalise on that fear in order to make a profit.

Luckily most of my friends and colleagues were quick to take the pandemic seriously, and make plans to protect our health service and those who are more medically vulnerable to COVID.

The UK had several periods of lockdown between March 2020 and the summer of 2021 and, as of November 2021, shops, businesses and schools are all open again. On the one hand, the pandemic has showcased the incredible compassion, resilience and fortitude that humans have, and our ability to thrive and solve problems when we work together. On the other hand, it has also fostered fear and suspicion, and the lockdowns have increased disconnection, loneliness and serious mental health issues for many people. Time will tell if we can learn any lessons from the pandemic, but I hope so. Because when we work together, we can move mountains. 


Ingeborg von Zadow

Ingeborg von Zadow, playwright, was born in Berlin and grew up in Germany, the USA and Belgium. She started writing plays in early childhood and hasn´t stopped since. She worked as Assistant Director on various opera and play productions and holds a MA degree in Theater from the State University of New York at Binghamton, USA. Ingeborg von Zadow won the Brother-Grimm-Prize of the State of Berlin and was nominated for the National German Children´s Theater Prize and the Mülheimer Children’s Plays Prize. With the support of the Goethe Institute, she traveled to Australia, England, Greece, Croatia, Poland, Sri Lanka and the USA. There have been numerous productions of Ingeborg von Zadow´s plays on German and international stages, her work has been translated into eleven different languages. Her first opera (libretto) will Premiere in 2022. Ingeborg von Zadow lives in the UNESCO City of Literature Heidelberg, Germany, and is currently Co-Speaker of Heidelbergs Authors. 

Leanne Moden

Leanne Moden is a poet, performer and educator, based in Nottingham. She’s performed at events across the UK and Europe, including recent sets at WOMAD Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Sofar Sounds, and Bestival on the Isle of Wight, as well as shows in Estonia and Spain. Leanne performed at the TEDx WOMEN event at UCL in 2016, and was a semi-finalist at the BBC Edinburgh Fringe Slam in 2019. She is currently working on her first full-length theatre show, Skip, Skip, Skip, which is about identity, music and belonging, and her second pamphlet of poetry, ‘Get Over Yourself’ was published by Burning Eye Books in 2020.

Previous issues

  1. Heidelberg-Ulyanovsk – Şafak Sariçiçek and Sergei Gogin
  2. Melbourne - Heidelberg – Christopher Raja and Klaus Kayser
  3. Calgary-Mannheim - Kelly Kaur And Claudia Schmid
  4. Melbourne And Ulyanovsk - Rijn Collins and Gala Uzryutova