In late 2019, Nottingham celebrated the 50th anniversary of its twinning with Karsruhe, a German city of similar size situated on the Rhineland plain. Throughout this half-century, our links have been strengthened through mutual visits of delegates, students (through the Erasmus+ scheme) and many other ways. This spirit of cooperation and friendship have served to build bridges and spread understanding in ways that correspond to the ideals UNESCO hold: fittingly, Karlsruhe joined us on the Creative Cities Network last year, becoming a UNESCO City of Media Arts.

Poet Jo Dixon marked the occasion by gathering together experiences from those who have visited our twin city on exchanges; from these she wrote a poem that was read by Jo, and presented to the visitors from Karlsruhe by the leader of the City Council during a celebratory dinner at Wollaton Hall to mark the 50-year anniversary of the Nottingham-Karlsruhe partnership.

Here’s the poem:

Karlsruhe Nottingham 50

One of us here, the other there.

Between, a blue beam of ceramic tiles—

the Blauer Strahl

making space for us,

making time for us. Nudged,

our unfamiliar lives tilt

together. Host and stranger

held by the ribs of your city

fanning south, west and east.

Trams rumbling there,

trams rumbling here.

A network forged

by an expansion of thought.

Along the tracks, our streets

flicker and echo: friends

meeting in cafés, school kids

hanging by the gate,

two domes, marathon runners,

castles on the hills,

kindergarten name pegs,

first paintings drying on racks,

construction sites, cranes,

Christmas lights and glühwein,

choirs blending their voices,

violins playing spiccato, plastic ducks

on the Alb and the Trent,

one pyramid, a bow and arrow,

Hajo Walter, love.

We walk the Blauer Strahl,

tending twin paths,

holding the gift of the other,

our coat sleeves touching.

Jo Dixon.

Composed with the voices and memories of Georgie Burdett, Mary and Arnold Butler, Nigel Cooke, Rebecca

Holt, Debbie Hemsley, Olivia Rowe and Letrice Serrant.