Mara-Daria CojocaruFellow; Writer in Virtual Residence
Mara is a poet and philosopher from Germany, and is Privatdozentin at the Munich School of Philosophy. At PAN Works she is establishing a new project on “animal-assisted philosophy” – a blend of philosophical and creative writing that is not just about, but with and for other animals.
As a philosopher, she has taught at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, the Munich School of Philosophy and the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, and she has been visiting scholar at the University of Sheffield, the University of Brighton and the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. In addition to political philosophy, philosophical pragmatism and the philosophy of emotion, animal ethics and politics is her area of specialisation.
Mara has always engaged in public philosophy, mainstreaming animal issues not only within broader philosophical debates, but engaging wider audiences through her writing and workshops. For example, her 2021 book on pragmatism and animal ethics has received considerable attention from a number of major German media outlets.
As a poet, Mara explores human-animal relations with the goal of acknowledging the impact, negative and positive, humans and other animals can have on each other’s lives. Rather than straightforwardly “activist”, she likes to think of her poems as “potentialist.” The poems show the transformative potential of such acknowledgment and allow readers to experiment with seeing animals and, importantly, experiencing themselves differently.
Of her four books of poetry published in German, the ones from 2016 and 2021 (with Schöffling & Co.) have been placed in the tradition of nature writing. She has won the German Prize for Nature Writing in 2021 (alongside the Bavarian Young Talents Award for Literature in 2017, the Alfred-Gruber Prize 2021, and the Mondseer Poetry Prize 2021). Her poetry has been widely anthologised and translated. Before COVID-19, she used to regularly give readings and she has ample experience in running poetry workshops for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
Mara now lives in the UK with three rescue dogs who inspired this project – Doktor Humphrey Stumpfkorn, Norman Ben Goof, and Spud von Ratzky! During the UK’s first lockdown, Mara started systematizing her lived experience with dogs and studied human-animal-interactions at the University of Denver. Though she would not call herself a dog-trainer, much of her time is spent living and learning with dogs: whether that be in the context of multispecies poetry, nosework or simply figuring out the good life from a more-than-human perspective.