Sunday, April 12, 2009

Some quick German thoughts

Hey All – In doing a little google-search into Gerhard Falkner I stumbled onto a more contemporary German poetry fad (more contemporary than the post-war poetry stuff at least). It seems in the 80’s German poetry rejected anything but formal experiments and ‘everyday poetry' and so, in the 90's/Oughts, Falkner wanted to change things up a bit. In order to break out, Falkner began combining “formal discipline with a opulent and direct sense of the present, thus preparing the ground, as one of the first of his generation, for a poetry alive with richness and sensuality as well as melancholy and pain. [Falkner’s poems also dealt with] the estrangement of the poet, the disappearance of the writer in the background noise of his text and of history.” In one of Falkner’s new-ish works, Kopfmusik’, he writes: “forgotten will our poems / be, - stay will solely / the headache / of those who did not keep them. To read another poem of his, go here. - they show it in English and German. I'll talk further on this in class on Tuesday.

I was also interested in Uljana Wolf who was recently in Shampoo magazine – an online lit mag based out of San Fran with a special German section in issue #35, which happens to be last month, March 2009. She has two poems from DICHTionary (A German-English dictionary of false friends, true cognates and other cousins) included – both in German and English. Go here to check it out.

Here’s another poem of hers I liked:

postscript to the kreisau dogs

who says that poems are like these dogs
surrounded by their own echo at the village core

their waiting and pawing at half moon
their stubborn marking of language terrains –

he knows you not, you frantic barkers
cassandras in wallachia’s sonic reverie

you bring what’s called and what’s calf
in a foolhardy bite from behind

together as if a leg were but a leaf
and the order of things a trade:

in one of my boots still the imprint
of your teeth, a gnarly four nips

that’s your reward for a pursuant verse
thus the world follows poetry at heel

She has some poems coming out in Chicago Review Press this year as well.


  1. The poems in the Germany section seem fresher-sounding/feeling than many of the other sections. Maybe this is just good editorial work on Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright's part. Maybe the Germans just happen to be writing better, faster poetry. But I wonder if poems in the German language aren't easier to translate into English (German and English being from the same family and all). I wonder if what I'm responding to is a lack of translation static.

  2. I wonder, too, about that lack of translation static, Daniela. But there's still those idiomatic phrases like "to boot" in Falkner's poem and "language terrains" feels a bit heavy to me, but maybe that's just me? (I realize I'm referencing the poems here, though, not in our anthology).

    Still, yes, these poems seem fresher, and the ones included on this website both certainly have boots (to boot, my boots, etc.) which brings up some scary Plathian Daddy resonances for me.


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