Germany Sifting Through the Ruins Randy MayerFall 2011
Table of Contents • Introduction 3 • Volker Braum 6 • The Hill of the Dead 7 • Massacre of the Illusions 8 • Uwe Kolbe 9 • The Water Near Which We Live 10 • Melancholy (The Crisis) 11 • Thomas Kling 12 • Taunus Sample 13 • Serner 14 • SilkeScheuermann 15 • Transformed Willow 16 • The Tattoo Artist 17 • Peter Huchel 18 • Melpomene 19 • Answer 20
In the years following the fall of the Nazi regime there was a period of great uncertainty and suffering for the German people. Millions of Germans were forced from their homes and land to wander aimlessly to other parts of the world. In the worst period after the war there were daily beatings and killings of the citizens of Germany. There was also a huge wave of gang rapes by occupying forces, mostly Russians, where girls as young as eight were raped by as many as sixty men was very common. Along with this there was a time of great food shortages . There has been stories of human meat being sold as meatballs in the main markets. The German people were completely at the mercy of groups that wanted nothing more than their absolute suffering and death as payback for what their countrymen had done to them. With occupation by different groups came a dividing of the people who already didn’t know where to go politically, individually or even as a country.
They also had a huge depression economically as Ralph Keeling states in his book: “It’s difficult to imagine the depth of German depression. When the United States reached the bottom of 1932, industrial production had fallen to sixty per cent of normal. The depression was so severe , the losses so enormous, the unemployment so widespread that it almost brought a revolution. Industrial production in Germany a year after V-E Day was ten percent of what used to be normal”(Keeling). Over the years, life in West Germany, under the direction of the United States, grew to be a very well off entity. While their counterparts to the East stayed in a very desperate situation under the direction of Communist Russia. Their was widespread starving and deaths in the winters due to freezing were very common. In Death and Life of Germany, Eugene Davidson writes about a group of German workers having a meeting saying: “Another speaker took his
Place; he said he had spent five years in a concentration camp under Hitler and would gladly spend ten years more if it would bring freedom”(333). He was speaking about how the Russians rules their country with a spiteful iron fist. Through all this confusion and suffering their were a few writers and poets that got their experiences and feelings about this time period out. There were only a few because most writings were suppressed as the Germans were not allowed to express disapproval of their Russian rulers. The Germans had a lot of rebuilding to do as their country was in ruins from the war . All cities with a population of 50,000 or more were more than sixty percent destroyed. And with what the Nazis did they had little to no sympathy for their suffering.
Thomas Kling, unquestionably one of the most important German-language poets of the current generation, died on April 1, 2005. At age 47, Kling was already more influential and formative in terms of style than almost any other poet of his generation. As a poet, he was one of the richest in his breadth of material and one of the most powerful in his use of language; on top of that, he was also one of the most controversial essayists in the German literary world of the last fifteen years. His writing ripped German poetry from the existentialist haze of the late 1970s. In Kling’s poems, we can watch an archeologist of language at work. But this archaeologist is also a magician: material from all genres is X-rayed to expose their historic, poetic, and political layers, deconstructed and recombined to form new structures of meaning and sound. “Ripping apart and reconfiguring individual appendages,” Kling calls this technique, “ – writing.” Kling wrote with encyclopedias, etymological dictionaries at hand and paintings before him, but without sitting in the archive, gathering dust. A well-grounded knowledge of history, literature, geology, and art history fuses in his poetry by way of harsh treatment with writing techniques from the media age (multiple exposures, polyvalent line breaks, cut-ups, alienation of sound and writing) to form sensual ‘language installations’, as Kling called them, which remain gripping despite all the rich knowledge injected into them. In ‘taunus sample’, for example, a description of a rowdy bar scene suddenly becomes a political poem, which sees the German past reemerging in a “stormland-”. In the continuation of one of his most important poems, ‘Manhattan Mouthspace’, written after the September 11, 2001 attack (the first part was written in 1996), Kling dissolves perception and language into one another in the representation of their media transformation: the “continually looping eye”, the “little memoria machine” in combination ultimately turn the poem into an “eye-caricature”, a threnody to a formerly intact world, blast apart. ‘history painting’ is an early example of a painting poem – a genre highly treasured Kling – in which, inspired by the supposed static visual, a dialogue between image and beholder, form and writing is ignited. Here, interstices in interpretation become accelerators of meaning; art as a utopian space that always remains conscious of its precarious position, “a landscape in which it will prosper again.”
ANSWER Between two nightsthe brief day.The farm is there.And in the thicket, a snarethe hunter set for us.Noon’s desert.It still warms the stone.Chirping in the wind,buzz of a guitardown the hillside.The slow matchof withered foliageglows against the wall.Salt-white air.Fall’s arrowheads,the crane’s migration.In bright tree limbsthe tolling hour has faded.Upon their clockworkspiders laythe veils of dead brides.
WORKS CITED German Poetry. WEB. 14 November 2011. <germany.poetryinternationalweb.org> Lyrikline. WEB. 18 November 2011 <www.lyrikline.org>