December 13, 2010

Anja Utler

Anja Utler [Germany/lives Austria]

Born in Schwandorf, Germany in 1973, Anja Utler studied eastern Slavonic languages, as well as elocution, in Regensburg, Norwich, and St. Petersburg.

Her first volume of poetry, asfsagen, was published in 1999, followed by münden - entzügeln (engulf - enkindle) in 2004. The year before, she received her doctorate for her thesis on women Russian modernist poets.

That same year she was awarded the Leonce-und-Lena-Preis, an award devoted to outstanding younger poets. That award jury described her poetry as "sensual sound constructions, on paper as in recitation, without being pure sound-poetry. Rather, they are language games of psychological world perception, that out of the substance of their words create shafts of illumination through which our curiosity, but also our bafflement in the exploration of language, feel their way."

British publisher-critic Tony Frazer has written of her work: "An astonishing work for a young poet, startlingly assured in the way that it bores down into the language and allows the language itself to become an actor in the unfolding of the poem's 'story,' rather than simply an accomplice."

More recent books include brinnen (2006) and jana, vermacht (2009). In 2010 Burning Deck published Kurt Beals' translation of Utler's engulf - enkindle. She also edited Heiß auf dich. 100 Lock- und Liebesgedichte (2002).

For the last several years, Utler has lived in Vienna, where her work is published by Edition Korrespondenzen.


asfsagen (Lintig-Meckelstedt: Bunte Raben Verlag, 1999); münden - entzügeln (Vienna: Edition Korrespondenzen, 2004); brinnen (Vienna: Edition Korrespondenzen, 2006); jana, vermacht (Vienna: Edition Korrespondenzen, 2009)


Selections in Mouth to Mouth: Contemporary German Poetry in Translation, edited by Thomas Wohlfarth and Tobias Lehmkuhl (Newcastle, Australia: Giramondo Publishing Company, 2004); selections in 16 New (to American Readers) Poets (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck/Anyart, 2008); engulf - enkindle, trans. by Ku rt Beals (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck/Anyart, 2010)

that seem to be one: partial extraction
(second movement)


as if thinned

raw: is the clearing is bristling and bare
to the sun: the eyes graze over ravel, scrap, as if
loose as if: scraping until: the eye catches
in clusters of liverwort: lifewort
stalks - as they're known, known too as -
agrimony, is grown over with: prickling
fruits that it: claws into the foreign tissue it
knits it - it's said - back together, skins over
as if: it adhered, blued the: hide to the sclera,
tarsi, cornea should: be severed be
sanded see: how the stalks, stranded
at forest's edge, glow


the slagheaps, seen

from afar: these plains whose: backbone whose
ridge has to bend to: bring up from the soil
- so it's called - scraps of stone that - one
knows - were of no use - depleted - now they are
made smooth beneath sheets of grass: an even peak that
enwraps them like gravel in roots: the steles that: shoot out
so to speak that: are windwheels on wings that
radiate: light to be focused reflected through air (...)

now and then still: beset from below the sapped
cavity crusting over that: darkens - no doubt -
in earth-smoke in dead nettles grows wild and - over
the face, as a shadow, like lightning - pours out


all but - untangles

just blindly to fool: finger through them the: shoots
that: spear, splay towards each other
the: needles, swept through: to have cut
through them stepped through - it's said - seedling cultures
of spruces and spruces shot up so they: cross
hook their branch tips in tangles dig through them to
feather out: suddenly

stand at the clearing - there: windwheels spread far
from each other they: circle on grass: lift themselves clear -
and not see: these twigs in the back, broken through how
they: tremble still prick: up the neck


as if divested

stands - standing - not run through, no not
even scraped through the: protective tissue
propped up against limestone cliff railings is braced
against: edging - know that: will not topple
will not; fall towards it - towards this basin
where it: backs up - chocked - slags, does not
even know of the pine trunks that: bend - far off,
waterstressed - spilling their
seed: into their, lapping image their own
aiming far: past the eyes


exposed - nearing

not even: entangled by breath yet just: haltingly
enter enduring the: mudflats this clay crust,
silicious, congeals - two days now fished dry -
grazed: to the ground - the feet scrape -
are enflanked: by clay veins that: enmire them like
bushels: of fish remnants gills - overlooked - that
already freeze crackle, but soft, in the early frost


yet: as if averted

given: breath but - still shaking - to want to be
washed in the: oxbow - be waterlogged - palpate its
pools that are: welted, are waste they: seethe
tremble towards: poplar trunk - finger - would
lick want to colonize it as to: age in its
blazes- know: so they're called: cuts in the bark -
palpable clefts so: porous, so scaly they: shelter the
stagnant zones: deadened around calloused
fingertips they: bead up - numb - and roll off



sure: to leave that behind - bleary - eddy,
the: riverscape, rushing stream so-called:
the poplars, meanders, wild bank growth
that: snare, rip, sink now - swiftly -
through the mist over the bristling field at once: plunges
drives: into the throat triggers - once more - the urge to cough


escaped, to turn back would be: - blinded -
the stems standing ripped open upward
have splayed: into dilated pupils just roughly
outlines so; they loom they spill down to the
riverbed flee behind bend after bend - carried off
it's said - glisten, to each other: as if from afar


simply: in walking to count that off - mutely -
the waterforms landforms the aquiculture
roughly and further to follow the hollows, damned
and demarcated, over the field and farther almost: to the riverbed
narrow, the soaking seam already: markedly
wooded stands most of: poplars of alders that
shadow the: nettles, for instance, the lower shrub
growth the herb growth that can barely be taken in
colonized by bristly, woodenly budding (..)
believe they: are unnamed - not even grazed
by the eyes - remain standing

—Translated from the German by Kurt Beals

(from münden - entzüngeln, 2004)

English language copyright ©2010 by Kurt Beals. Reprinted from engulf — enkindle, trans. by Kurt Beals (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck/Anyart, 2010). Reprinted by permission.

1 comment:

Pouting Bear said...

Wow, I wasn't aware of Anja Utler, so thanks :)