March 17, 2013

Ulrike Draesner

Ulrike Draesner [Germany]

Born in Munich in 1962, Ulrike Draesner now lives in Berlin. She attending the University of Munich and went on to Oxford, earning a Ph.D. with a dissertation on Wolfram’s Parzifal.
     Draesner first entered the literary scene with her noted 1995 collection gedächtnissche-leifen, for which she won the Föderpreis of the Leonce-und-Lena Prize. Her collection anis-o-trop was awarded the Bayrischer Staatasförderpreis for Literature in 1997. Her collection für die nacht geheuerte zellen was awarded the Hölderlin-Förderpreis in 2001.
     The poet also writes fiction, and has published two novels, Lictpause (Volk und Welt, 1998) and Mitgift (Luchterhand, 2002). Her multimedia collaborations include a space poem for Hong Kong and various internet projects. Most recently, Draesner was awarded the Preis der Literaturhäuser in 2002. She also published a book of short stories, Hot Dogs, in 2004.


gedächtnisschleifen (Frankfurt-am-Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1995); anis-o-trop (Hamburg, Rospo Verlag, 1997); für die nacht geheuerte zellen (München: Luchterhand, 2001); Kugelblitz (München: Luchterhand, 2005)


poems in Chicago Review: New Writing in German, Vol 48, nos 2/3 (2002); poems in Dimension2, Vol 6, nos 2/3 (2003)

Am My Own Zoo

sow bug, little hammer,
flying hamster in wheel,
koala package and absurd limp,
mosquito with the consumption
of a vampire, Pavlov dog being praised,
suddenly boa, curled round thorns in the morning
white weasel in snow, in the evening
spider monkey, well-worn bumble-bee plush
—heat bends the fear, motionless
in bed, the keeper—
she draws up a needle. my crooked
back self lies in segments,
mute as an ant, antenna,
jaw, too small. even ants
would like to be birds, bust some
already fall as kids from the rock
into the river, crocodiles
eat many, come on
and swim, says mother

—Translated from the German by Andrew Shields

Kasper Hauser’s Underpants

a Darwin on the backpack
everywhere sex and as of
recently these apphabetic
knees? distinguish
humans then, but
from what? a pair of underpants, sent
by ups (small package) they peeled
a few cells off when they shot right
into the weeds, the myths: was it him, wasn’t it,
angelica horsetail the
snapping ferns their Silurian
slime yes they happy slurping
green shadow glided by on the ground
a mouse the gene boomed
underpants kaspar hauser 1 cell
giggled in the bush ups
from the mouse’s back
grew a human ear
and really
entirely without fur.

 —Translated from the German by Andrew Shields

         (three months later)

can you see the clouds up high, above the blackbird, the suckling
sun, on it? hear the tufts of trees, the mistletoe twigs
see the nest of empty branches? all around, time goes. here
and there it snows us. onto the earth, as small soul, in the skirt
of body, and glad. between the leaves, see,
it hops in snow, blinks at you. a cyberjewel, on
the blackbird’s feathers. crystal, lighter than snow.
the sun licks it. it hums. it buzzes. it is
fiberglass, like underground, red, like in a wall,
mother, in you. how you sit there and think: you.
turn around, turn away, look, for the branch. it pokes
you in the hip, under your jeans, song buzzing there. i
am so light, as a little one, gone away, from you.

you bought it. two goldfish swim in it. green
the algae’s arms wave behind. Always in the same direction,
the fish swim in glass, circle, their black eyes
are like the moon. it too has a side that’s invisible. the
glass stands in you see with vein between hip
and pubis. i snow as winter into the room. you smile.
the moon, unutterable, in the room, too. little orange stars
the fish swim around us.

  —Translated from the German by Andrew Shields

“Am My Own Zoo,” Kasper Hausr’s Underpants,” and “You”
Reprinted from Chicago Review: New Writing in German, Volume 48, nos. 2/3 (Summer 2002). English language translation copyright ©2002 by Chicago Review and Andrew Shields. Reprinted by permission of Andrew Shields.

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