Sunday, February 14, 2010

lucille clifton (1936-2010)

poet lucille clifton died yesterday. here's one of my favourite poems by her:


who would believe them winged
who would believe they could be

beautiful         who would believe
they could fall so in love with mortals

that they would attach themselves
as scars attach and ride the skin

sometimes we hear them in our dreams
rattling their skulls         clicking their bony fingers

envying our crackling hair
our spice filled flesh

they have heard me beseeching
as I whispered into my own

cupped hands       enough not me again
enough       but who can distinguish

one human voice   
amid such choruses of   desire

-- lucille clifton

song of the day: man of the hour by pearl jam.


heinz and i first met 18 months ago yesterday - 13 august 2008, so we spent a lovely, relaxing saturday together. :)

song of the day: life is sweet by natalie merchant.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


i'd been looking forward to last night's element of crime concert since i first heard about the 2010 tour. it was my 4th - the venue once again gasometer, which is far from perfect, but unfortunately vienna doesn't seem to have any decent venues of that size. anyway: the band was great - as usual, i should add. i'm tempted to say that this was actually the best EOC concert i've been to. the musicians are all very, very good, i'm smitten with sven regener's trumpet(-playing). they've been playing together for ages, which could lead to boredom, i suppose, but boring is not a word that comes to mind when i think of last night's performance.

it was so very cool that they played really old songs, even some of the very early days EOC songs in english, in addition to many songs from the latest album. i was particularly pleased that they played "am ende denk ich immer nur an dich", which is my favourite song on their latest album - such delightful lyrics; "jetzt musst du springen", which is an old fave of mine; "schwere see".

EOC are not a band for those who are looking for something new on every album, let alone in every song. sven regener (songwriter, poet, writer, mastermind) himself says that he's been writing the same few songs over and over again since the early 90s. but then they never sound exactly the same, there are no identical twins. there's always a twist somewhere (both in music and lyrics), a fabulous new phrase or pun, an image that is striking in its simplicity and/or its "i've-never-looked-at-this-in-quite-the-same-way" originality (for want of a better word). regener is a keen observer of the everyday, and - in my opinion - the most poetic german songwriter. there are quite a few lines in his lyrics that have made me think "i wish *i* had thought of that!", which is a great compliment.

of course, being a poet myself, i have a weakness for wordplay, for unexpected word choices in strange places that can open up whole new worlds. and something i loved about last night was the fact that there were visible and audible reactions to certain images regener painted with words: a smile, a laugh, a snicker, a "ha!", or clapping - occasionally i could tell that the person had probably never heard that song before, or never paid attention to that particular part. it's fantastic to be among people who appreciate that. it's a sign that poetry IS appreciated, enjoyed.

thanks, sven regener, thanks element of crime, for a lovely evening: "vielndank!"

review & set list in german @ fm4: Agentenfunkchansons und Zahlen

song of the day: am ende denk ich immer nur an dich by element of crime.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

colds, headaches, crime, and poetry

my students apparently brought enough germs to the classroom to make me sick, too, so i had to stay home from work for a couple of days. blah.

at least i had time to read a novel that managed to give me nightmares two nights in a row - "menschenteufel" (which translates as "human devil") by marcus rafelsberger. i am not normally a fan of crime novels, but i was curious, as rafelsberger is an old schoolmate's husband. quite well-written, but then i don't have much to compare it to. but it certainly held my attention! a bonus was that the book is set in vienna, and therefore i repeatedly came across places i know. i am now ready to begin another jasper fforde novel - yay!

another book i just (re-)read is jayne pupek's poetry collection "forms of intercession". if i had to sum up the book in one word, it would be: brave. it's been a while since i read a book of poems that confronted me with so much beauty and so much unpleasantness - in short: everything human. pupek doesn't stop where others might not dare to go, and that makes her stand out. there are poems that i've returned to four, five, ten times - and i am sure will go back to again. it's as if they grabbed me by the throat when i first read them, and have not quite let go. while the best way to learn about life is still, well, living it, but books like pupek's come a close second.

my muse probably didn't want to catch my cold and has been quite for a few days, but before she took that time-out, we created this (not decided on the [sub]title yet):

Thulium (Tm)

       I swear I'm only human, wishing I could disappear
       -- Amelia Curran, "The Mistress"

This is what happens when gods get drunk:
You start a conversation and ice is left to melt

in fancy drinks. Hours later, three hasty kisses
and the cold metal of his ring against your cheek.

By then it's already too late for the promise
you made to yourself: this ends right here.

The first time, you make butterflies dance
on the blanket. You measure time in heartbeats

and the cooling of sweaty limbs. Months later,
it's pale green sheets and the ticking of a clock

that translates as judgement - wrong, sad,
wrong, sad - and stirs the beginnings of loathing,

rushes the slow dying of love. Gravedigger
you call yourself, late at night, when you wake

from dreams that are part of the high price
you pay. Gravedigger. And you are digging deep.

You have 69 random words in your pockets –
for a love letter, for a note of farewell.

The one word that's missing is hope. The gods
who tempted you are fast asleep. Like him

in that other place, where your mind can't go,
which you'd still know by its scent: routine, love,

and lies. Your shadow sleeps between them,
but that doesn't comfort you. When this is over,

there won't be any sympathy, just as there are
no gifts: you are the beggar, you are the thief.

song of the day: breathe (2 am) by anna nalick.