Archive for the ‘April 2012’ Category

WHAT COULD ALSO BE SAID – for Günther Grass

四月 18, 2015


for Günther Grass

why do they print, why do they distribute
what grass has said, weapons for israel
what will they do with german submarines
built for nuclear missiles?

many who grew up beneath those missiles
with fathers who knew or didn’t know
where their fathers went or what they did,

many who grew up under the weapons
they might understand those who are afraid.

grass didn’t say who should bomb whom.

he asked for observation of weapons
and nuclear reactors at the same time.

what are poems for? what is easter for?
what should have been done in 2012?

MW April 2015

Moroccan Fountain

十月 3, 2012

Moroccan Fountain, Vienna
Marokkanergasse, Vienna

the sun is streaming
against the mosaic.
the fountain’s broken,
turned off.
the people are busy, most of them.
it’s 9 am.
shopping, smoking.
high heels. maybe productive.
in jackets and scarves.
it’s chilly compared with a few days ago.
for a moment, the sun.
the warm morning sun.

MW August 2012

From August 28. 周二,8月28日。 The sun was on the door at eight or nine. In the afternoon it’s around the corner. The door to the street is over 100 years old, like the house. Military officer’s quarters, originally. Our apartment is downstairs, ground floor. Still expensive, inner city. The picture is from May. The pictures below are from Beijing. Click on them and get to a song of healthy food.

Magazine presentation in Vienna

四月 25, 2012

Mit dem Kopf durch die Chinesische Mauer

Wienzeile, a literature magazine coming out in Vienna, Austria, with entries in Chinese, English and German. Lots of new literature by Hsia Yü 夏宇、Yan Jun 顏峻、Hung Hung 鴻鴻、Zheng Xiaoqiong 鄭小瓊、Yu Jian 于堅、Ma Lan 馬蘭、Qi Ge 七格、Wu Yinning 吳音寧、Lin Weifu 林維甫、Tong Yali 彤雅立、 Pang Pei 龐培、Liao Yiwu 廖亦武 and many others.

Art work and photos by Linda Bilda, Yang Jinsong 楊勁松, Chen Xi 陳熹, Emy Ya 葉宛玲 and others. 

Articles by Han Han 韓寒 and Hu Yong 胡泳. And an article comparing Charter 08 to Charter 77, written by Helena Nejedla, Czech Republic. If you get hungry while reading, we have a recipe for 四川鍋盔.


Two books in German

四月 25, 2012

Two books in German

Simon Urban’s Plan D appeared in August 2011, Bei Ling’s Ausgewiesen has come out in March 2012. Both are tied to my experiences in Taiwan, in different ways. Simon Urban is a young German author. He is not from the East, the former GDR, and there seems to be nothing in his biography to make him destined for writing a novel on history. And yet he belongs to a continuing thread of history in German literature, told in various forms, often through family stories. Female authors tell family stories, and there are many immigrants writing in German. Their writings are often set in the regions where they come from, and many tell histories of families. History is a topic that just doesn’t seem to go away in Germany and Austria. Nobel prize laureates Elfriede Jelinek and Herta Müller both write about painful topics from the recent histories of their countries. Herta Müller is from Romania. She is a Romanian author writing in German, mostly about Romanian contemporary history. And she’s living in Germany, for historical reasons. Elfriede Jelinek writes on Austria’s contemporary history, through her plays and novels. She writes in a very special language, a language that unmasks the thoughtless style of the media and contemporary discourse throughout Austrian society. One of her plays is called Winterreise, evoking Schubert, in her own special way. Another play relives a murderous party in the small town of Rechnitz in 1944.

Simon Urban’s novel is a thriller. It is the story of an East German police officer who has to find the murderer of a mysterious man, hanged near the Berlin Wall. The wall still exists, the GDR still exists, in 2011. Agents and counter-agents, state security and the Energy Ministry. Don’t trust anyone. Including your colleagues from the West. It’s a thick book, bursting with very evocative descriptions of situations in Berlin inside a frustrated policeman’s mind. Often funny, as well as haunting.

Simon Urban attended a creative writing academy in Leipzig. One of his teachers was the Austrian Writer Josef Haslinger, who also became famous through writing a thriller. It’s about a terrorist coup at the Opera Ball, related to Austrian contemporary history, of course. But Mr. Haslinger was not supportive of Mr. Urban’s project. “The GDR is deader than dead”, he used to say. Mr. Urban has proven him wrong. Plan D will come out in English in early 2013.

Bei Ling’s memoir begins in 2009, the year he got famous in Germany. He was invited as an exiled Chinese writer to speak at a panel at the China-focus Frankfurt book fair, then asked not to attend, along with Dai Qing, a veteran female writer and environment activist in Beijing. Both of them gate-crashed Frankfurt, with German media support. The book then jumps back to 1979 and the Beijing Democracy Wall. Activism and literature are inseparable for Bei Ling. He gives a very personal account of the 1980’s underground poetry scene, and goes on through his years in the US and his friendship with Susan Sontag, who helps him out when he is imprisoned for printing an illegal literature journal in Beijing.

Suhrkamp deserves credit for recognizing some of Bei Ling’s potential. They certainly helped to make him known in Germany. The translation of “Ausgewiesen” is good. Most of the book reads very similar to Bei Ling’s essays in the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and in Der Spiegel. The empathy, the little details, the very personal atmosphere. Bei Ling can make you feel as if you were there with him in Beijing in the early 1980s. Maybe you know some of the names, like all the famous Misty Poets. But nobody has  told it in such an intimate way, not even Bei Dao, in his fascinating recollections. When “Ausgewiesen” came out in March, the FAZ carried the first review. It was dominated by the complaint that Bei Ling didn’t include much, much more about all these fascinating topics. That’s the fault of his editors at Suhrkamp, of course. The original manuscript was easily twice as long. I’ve seen it. And like other publishers, they don’t have an editor who reads Chinese. Maybe you know Jung Chang, who wrote Wild Swans. I am pretty sure Bei Ling mentions her, but in the German text she becomes a man called Zhang Rong. Hu Ping, editor of Beijing Spring and one of the oldest Chinese exiles in New York, becomes Hu Pingzheng.

Plan D is a rather thick book. Well edited, nothing important peeled away. Simon Urban is a maniac for detailed descriptions, and you always feel these locations in action. Urban succeeds in creating a Berlin that can feel at least as real as the one you know. It is all there, this is how it could have turned out. How it is, behind the surface, at many places.

So how are these books related to Taiwan? Simon Urban was at the 2012 Taipei book fair. His book was very well received, and many people asked questions. They have a real life Communist country to deal with, which is related to them in various ways. Bei Ling runs a small press in Taiwan called Tendency, which grew out of the literature journal with the same name. They print works by Havel and Celan, among others. Taiwan is a place that accommodates many different ventures and makes many things possible. A long tradition of immigration, everything thrown together. They had a one-party dictatorship themselves, and an economic miracle too. But since 1987 they have an ongoing process of democratization, including recognition of their own history, their various ethnicities and so on. It makes one think of recent history and present times in parts of Europe and elsewhere. These are the connections, between the late Vaclav Havel and a fictional Undead GDR, between Paul Celan, exile and reckoning with the past, between poetry and stories of spies.

Addendum: Exiled Chinese writers, like Ma Jian and Bei Ling, have protested against official China monopolizing the China focus at the London book fair this spring. Click here for press coverage in Dutch, English and German.

廖亦武歌一首 Liao Yiwu: Moonlight going through the woods

四月 20, 2012

Liao Yiwu



Moonlight going through the woods

and I think of my beloved

resting in the yellow earth

and a shot rings far away.


I was full of arduous thoughts

shouldering my country’s fate

now my hands are hanging bare

blunt and rusty is my blade.


Moonlight going through my head

and I think of my beloved

I am wandering, growing old

you are dead, forever young.


Tr. MW, Apr. 2012


四月 10, 2012

was gesagt werden koennte

warum drucken sie, verbreiten sie alle,
was legitim ist und waffenverkaeufen
begegnet, die fragwuerdig sind?
nichts anderes tut grass. mit einem gedicht

gegen die tatsache, dass deutschland
u-boote an israel liefert,
die fuer atomraketen gebaut sind.
sollte deutschland das tun?

viele, die aufwuchsen
unter raketen
mit vaetern,
als kinder gebrannt
von verbrechen bekannter
und oder verschollener vaeter;

manche, die aufwachsen unter raketen
die immer noch da sind
verstehen wahrscheinlich
dass jemand angst hat.

ob israel anlagen im iran
aus denen atomwaffen kommen koennten
bombardieren sollte
hat grass nicht gesagt.

er wollte kontrolle
iranischer atomanlagen,
israelischer bomben.
das ist legitim.

koennen gedichte
so etwas bewirken?
ist jedenfalls da.

MW Ostermontag, 9. April 2012

“Was gesagt werden muss” von Günter Grass hat mich inspiriert, es war in der Zeitung, zu Ostern, am Ostersonntag in Österreich, ein bisschen später als in Deutschland. Ich habe die Silben gezählt, die meisten Zeilen haben ungefähr zehn. Ich höre immer auf einen Rhythmus.

Das interessanteste an dem Gedicht von Grass- Wolf Biermann nennt es “Gedacht”– ist natürlich die Diskussion, die wochenlange Verbreitung und Diskussion durch so viele Medien, Foren etc. Maybe you know the poem by Leon de Winter, a rather violent reaction. And the interview with Marcel Reich-Ranicki in the Frankfurt FAZ, very interesting.

Mich erinnert dieser Text von Grass an die Friedensbewegung, also an die 80er Jahre, ungefähr 1984, da war ich 18. Da hab ich an meiner ersten Demo teilgenommen, mit meiner Russischlehrerin. Vielleicht war es zu Ostern, es gab die Ostermärsche der Friedensbewegung, gegen die neuerliche Aufrüstung mit Atomraketen. Auf der Seite der Rechten, also nicht nur bei den Republikanern in Amerika, sondern auch bei den Leuten, die in Deutschland, Frankreich etc. an der Macht sind- hoffentlich ändert sich das bald, hoppauf, Holland! – auf der Seite der Rechten hatte Reagan recht, der habe mit diesen Pershing-Raketen (Petting statt Pershing, ein Slogan von damals) Gorbatschow besiegt. In Wirklichkeit war Gorbatschow der Gute, und Reagan der Böse. Relativ halt. Russisch war ein Wahlpflichtfach in meiner Mittelschule. Realgymnasium, Schwerpunkt Mathematik. Leider. Latein wär besser gewesen, weiss man nachher. Russisch war gut. Aus Ungarn, die Lehrerin. Frau Professor Elisabeth Waldmann, unterrichtet noch dort, soviel ich weiss. Deutsch, hauptsächlich. Hatte sie studiert, in Ungarn. Unlängst war ein Interview im Radio, mit György Dalos, Romancier und Gorbatschow-Biograph. Dass die Auflösung des Warschauer Pakts und die Desintegration der Sowjetunion relativ unblutig waren – im Vergleich zu den Jugoslawienkriegen der 90er Jahre- , dafür müsse man Gorbatschow danken. Klang recht schlüssig. Dalos war damals sehr aktiv, als Oppositioneller in Ungarn in den 80er Jahren, mit vielen Kontakten in die DDR. Und jetzt kann er wahrscheinlich recht gut einschätzen, wieviel schöner es für Ungarn wäre, jemanden wie den jetzigen BRD-Präsidenten Gauck an der Spitze zu haben, als jemanden, der seine Doktorarbeit abgeschrieben hat und auch deshalb als schwaches Aushängeschild der rechtspopulistischen Regierung angesehen wird.

Grass regt zum Nachdenken an. Und zwar sehr viele. Das ist schon nicht wenig. Er hat halt Angst vor Atomraketen und vermisst die Ostermärsche der Friedensbewegung. Glaubt er, dass Israel den Weltfrieden bedroht? Klingt absurd, wahrscheinlich auch für ihn. Atomraketen sind böse, generell. Raketen überall, ausser auf dem Mond, vielleicht. Aber, aber ….
Nix aber. Grass hat halt Angst. Und erinnert (sich) an die 80er Jahre. Pessach und Ostern und Frieden sind halt verknüpft. Das ist nicht seine Schuld. Ausser, dass er halt im Krieg war, als Deutscher. Auf der falschen Seite, das sagt er eh. Aber er hat halt was Arges verschwiegen, und war derweil sehr viel politisch aktiv.

Und mir ist halt die Sprache wichtig, deshalb derweil. Wie bei Robert Schindel. Ciao derweil.


四月 2, 2012

reis, palmsonntag

das reis bist du
du bist der baum
du bist was keimt
was treibt was traegt
bist was sich wiegt
was liegt was steht
was wiederkommt
wenn es vergeht

MW 1. April 2012

Botanischer Garten Wien, 1. April 2012

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