Kurt Drawert [translated by Paul-Henri Campbell]

Two Poems

Innenmuster (Interior Patterns)

Childhood, a woman
who strolls
through dreams
and swaps them
for her teacher's dreams.

Remote controlled toys.
The stirrings of stuffed animals.
Learning a foreign language stable
with walls gradually destroyed
by woodworms: words that are the words
of others.

I have loved my seducers and defilers,
they were good-natured people.

But today,
having escaped that house,
when I search for my meaning
among things:

paths, memory trails,
actions
that are acts of memory,

then I have,
then I do not know
what I have gained
what I have lost

and it all seems to me
as though there is a women
strolling through a dream.


Kindheit, eine Frau,
die durch die Träume
spaziert
und sie vertauscht
gegen die Träume des Lehrers.

Fernsteuerbares Spielzeug.
Die Bewegung von Stofftieren.
Fremdsprache lernen im Stall,
dessen Wände die Würmer
zerstören: Worte, die die Worte
der anderen sind.

Mine Verführer hab ich geliebt,
sie waren gutmütige Leute.

Aber wenn ich heute,
aus dem Haus gekommen,
in den Dingen
meine Bedeutungen suche:

Wege, die Erinnerungswege,
Handlungen,
die Erinnerungshandlungen sind,

habe ich,
ich weiß nicht,
was ich besitze,
was ich verlor,

und mir ist, als spazierte
eine Frau durch den Traum.


Nach dem Sommer (After Summer)

The nameplate belonging
to the previous tenant is
still hanging at the door, rusty.

Everywhere gold is falling
out of the sockets,
the marble is chipping off.

Even dying
is faster now
than last year.

No reminders of payment,
no registration times any more,
cuts needed to be put in effect.

September doesn’t lie.

We are waving
towards the South,

keeping our passports ready.
Into the trash
we sweep the blossoms.


Vom letzten Mieter
hängt noch das Schild
an der Haustür, rostig.

Überall fällt Gold
aus der Fassung,
splittert der Marmor.

Auch gestorben
wird schneller,
als im vergangenen Jahr.

Keine Mahnungen mehr,
keine Anmeldezeiten,
es muß gespart werden.

Der September lügt nicht.
Wir winken
in Richtung Süden,

halten die Pässe im Anschlag.
Zum Abfall
kehren wir die Blüten.


Photo by Ute Döring

Kurt Drawert was born in 1956 outside East Berlin (Hennigsdorf). He studied at the Joachim R. Becher Institute for Literature in Leipzig. He is a member of the Free Academy of the Arts in Leipzig and P.E.N. Germany. He has received many of the most important literary awards, such as Ingeborg-Bachmann-Preis (1993) or the Leonce-und-Lena-Preis (1989), and has been invited to residencies, for example, in New York City, Istanbul, Bordeaux, Cracow, and Rome (Villa Massimo). His work is characterized by a keen analysis of the process of reunifying East and West Germany and is highly political and controversial in nature. His collected poems are titled »Idylle, rückwärts« (Munich, 2011).

Paul-Henri Campbell was born 1982 in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a bilingual poet of German and English. He studied Catholic Theology and Classical Greek at the National University of Ireland and the Goethe-University in Frankfurt am Main. He is the author of four volumes of poetry, including Space Race (Munich 2015) and Am Ende der Zeilen (Leipzig 2014).

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