“Writing about poetry, I realize, is for me less a matter of grasping a totality than it is trying to articulate local pleasures or displeasures, coming to terms with my experiences of individual poems of books. It’s not mapping, but a species of fields notes, of local observations. Local observations and field notes can be used to support grander projects, more encompassing attempts to describe landscapes and terrains. […] But I’m content to let the pieces gathered here stand in their own particularity and localness.”
– Mark Scroggins
These words by a poet and critic I admire are, I find, an excellent summary of what this blog is about. I articulate my “coming to terms with my experiences of (…) books” elsewhere too, in German (auf Faustkultur) and English (for example for Review 31, or Strange Horizons or Full-Stop.), but this blog is the primary hub for my notes on reading and dealing with books and words and things.
As for me, I am Marcel Inhoff. I am a half-German, half-Russian academic and a poet – as of writing this introduction I have written countless papers for conferences, published several of them. i have published one collection of poetry in German and one chapbook in English. My poetry and prose, including a novel-in-process, draw on my heritage and intuitions of someone living and working between languages and cultures. They draw equally on my mental health struggles as someone who suffers from severe dysthymia and related issues.
As an academic, my focus is on autobiography, gender, and religion, specifically with a focus on American poetry, more exactly mid-century American poetry. I am completing a thesis on the way midcentury poetry interacts with nascent modern and postmodern ideas of autobiography.
But this blog (why’s it called Shigekuni anyway?) is not that – like Scroggins said: “I’m content to let the pieces gathered here stand in their own particularity and localness.” This has started as something else, but now primarily contains book reviews and very small personal essays And yet there are patterns – obviously. For one, the books I review here are overwhelmingly German or American – but I include a large amount of international books and books in translation. I have a weakness for big complicated books, though I also admire short complicated books. I have strong opinions on some awards – see my 2016 picks for the Nobel Prize in literature, or my summary of the annual Bachmannpreis. Over the past years of occasionally writing reviews, I have developed specific opinions on what good science fiction is, for example (Dark Matter is not it, for example). My interest in long and short books has changed. I’m sure there’s a larger pattern of pecularities here – but what it is all connected through is my personal obsession with literature (are you interested in my personal canon?). I live with and among books. I don’t know if I am more writer than reader or vice versa. This blog is…well, I just can’t help it.
You can contact me at shigekuniblog (at) rocketmail (dot) com
If you want to support my work or my blog in doing so, you could click on the paypal “Donate” button, which you can find in the column on the left of this blog. My paypal ID is i_marcel(at)web.de. I am deeply thankful for everybody who has so far decided to help.
I will read anything provided it has a nice cover and is not written by Paolo Coelho or Terry Goodkind. I like poetry mostly because it appeals to my short attention span. I also watch an insane amount of TV. I listen to music, because I have no talent in making it, but I paints pictures although I don’t have any talent for it. Honestly, I love a good party, too. I loathe bad parties and will leave a punitive Coelho in your apartment if you invite me to one.
The bottom line is that I plain love books and I use this blog to engage with my obsessions and interests. I can’t review everything so here’s my reminder for you to read more Jean Rhys, Arno Schmidt, Ingeborg Bachmann, Julián Ríos, William Gaddis, and Uwe Johnson. And for the love of God please read more poetry.