Insta-Shig

If you don’t know, I have an Instagram account (@trollsandogres) and you’re invited to follow. These are apparently my nine most popular posts of the past year.

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#GermanLitMonth

This year I participated in Lizzy Siddal‘s #GermanLitMonth

Somehow I mostly ended up reviewing untranslated books. Here they are:

There’s everything in there: positive reviews, negative reviews, science fiction, poetry and autobiographically inspired novels.

Blog Recommendation!

I don’t do this a lot, so you know this has weight. One of my favorite people in the world, poet and writer Steven Rineer, has a new blog. He has had difficulties publishing his poetry, but he’s one of two largely unpublished poets I have admired for years. And not because we are friends, but because I find his work extraordinary and it pushes me to get better at my own writing. So now he has a blog. You can find it under http://stevenrineer.com. Don’t mind the large banner. I have had the pleasure of visiting California 6 or 7 years ago and Steven hosted me. He is a brilliant reader, and a brilliant writer. TRUST ME ON THIS. On some level, I owe my life to that man. Go follow the dang blog. His first post is up, it’s called “On Being Sick, Astral Weeks, and Sometimes Getting Through.” Click on the link! Do you like it? Tell me! Tell him. He’s a light in this world, a weird, gentle, awesome light.

über das ertrinken

ein flirren im hinterkopf und ein gefühl des ertrinkens unter der schädeldecke. irgendwas jährt sich immer und man geht klirrend zu bett. ich habe in den letzten zwölf jahren neben einem klumpen uranglas geschlafen und vielleich wächst mir deshalb ein zweites leben. man sitzt im november neben einem kaffee, einem knäckebrot und zwölf ungelesenen manuskripten. ich zähle: eins zwei drei usw. ich zähle auf deutsch sonst denke ich überraschend wenig auf deutsch oft denke ich auf english ich denke in sätzen, in satz- und gedichtanfängen vielmehr. manchmal rede ich auf russisch mit mir. ich kann keine filme über seeunglücke sehen. vor nichts habe ich soviel angst wie vor dem ertrinken und dann sitzt man im november hier und fühlt wie sich der schädel füllt und alles wegschwemmt alle sätze mit punkt komma usw. es bleibt nur ein flirren. ich sitze im ungefähr, und denke in keiner sprache. überhaupt, was denken. ich have angst vor dem tod. so weit ist es schon gekommen.

Sometimes I don’t write

when I remember there’s no point and the creases in my legs and my effluvious clothes and the years of carrying around this heavy body with me and thousands of poems I’ve written so fucking much can you believe that and I carry all of it with me and on me and at my age eventually I’ll get trouble with my knees that’s what my mother says and she should know. My grandmother visits the cemetery once a week, even though they removed my great grandfather’s grave, there’s a gap now, with freshly sown grass, though it is brown now, nothing grows in autumn except death. That isn’t a good phrase, I should strike it, but I carry that with me, with my body and my hair and the half-dozen fragmented languages in my head. Sometimes I don’t write and I step out of the house and walk until my knees hurt I live in a small city surrounded by wood and thousands of poems that I wrote at some point not to mention all the fucking short stories. Sometimes I stand in a park God knows there’s enough parks here and there’s a conspicuous gap between trees, you count them, one, two, three, four, and then nothing for a bit, and then you sort of have to start at one again. I didn’t use to think much of that, but my grandmother looks at a rectangle of grass once a week, and in that gap she sees her family buried, they have all been buried there for generations and she is the last to live in that village, she won’t be buried in the family crypt and I am sitting here with a black notebook like the fucking hipster I am and want to write, but sometimes I just don’t write because there’s no point. There are things to do, there must be things to do with my hands or my feet or some other part of this enormous odorous physical burden, but I don’t know what, so I write something, and often that is a poem and it adds to what I carry around with me even though there’s no point and really I shouldn’t write but then I settle into my folds and there’s a faint smell of soft rotting oranges even when it’s cold or when the rain swallows all odors, and I just write and revise and rewrite and eventually, I mean, can you fucking believe it?

On Fate

My sister just asked me whether I believed in fate. She is afraid of flying and about to fly to Asia, her heart in her pocket and her fears in her throat. It is an odd question. She asked whether I believed in all choices leading to the same result and I said I believe in nothing. I barely believe in the floor bearing my weight as I get out of bed. I am never more cartesian as when I find myself under the blankets in the morning with a whole day, or whatever is left of it spreading out ahead of me, fanned out like carpet samples. These past weeks I have found myself tortured by the question of who I am. So now I am asked about fate. It is the wrong day to ask me. I am tempted to make some joke. I cycle through possible puns. Schicksal. Schocksal. Schmocksal. Scheusal. I improvise a poem. My sister gets impatient. Do you believe in fate? Would I have met the man of my dreams, she asks, had I not taken this class or that, had I remained friends with this friend or that? Would I now stare down the barrel of this flight, or this sickness or the implacable drumbeat of loneliness at this stage of my life, she prods me, unhappy with my silence on the other end of the line. Would I have always become who i am? I cannot answer this question. We are who we are. Beloved sister, I am who I am, and contemplating other paths will not help me continue breathing, will not help me look at daylight with a welcoming frown. I have nothing, I am barely anything, but this is who, where, how I am. Could my life have taken a different turn? I have to look at all the turns and choices in my life and for everything that went wrong, other things went well. Going down a different path, I would not be me – and more importantly, you would not be you, I told my sister, as we both slowly slipped into a tub of pathos and obviousness. Pathos is thick like molasses, but it smells like that milk in the fridge that could be off, but you’re not entirely sure, so you’re sitting on the kitchen floor, smelling the milk, contemplating trying it, but what if it is truly, terribly spoiled and nobody wants to start their day drinking spoiled milk on the kitchen floor especially if you’re busy pretending the afternoon sun is really the morning sun, I mean unless I look at the clock nobody knows, that’s how that Heisenberg theory goes, right, and so you put the milk back in the fridge because you’re not that thirsty anyway and life is full of choices and that should answer your question. What was it again?