30 May 2010

"songs and poems - or sentences, as i call them" (m. donhauser)

last night i attended a great poetry reading at the literaturhaus berlin, the highlight of which was a reading by oswald egger, the first-ever winner of the recently awarded oskar pastior prize. that prize is a cool prize for two reasons: 1) in his lifetime, oskar pastior saved every penny for a foundation that was meant to financially support 2) experimental, innovative poets. oswald easily lived up to this criterion, as what he read fortright sounded like sylvia plath on LSD: "Ich igelte mich ein wie ein Iltisknauf", "so schopf-, so schädelblanke Felsen", "Ich sah durch die Toten nur Sonne und Knochen, nichts sonst". while oswald's imagery was richer than anything else i had heard in a long time, and while his recital was fantastic, i thought he did miss a timely ending. our minds spun in spite of his (sometimes probably unintendedly) humorous passages, so that following his verbal detours became increasingly difficult.

michael donhauser, who was second to read, had a better gut feeling there. his reading was to the point and sincere. like last time at the lyrikerempfang, it seemed he had dislocated the alphabet in order for it to become landscapes that recall own memories. (work sample.) 

franz josef czernin, who had been the first poet to read, struggled with turning the old idea of the four elements (that he chose to wrap in the old corset of the sonnet) into something modern. a highlight: "Mein Schauen ging (...) nicht verloren." thereafter, he presented his edits of three more poems in a slide show. this was very interesting to see at first, but i found that the novelty of the idea wore off quickly - probably because he had up to fifty slides to show for each poem; or maybe because he flicked through them so fast that even when you wanted to follow his wordplay, you couldn't.

my overall verdict: a worthwile, interesting reading.

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