under online drums
in the heat of the bits,
always a ringing in the ears,
more zero than one,
plug in the socket,
through the night, day in,
day out, night failure,
Dead zone of the electrons.
Leave the cables where they are,
marvel at the video card of the world,
pull the plug of the scribbling,
brake the text messaging,
no yes and no, no veneer,
it’s fine to be
in der Hitze der Bits,
stets ein Klingeln in den Ohren,
mehr null als eins
bis zum Eins-eins-null,
Stecker in der Dose,
die Nacht durch, tagaus,
Funkloch der Elektronen.
Lass’ die Kabel liegen,
bestaune die Grafikkarte der Welt,
zieh’ dem Geschreibsel den Stöpsel,
bremse das Gesimse,
kein Jein, kein Schein, pikfein
I love sound poetry and I believe in the musicality of the written word—which is language-specific to a large extent, certainly if it’s connected with a specific sense or content. Once a translator, a nice old lady, wanted to translate one of my poems. I considered it untranslatable myself. I told her that and she was a little offended because she thought I was questioning her abilities. Later, she admitted I was right. Then another translator said my poems were untranslatable. That didn’t surprise me but I became upset because that meant I could not be part of an interesting project for a second time.
I started translating my poems myself. A large part of my poetry is so language-specific that I am the only one who actually has the freedom to “translate” it, which in my case means writing something similar in another language most of the times. To give an example, here’s a little excerpt of “Underpass”, one of my untranslatable poems: “Unnumbered undertones, unbarred unconsciousness, / underachievers, unfertilized unless / under umbrellas, uprising unknowingly, / underpass underdogs unfold unguardedly” (published in “Borderlands. Texas Poetry Review”, 39, 2013). There is a German two-egged twin of this poem with a very similar subject and a very similar atmosphere, but it’s not a translation actually. E.g., almost all of the words are different and the English poem is a little more optimistic.
The poem you will find on these pages is actually an example of my translatable poetry. To translate this one was comparably easy, the German predecessor is written in an unbound language, no metre, no strong sound elements stand between it and its translation. So this one could have been translated by a “real translator.” But once I started to translate my own poems, I continued to do so. I discovered it’s a good opportunity to actively use the English language. It refines my senses for poetry in all its forms in both languages. Moreover, I really have the last word regarding the results without annoying anyone and I have the opportunity to only hand out what I can sign with my name.
However, there also is a disadvantage: while my English becomes better with every poem and my “lectors” find less and less faults, it is still a foreign language to me. Thus, I have to give all of my poems to English native speakers, sometimes more than once because they discover faults or passages that do not really work, then I correct them and after that, I have to give the new version to another native speaker (I could give it to the same person again, I basically do that so share the burden). The poem you will find on these pages has been proofread by Harold Nash, the comment you are reading right now has been proofread by Lawrence Nicholas. Many thanks to both of them.