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a quiet murmuring that occurs parallel to the events of the outside world. ‘My first plaits were the hair of fairy tales. I was not yet brunette and thought in blond’.

In my prose I have repeatedly written about encounters, unplanned and unexpected ones that change the lives of the persons concerned. Encounter and seduction. For a short time everything is possible, biographies are at one’s disposal. Distances, words or whole sentences thrown out like bait that can reduce those distances in a moment and creat a closeness that may be taken seriously as an experiment. They told each other their signs of the zodiac. First shortcuts, first aberrations.

Sometimes I use English words in my German poems when I am in need of a rhyme. Words fall in love with each other. I like to address a beloved person: ‘I love each and every finger on your hand’. – ‘Now we know one another / by our underarms where our skin is not ashamed.’ – Or the male town of St Petersburg. ‘Always telling each other life stories – right? Asking: ‘When will it be the Tuesday after winter?’ And it is thrilling to lend my voice to a high-pressure front called Leo who is pleading to an Atlantic depression called Helène, ‘I wanted you to see the town Tarifa’.


There has always been some pressure on artists to declare themselves – what about politics? I ask myself what that means for politics and imagination. In principle I do not think that the arts – any art – should feel obliged to demonstrate political engagement. In principle art and politics are two very different spheres, and it isn’t the task of politics, or a social environment, or society itself, to put pressure on the Arts. Art is per se different from the social world, and one needn’t evoke l’art pour l’art for this. No rules, no commands. I may talk about trees as long as I like. The free Western World or what may have remained of it by the time this book will be published allows us a privilege that not many countries enjoy. We can speak out for our political agenda without being tortured or killed. This can change almost overnight.


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