traditional forms. These collections progressively loosen the ties of convention, following instead ‘long years of that tiny private picking’ (‘Vita Poetica’) and pursuing a more singular inward path. The 2014 collection, verlangsamte raserei, for example, consists of cycles of strictly rhythmic poems without rhymes that rely heavily on line breaks and work with often surreal neologisms and playful sound patterns. What is more, they consistently reject the traditional upper-case of German grammatical usage and do away with almost all punctuation. All these things give a new lightness of touch, intensity and freedom to the language. The abolition of grammatical hierarchies also brings an increased ambiguity as lines can be read as connecting forwards or backwards at the same time.
The themes that she returns to are love, memory, landscape and art. Love is the central animating force of Schlag’s poetic (and novelistic) world. It appears in all sorts of familiar guises from the charge of the random erotic encounter – ‘once I would have said very forbidden things’ (‘Passenger’) – to the intimacy and ordinariness of everyday loving:
Then you embrace me hardly leaving room for rosemary or bag. Your face reveals a sudden flash of how oblique the day is: slanted like a flight of steps into the sideheart of the city.
Some of the most touching poems included here are those about marital love in old age.
But, in the spirit of her 2016 novel Architektur einer Liebe (An Architecture of Love), the poems do not simply thematise love but also try to echo the shapes we make as we inhabit these various relationships, as ‘we search for a new contour’ (‘Hesitant Prospect’).
As in previous collections, childhood memories loom large: sometimes, as in the sequence ‘Plaits’, also as a way of exploring larger historical events, when the fairy-tale tones of childhood