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Poetry: Nora Bossong

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Nora Bossong is one of Germanyís finest young poets and authors. She is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, and her second poetry collection, Sommer vor den Mauern, was awarded the prestigious Peter Huchel prize this year. The jury praised Bossong for the versatility of her language and form, the range of genres that her writing encompasses, and the creative tension between emotion and intellect in her poems. Based in Berlin, Bossong is a regular performer at the cityís Literaturwerkstatt (see NBG-Feature). These poems, from her collection Reglose Jagd (2007), were translated by Donna Stonecipher and first published on the exceptional international poetry site lyrikline.org.
 
 
Motionless Hunt
 
The stables down from the slope, they say
that a marten or a fox got the rabbit, no one
is sure, itís rare that anyone stays here
at night. The house too large
for a house, the people too rich,
not of my time. But still we go
hunting together, through the overgrown
edges of the family estate, no animals
crack twigs in the undergrowth, no cadaver
leaves its smell like a spooky ancestor
on the boundaries of the grounds. I believe that
the terrace
hides everything, no one
is following me, and why should they, my days
lie elsewhere. Only the white-tailed eagles on the poles
donít let me out of their sight, I feel
their sharp eyes staring at my nape,
until I stumble, but that is immaterial, just
a short-term alteration of the old edifice.
 
 
Location
 
We live in a city without a river, there are
borders here made only of wind
or rainshowers. At night
this frightens my sister, but in our house
there is no weeping, perhaps
it would help her, perhaps it would drive her
over the edge. It is frosty
in her voice. If distances could be described
without rivers, at least the ideas
would be sustainable: No one
comes near our house and we havenít
seen our parents for years.
But there is no rest, this city is
like remaindered snow in March. Only the wind,
which drives the rain into its shape,
hints at a city limit. Our house remains
locked in ice and vanished.
 
 
Antlers
 
The game is called off. How can we
still believe in fairy tales? The branches
no longer shiver at night, no wild game
trundles through the woods and the thunderstorm
dissolves into clouds of flies. Nevertheless,
it holds fast: The itching under our feet
is not fir vestiges, not nettle leaf, we still follow
the rule of three, the seven mountains and
the fawn Little Brother and his beloved.
Tell me about the antlers on the wall, tell me
needles in the flies. At the right moment
we forgot to stumble.
Snow White is asleep.
 
 
Pied Piper
 
I met two boys
under the arch of the bridge at night
who peed on the pillars and
said that they were seven
said that they were lice-infested.
They laughed at me when I
believed it. Nothing to gain but
lice, the smaller one revealed.
He pointed to the bushes and stepped
on my instep. I would have loved
to fall in love with him, nothing else
that night was to be had
so cheaply. The bigger one asked me if
it were true
that even animals cannot
die alone. It was much too late
for boys to be out under that bridge.
 
 
Goatsuckers
 
Dogs trotted through the streets, betimes
goats were conjured up, thrice
we looked for black cats, at least
the cobblestones could serve as substitutes
for mountains. We listened for hoofbeats
behind the windows,
the nightjars flew down deep and someone said
they were called goatsuckers. It smelled
like the fly in the ointment as the goats occupied
the city. They ate leaves, feathers,
dog bones. It was autumn since the goats
started mating in front of our house. And the cats
forgotten, and the nightjars deep. It was
only an old wivesí tale, that these birds
nursed at the teats of goats. The magic tricks
just a bad joke, and the world
burst in the goatís bellies.
They continued to give milk for three days,
then they were dead.
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Nora Bossong
was born in Bremen in 1982. She studied Philosophy and Comparative Literature in Berlin and Rome, and attended the German Literature Institute in Leipzig. Bossong has published two novels, Gegend (2006) and Webers Protokol (2009) and was awarded the Peter Huchel prize for her most recent volume of poetry, Sommer vor den Mauern (Hanser).
 
 
Donna Stonecipher is the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Cosmopolitan (winner of the National Poetry Series, Coffee House Press, 2008). Her translation of Ludwig Hohlís Bergfahrt will be published by Black Square Editions in 2012. She also translates from French.
 
 

 
All translations by Donna Stonecipher, first published on lyrikline.org.
The original poems were published in:
Nora Bossong, Reglose Nacht, ed. by Heinz Kattner, 2007, zu Klampen Verlag, Springe. Titles: Reglose Jagd, Standort, Geweihe, Rattenfänger, Ziegenmelker
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