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Poetry

Ann Cotten

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Ann Cotten was born in the United States but emigrated to Vienna with her parents at the age of five. She writes in both English and German, translating her German poetry into English and vice versa. She is thus not only one of the most exciting young poets writing in German, but also an NBG writer par excellence Ė spanning the gap between the two literatures. The bilingual poems Ďde atra bileí particularly reflect this bridging, generated at the point of encounter between the two languages.
 
 
 
Write no more. As the writing clatters
as it weighs heavy in the ties.
Exhausting looks and lies,
i t lies and looks,
 
uncommittal, annoying, expectant,
at the wall: I would be there
at the floor: Why am I not dancing?
at the mind, with a derisory sigh.
 
 
 
DE ATRA BILE
(OF BLACK BILE)


Eine schreckliche Klaue hat mich
it lives in the photograph wall
donít ask me what it is I donít
know but that it is
atrum a black device
there is less vocabulary
am Rand von Zigaretten
nice only terrible anymore
the hoof at the temple
the edge of something weniger
than was ich je gewesen
over forward when I close them
a key to what I donít
want to know um vier Uhr früh in einem dunklen Regen
rests of it loiter around in the sky
and the children laugh the leaves flat
I donít believe nature not a word
puhle den Dreck von den cobblestones
regne terrible pure dread of my two
rooms since my nails all many of them
lost and swollen with whiteish crustitudes are
turned to screws in incomprehensible night
 
DE ATRA BILE

A terrible claw has hit me
es wohnt in der fototapete
frag mich nicht I donít know
what it is aber es ist
atrum ein schwarzes gerät
es gibt weniger vokabel
at the edge of cigarettes
nett nur mehr furchtbar
war der huf an der schläfe
die kante von etwas less
denn what Iíve ever been
vornüber wenn ich sie zumache
ein schlüssel zu was ich nicht
wissen will at four at night in a dark rain
lümmeln morgens reste davon am himmel
und lachen die kinder die blätter platt
ich glaub der natur kein einziges wort
grab the grit from the pflastersteine
regne terrible pures entsetzen meiner beiden
zimmer seit meine nägel alle sämtlichen
verschollen aufgequollen mit weißlichem aufschlag sind
zu schrauben geworden in unverständlicher nacht
 
 
 
FEELING THE UNIVERSE / DIALLING

weigh (tch, tch) and nod and (tch)
so (tch) on, no? (tch, tch, tch) just like
me (tch) and you and the (tch, tch) of the (tch)
the street and (tch) garbage disposal, refrigerator
(tch, tch, tch, tch) and whatever makes noise
(tch, tch, tch, tch) and beer (tch) we too
(tch, tch, tch, tch) syntactically, Syntax, very be
(tch)fuddled (tch) and I (tch) lose myself,
who (tch) belonged, eh? (tch) heard (tch
tch, tch, tch, tch) her writing was (tch) like me (tch)?!

glad it is over (tch, tch, tch, tch)
 
 
 
SELF-ESTEEM

The Oil must leak.
The tongue must toil.
Man must use
both tongue and oil.
 
The man licks the donor,
the tongue licks the oil.
The oil invents
a concept of honor.
 
 
 
SOLIDUS

The one in the corner / the woofs and the breezes / the noses / the goading / the needs and the freezes / the iconoclastics / the jeopards / the beatniks / the coat-hanger lovers / the moated / the stupid / the notes / the convening / the look in the breezes / the mold in the joisted / the folding / the deuces / the goofed in their preening / the carried-on flaskers / the bolshevik presses / the stewards in dresses / their drunken careening / the happy noblesse / the topheavy jinx when the blasted infer / the journal of sleeping / the doping caresses / the chafing / the coaster / the surf / oh the chaste / so moulded and leering / as ghastly and weaning / the case of the groping / the foible / the sigh

the lope of the egret / the notice on joking / for fondling the fondness / and softly / the ghostess / as probing / to jeeter / magnificent lacing / the faces of mankind / the faces of men / the wasteland / too gently / the brazen of ribbon / the gibbering / tasteless / forever asway / no good for tomorrow / the politicksí reason / the treason / the pillow / as hoping / and gutter / as rain for the pining / as rain in the window / and shaping / and guises / and minors / then shallow / and fish in the distance / and ropes in the skyline / and silhouettes finding / a bluebox / for lining / a biting / for guests / and a longing for shame / and all they put up with / for gazing / for sighing/ is genomes / and corny / like James in the slough / ricochet / and flaming / the kelp and / a sigh

but for all they throw up with / whatever they do / the venomous / generous / help us to jest / and caress our pathetics / in boast and in leads / and the rotary spitters / the fountains in spite / the incredulous soapists / the sailors in true / make living / forsaken / and signs for the printing / the pining / the nooses / the knowing / in ruses / the ones in the living room / twice in the living room / thrice in the living room / mice in the living room / nice in the living room / know what to do
 
 
 
© The German poem Ďde atra bileí was published in the volume Florida-Räume (Suhrkamp, 2010)

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© Suhrkamp Verlag
Ann Cotten
was born in 1982 in Iowa, but moved to Vienna with her parents in 1987. She studied German literature and now lives between Vienna and Berlin. Cotten has published several volumes of poetry in both German and English, and has been awarded numerous prizes. Her most recent publication in German is Florida-Räume (Suhrkamp, 2010).
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