During The Writer’s Blog Tour I mentioned a little German book I was working on – Das Innenfutter der Wörter. Although these news are already old news, I still wanted to share what I never thought was possible. After ten years in the US, my German had turned so rusty that it was crumbly and filled with potholes. Writing was even more difficult than speaking, and a simple email would often open up this deep crevasse of insecurities.
I worked hard to regain my confidence with the language that was after all my first language and did so by working as a teacher of German. Yes, I was standing in classrooms full of Syrians, Afghans, Hungarians, Serbs, and Romanians who were eager to learn this language with its labyrinth grammar. Unfortunately, I did not know the way out myself. I came to the conclusion that it would take time, in fact almost two years before I could write a German poem that did not sound as if a child had written it.
Thanks to the editorial help and encouraging words of a friend and colleague of mine, Helwig Brunner, who himself is a poet and has published many books, I was able to publish my first collection of German poems with edition keiper in Graz, Austria last spring. Many of these poem had been written in Vienna during my Fulbright, and having these poems appear with edition keiper in picturesque Graz was very fitting. The title “Das Innenfutter der Wörter” (transl. The Lining of Words) was inspired by Paul Celan and his methods of dissecting and transplanting words. Language is organic, always crumbling, growing, and evolving into something new, something I attempted to put into images. If you are interested in this sort of thing, the German language and in particular poetry, you can order the book here.