Die Steine feinden
Fenster grinst Verrat
Berge Sträucher blättern raschlig
Stramm (1874–1915) died in Grodek, a location currently in the Ukraine that once belonged to the region of Galicia, and which was the site of a 1914 battle remembered in verse by Georg Trakl.
I remember being exposed to Stramm's verse back in college, when I took a sophomore year seminar on 20th-century poetry.
Regarding expressionist poetry, I'll re-quote from an essay on Teaching World War I Poetry: “Very short sentences are used, sometimes so terse and elliptical as to produce a blunt and jerky effect... it is clear that a definite attempt is being made to use the language in a new way.” (Bridgwater 1985, 38)
Along with Trakl, Georg Heym, and Jakob van Hoddis Stramm is one of those poets whose work is most often used in German schools and introductory university courses to illustrate Expressionism's encounter with modernism and war.
I took my light blue Sammlung Luchterhand edition of Gottfriend Benn's Statische Gedichte with me to the library today. The title means Static Poems.
Benn wrote about the title of the collection, which (see the inner cover of the book) he penned between 1937 and 1947: “Static is a concept, which not only speaks to my inner aesthetic and moral situation, but which also corresponds to the formal method of the poems. [...] This means a return to proportion and form, and it naturally also means a certain skepticism regarding development and it means resignation.”
The other day I dealt with the lovely short poem “Ein Wort,” which already had a translation available to me and isn't too difficult to translate on its own. Most of the other poems in this collection by Benn are a bit more difficult, due both to the precise rhyme and meter and to Benn's choice of words.
Before heading to the library I also took Wim Jansen's Beginner's Basque (New York: Hippocrene, 2002) from my shelf. My step-mother bought it for me when we visited the Basque museum in Boise a few summers ago.
It's an entertaining and informative read, but I really don't have time to devote to it at this point, so back to the shelf it goes.
As for Benn, he won't return immediately to the shelf, but it might take a while before his works appear again as part of GPotD.
Short reviews by others:
“'Happily N'Ever After' is to Pixar what color-by-numbers is to traditional Disney animation."
"The best way to age well is to have such great infrastructure that the years melt away everything but your handsome facial bones. That's Peter O'Toole in 'Venus.'"
Obligatory penis quote: “Penis-baring Ewan McGregor on how his most famous body part almost made it into 'Miss Potter': 'I did try to get it in the film. They said, "It's nice, Ewan, but we don't think it quite works with this movie." They tried animating it: Putting Peter Rabbit's face on it and making it speak to Beatrix, but they didn't think it was tasteful enough in the end.'”
This week in the A.V. club The Onion provides more Comics Of Note. The Two Faces Of Tomorrow and The Mourning Star are the most interesting looking of the bunch (though there is also W. Ellis's revival of the New Universe in New Universal and a collection of Runaways issues in trade paperback of which to take note). Regarding Runaways, apparently Joss Whedon is taking over ... I'll miss Brian K. Vaughan.
Early January does not seem to be the optimal time for fundies and evangelicals to come to campus, but today was their day outside the library and near State Street.
As I entered the building this afternoon across the way I spied a girl in black or brown dress wearing a white bonnet carrying some sort of bouquet in her hands as she attempted to draw the attention of passersby for a religious sermon or such. This evening brought a man with a sandwich board that proclaimed the only way to salvation is through our lord and savior what's-his-name.
The new semester will surely bring the the Gideons, little old men who will set up shop at the various intersections on campus along University Avenue and hand out pocket-size green New Testaments. The fire-and-brimstone crowd has gone home for the year.
Even with State Street close to deserted the panhandlers are still around, and I wonder whether they have unionized. It seems like a valid step. The cold weather usually drives them south for the winter but we're still in the mid-40s and only a long, hard freeze will do the job, I suspect.
The corner of State and Lake is generally not that problematic despite the mixed traffic, mainly buses and pedestrians. Today as I tried to cross (north end of the intersection) from the library one car decided to go north along Lake and a taxi wanted to turn from State north onto Lake. It's just driver stupidity. I let them stare each other down and come to a halt as I moseyed across the intersection. There's a clearly marked crosswalk and it's a 3-way stop, so there was really no excuse for either jumping into the intersection when a pedestrian (yours truly) was already there and walking.
Then again, this is the same street (State) that is clearly marked “for bikes, buses, taxis, delivery trucks, police, and emergency vehicles only” (I paraphrase), and yet from time to time cars ignore the obvious signs (that is, the big metal ones, as well as the clue type, such as no other cars on the street) and drive up and down it anyway.
I missed my fish fry today—I doubt Memorial Union was serving in any case—but just the thought of Friday fish led me to thoughts about the food and drink I enjoy in this city.
The ISTHMUS, a local weekly, published its annual manual in the fall, just in time for the return of students, and it lists the best places to eat, drink, buy food or booze, go out for music, etc. I cannot hope to compete, but I can list a few favorites downtown.
Ever since I lived on Gorham (the street that always makes me think of Gomorrah) I've been coming to Fair Trade Coffeehouse, and before that, in the late 90s, when I first started frequenting cafes and coffee shops in this town, Steep & Brew, which has a location on State Street. The former is friendly and casual, often busy except during the holidays, and home to great pastries, the source of which it shares with Michelangelo's several blocks closer to the capitol. Regarding the latter it's still the cozy, personal cafe of choice for cops, crazies, and professors and TAs holding office hours. Our LUG used to meet there. They have the best and most generous seasonal lattes and mochas as well as a great cinnamon orange spice tea (no sugar necessary). I've gone to Espresso Royale from time to time, but always find that I feel uncomfortable alone at the outlet closest to campus, though it's a nice place to go with friends. The one near the Orpheum is roomier and has comfier chairs. I find that I've been to Starbucks in this town a handful of times (once with LS, who needed a steamer, once to meet SB for a date, once to meet my brother and his girlfriend, and once post-burrito with colleagues when LS, girlfriend of the time, needed a coffee and cranberry cream cheese bar; a few days earlier we hit the one on University for coffee on our way to campus). This fall I became acquainted with the very hippy Mother Fool's, which is around the corner from me, and down the street from Ground Zero (it received post-9/11 hate mail from intelligence-impaired locals) and a newer place called Escape, which my brother loves. LS introduced me to Barriques, which has two locations, and mixes coffee and wine, and through a few colleagues I came to know the West Side and East Side branches of EVP, at the second of which I got a free Greenbush donut on Sunday the 24th when having coffee there with JA (last name likely a pseudonym of sorts). I've clearly put too much effort into thinking about coffee and tea, and where to drink them.
The downtown campus area lost its Pizza Hut in the late 90s; the location (next to Walgreens and Paul's Books) is now the alternative second-hand textbook shop. A few years later Burger King left its fly-infested location, which, after the building was torn down, now calls a bank home. A few weeks ago McDonald's closed shop, leaving Taco Bell and Subway as the only major fast-food chains on and around State Street. Down on Regent they still have a Taco Johns (I think and hope). But never fear, for when it comes to cheap comfort food State Street houses the Mediterranean Cafe (lamb & beef shawarma sandwich for $3.95, entrees usually $5.95), as well as dumplings at Pel Meni, and inexpensive East African lunch dishes at Baraka. Qdoba is not the only burrito joint around; there's also Chipotle, which I haven't visited.
A few years ago we lost the Chocolate Coyote, one of the better ice cream joints around. But we still have the Chocolate Shoppe, as well as more recent additions Cold Stone and a Ben & Jerry's, as well as a recently-arrived chain I haven't checked out, Paciugo.
Only theantix was kind enough to visit me in this city (years ago, mind you), but if any others are thinking of passing through, the above lists could serve as a starting point for Fish Fry alternatives.
Stramm's expressionist verse presents difficulties than do Benn's, for whereas Benn exploits formalism and structure, Stramm explodes typical syntax and word forms. Feind means enemy, but feinden as a verb is uncommon, although attested in the works of M. Luther and J. Böhme, for example. One could describe his use of natural elements as personification, except there is nothing person-like about them; this word has been used because in the poem objects do things (act like enemies, grin, choke, yelling) and there is no poetic self, no lyrical voice. I might have used betrayal rather than betray; in the German there are two nouns (window, betrayal) and a verb (grin), whereas Grimm's translation of the line could be parsed—in isolation—with betray as the verb and grins as a plural noun. Grimm also chose to go with -ing forms (participles [for use in an abbreviated present progressive, perhaps] or gerunds) whereas Stramm used third person plural present tense forms (würgen as choking rather than choke; blättern as leafing rather than leaf; gellen as yelling rather than yell).
The stones inimic
Window grins betray
Screeny bushes leafing rustly
—Translated by Reinhold Grimm
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