- Germany -
Daniela Seel, born 1974 in Frankfurt/Main, is a poet, translator, editor and publisher of kookbooks ‒ Lab for Poetry as Life Form. She frequently performs internationally and in collaboration with, among others, illustrator Andreas Töpfer, filmmaker Mathilde Bonnefoy, musician PLANNINGTOROCK, dancer David Bloom, and poet SJ Fowler. She published two volumes of poetry, ich kann diese stelle nicht wiederfinden (I Cannot Find That Place Again), 2011, and was weißt du schon von prärie (What Do You Know About Prairie Actually), 2015, as well as, together with Frank Kasper, the radio feature was weißt du schon von prärie (What Do You Know About Prairie Actually), SWR/DLF 2015. For her work she received numerous grants and awards, e.g. the Art Prize Literature by Lotto Brandenburg, the Friedrich Hölderlin Sponsorship Award by the City of Bad Homburg, two working grants by the City of Berlin, a Villa Aurora Fellowship, Los Angeles/CA, and the Reykjavík Residency Grant by the Goethe-Institute Copenhagen. Some of her poems have been translated into Polish, English, Slovak, Czech, French, Norwegian, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Serbian, Croatian, and Slovenian. Daniela Seel lives in Berlin.
SAGA / SAGA
Weather Reports You
Will, if I reach out my hand, the sea come to me, a stone?
Harsh grace in a dorsal line aligns me without being arbitrary, thus I am here.
And with me a vertigo of emptiness, of a world, that takes nothing back.
To interrupt this feeling.
When I say emptiness, do I mean more than empty of humans?
Intoning apocalypse with bread soup, or love, coincidence, cliché.
Why should I want to be in the picture anyway?
I have to look at the weather. Its disheveling crosscurrent.
All emotions are true.
Everyone here came over water.
Like them I will feel hunger. Dark, desert. Touching.
The sunken forest beneath Cardigan Bay that I looked at from Ty Newydd without seeing it.
What does Hecla have to do with it, Katla, Laki, the island’s mountain’s glacier?
Or droughts in Egypt, the French Revolution.
I don’t mean this monocausally.
I came through safe third countries, spores on my shoe.
I’m counting on consequences.
Like continents ripping bit by bit and grinding sight in raining ash.
On the green of 600 species of moss.
Entries of the brightest finitude.
Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir, granddaughter of a British slave, traveled, around the year 1000, from Norway to Iceland, Greenland, Vinland, Greenland, Norway, Iceland, Rome, Iceland.
Where she came upon human settlements all over and bore the first European child on American soil, Snorri Thorfinnson.
Which is further than Leifur Eriksson, who for some time was her brother-in-law.
But hardly further than 500 years later, Enrique Melaka, Malayan slave and translator in the fleet of Magellan.
No survival without navigation.
No navigation without turnover of bodies into labor, goods, silence, missions, capital.
Botany also calls moss a pioneer plant.
It says pioneers need dozens of years to grow on fresh lava.
No habitat where water can’t flow, soak.
And another dozen after being uprooted from trampling and grazing.
Meanwhile, transported Alaskan lupines are to form sediments on deserts left by man, cattle, climate.
Degrees of degradation. Sense of possibility.
To briefly find balances in the pull of need and erosion.
Where something gains contours through recess.
I don’t mean this as metaphor.
I mean the kind of fiction that emerges from fact.
Translating my actions into selection.
Dreamt of subjection again.
Moments full of inertia.
Where’s all this water from?
Fog, foam, clouds, firn, ice, rain, snow –
To enter their density.
That is empty. Endless vacillation within.
Drills me in positioning.
Hypersensitive. Not sensitive enough.
Do birds dream of shores? Or of their flight over oceans?
Ravens climb from my hand.
Their eyes, more than mine, see lands beyond the sea.Translation by Shane Anderson
BROOCHES / FIBELN
To read without soul what’s ascending, the labor is barely recognizable in the thing.
Seven layers of color on the bedroom door alone.
Decades painted in flatness, or button rows.
Due of no justice.
To stay here further by virtue of labor, spreading.
What one spends in alienation.
Can deviation be simulated or avoided, how does something equal itself?
Something like food stamps, in the name of the people, gladiola, ravioli.
Those set over chasms, more than a fathom deep.
As if beauty were but the mistake in a copy.
Like a knob airily springs.
If I just keep living like this, how close will I come to war?
Brightness becomes tempered by emptiness, duty.
Is revolt on, sick with rage, when sick is a pigeonhole?
The ice sheet melts and drowns, even in winter,
and yes it is winter.
Fingering brooches from index strata, binding co-presence through time.
Limes, Lindisfarne, Kiev – the Rus rows in cartography.
Where does the Roman Empire end?
The Roman Empire never ends.
The silence stuttered from crickets, escaped its calling thus?
That cane brakes –
Rage about, knee-high heroic.
To the crops with tenderness full.
Did obstinacy prove to the unyielding?
Governs thunder, it darkens.
Kit. Wrought upon. – No.
Is everland still dozing by? Renounce.
From realms of soil, eons –
insprinc haftbandun, infar wîgandun –
Glottis is not asleep, whistles.Translated by Shane Anderson
AURORA / AURORA
Everyone will remember differently. Forming sequences, speak
openly, please: domesticating. What I am unable to shake
inverts. Like splitting kindling becomes routine. Like pine sap smells
when it catches fire, burns. Tree-high trim and panniers,
a wooden frame full of pears, connected by cables,
generating charges. Intervals of greenish light. Should
someone be shot, for security reasons? How do you feel?
For the longest time I thought wolfs only exist in films still,
or in the zoo. As if history imagined became erosion, that is
loss instead of editing. Initially the protocol differentiates between
amplitudes according to type and weight.Tthey appear to be
montaged together. Their echo allows for details to separate. As if
one drew halos, courts to capture the heights of their unlikelihood,
counterintuitive. And then fed them back in, in variants and
knots. Like with dough, you only have to knead long enough,
to take the air out, the tears. Everything, that doesn’t work.
Hindering impulses before they manifest. Always more complex,
the layers, or developments through silence. As if I could invent
operations, by inhibiting them. Cut. Cut. Melting into the floor
and back out again, hips gyrating, carving the air with the hands,
off the cuff into the stomach. For desire for lard, for loading
foam cushioned drawers, glasses full of fly cadavers that I
collect underneath closed windows. When you came in, did you
feel the need to leave your shoes at the entrance. For protection, or
to reward your presence with comfort. That I want routines creates
no duration, a single butterfly can perforate the line perfectly.
Like axe swings, sawing, their howling and cooing, in fog.
One of these days, we went for a walk. Ran along a forest
path, in thought, coniferous forest, boreal, while I inside the
studio sat. Recording the sounds directly from the floor, with my feet.
Cluster of consonants, transmitted through vibration. All the way
to Chugach, Alaska. I only had to tie knots so that they became mobiles,
journeys of the greatest possible non-simultaneity. For the sounds
without meaning to register, remaining in their presence through
gesturing, give us awhile. Even this room is accrued through use.
Lucid instances, that mountains chat, that earth, in fur
ruffling feathers, lighter as the periphery. Whoever remains, must
spread the white. Settle cadences in the tumult of the air.
As if the tones touched physically, and they do. Permeable
like the night is. Organic evidence. The plane handle is missing.
Tender universe, more volatile than. Their barely articulated tips,
material in general. I hung up the doors. When I speak
of length, there will be, category mistake, no time after this.
How displaced are the proportions, a chalk stroke, isolates.
The pears blink methodically, Aurora, their whimpering
through plasterboard, diffuses. Should I want to come back, I would
bring you something. Sagas of ghosts that avoid bridges,
and a shield, under which you can hear glaciers melt. Their
crackling, fizzling, gurgling and squeezing. The cables grow
up through the roof. Dispositions, if circulations close, with
the flow. And what did you make of it? I would like to summarize
in a thesis: The greater the immanence, the more that adheres.Translation by Catherine Hales
TERRITORIES, FLICKERING / TERRITORIEN, FLIMMERN
To talk to walls, setting relations. The tongue wants to lick incessantly. Several ends. Prying out of architectures, I-territories, flickering. I want. I promise. Everywhere interventions, everywhere voices. In between aerials hum, tips sensing, rules can be found. Things pinned into trays. One is called Now I’m Talking. Another The Silence Before, which is none. The truth is I was never without papers. I can determine positions with my tongue. Motifs, their contours blurring, do they produce too little rage.
Body parts pressed against panes. I imitate their positions. The Position Of Impossible Beauty. The Position Of Supple Failure. The Position Without Representation. Profit examines loss. I could write it off. Another side of time. Where eating implies some kind of merging, elusive, what are you afraid of. Branches contesting the sky, clouds, mark up above, summers. Semiosis and bird migration. Drumming. Where above begins, inside. It is the fingers. They wipe light, the wide silence. When the tongue pokes too far out of the mouth, speaking is hard. I lay similarity on the table. Yet another side of time. No answer.
Expanding out from the ears, nestling, there, against glacial meadows, checking oily pistils for the sun’s position, traps for, where they hatch, insects, the tongue wants to lick incessantly. Halves hanging from hooks, on brackets, swinging through shadows, which wander, halves of what. Do I pull back. Air filters in, sketches lungs, softer architectures, imbalances ruffle up. This is not an exercise, this is breath factory. I was born, I stick my tongue through a wall, signal world, forces. Aromas spread slowly, contradictions, smears, on carrying systems, crockery. As though form were supposed to dispose over interest. Fixings, drift. “In a brothel, everything is much more open. There are no lies and no illusions there.” Claws echoing pads, roughened places in the firn ice. Goblin tells fibs, the fox has fetched it. Voices combing through woods, resisting, recoil.
And pigeons. Their love on ridges. Drawn up against the sky Aurora, the goblin bonnet. As the earth’s shadow declines the moon, so the flakes find me. Ensnared, entwined, into guarding. Hardly miserly slapping of gums. The sail, I live, though geographically. When is it warm enough in a nest? Grasping the angle of tilt from the sledge. Precipitous volcanic swathe, I praise it, roofing felt topology. But nobody is supposed to see my nipples, nobody, so the perspectives gleam. Crazily circling seduction, of course I look up. Panorama bower. It’s raining rabbits by the spoonful. Familiar spirits, you make me shudder. To grasp the leaving just once. The packer-hatch. Which fall, keep falling towards the mouth. And melt away. First instance. If grass covers itself with dew, goblin’s earth hair, I don’t give a damn.
Ordered a thing that won’t be repaired, by me, these things come to pass. Which continues to be a problem of time. For after all I am moving towards it. I’m passing. It in evading, exposure, to care. Am I hegemonic? I look just lightly past it. Hardly more difficult to appropriate refusal from denial. Attia writes of endless repair. Shelves, brackets, depots, chests. What would be repaired there? Someone’s desire to be recognised, surrounded by the hand of attention? I am here too and I harbour anger. Have paste, canisters, sinister registers, needle and thread, face made of buttons and stitches, eat me. I resign. Arriving in wide spaces. In the small things. Please excuse me. I see they are no longer. I mean the mustangs, their meandering. A word like pride. Go onwards, in doubt. The hand strokes the saddle, ready to fight. A textbook sentence. Dominance values, patchworks, underbrush, paths. I watch it go. Shy similes. Chase.
Then this, the leaf-shaped interruption. Alienated from contemplation. And crossing the dip back-to-back, on tortoise feet. So do they ride, the wise old ones? Offshore habituation, waves break and inherit a beach. A whirring as if from projectors. I mean it seriously right up to the point where you come to meet me. Beneath syncopated blankets, hovering. But the ancillary noises, the little teeth. Their terrible growling over rust-red, swirling fields. Still a day’s march to the base camp. Through seas of cotton grass, sandy outwash and obsidian, just stumbling into dying. Remains of installations. Resistance sparking across borders of data reception. So nobody has to climb through the passage alone. I cried, tentatively by. Knife. To be a good neighbour. And stay. Is love supposed to be like this or cooked up so? Sentence like a rope. On which what is alien scatters microscopically, shakes from shoulders prairie, rib-light. Its muscles prosodic. Think of past nights in the park. Don’t make a fire. Don’t leave any rubbish behind. Don’t pause at such landscape.
chafing / scheuer
round the table places set, make a wish, headscarf, cloudbreak.
lay serviettes, wash salad, a helping hand. these gestures,
i know them still, just can’t place them any more. awnings
weather, now. everything’s fallen so still. i’d wish you’d
be waiting on the stairs for me when i arrived,
at night. how many notches have you made. sparks, flight.
then erased over. lines placed like harmonies. which
provides, lends support. winds. soon there’d be hail. chasing
through flower beds, into the cold store, fetch the cakes. here,
please shorten this a bit, at the hem, pressed shut, both eyes.
i’d have liked to have picked up a match and struck it.
stove ring. didn’t want it to end, with milking stool,
chervil. two sides of the same sofa. what’s rocking to and fro
counts, through time. everything else kept on hold so long,
like this table.
for else seel (5.4.1898‒2.12.1988)
(Untitled) / (Untitled)
coin under the tongue, then swallow, or how
did that go again. didn’t get the sequence right this time.
boxes with hanged people, all the way up the walls. two
turning, wilderness, a carpet of cast-off camisoles,
keep turning, wearing nothing more than their office
for showing their gratitude. do not cross this
line. where panic turns into projection. how long
have we been here already. do you recognise yourself
in me, is what i see in you a part of me. swallow.
there’s a smell of freshly-cut pines, snow
drifting through the viewers’ room, there’s not much air.
of course that would abate at some point. would even
the joints of angels tear then. expectations
creeping underneath the camisoles, we brush them off.
entrances. whittled shapes of beaks. i stuck out one leg.
then the other. surfaces of assault. a complete collection
of blue and green and flesh tones. in chorus, concentrated,
above massive shadows. stampede. the whole spoon-legged
pack. i found from standing a significant movement.
but not the strength to leave it be. trampling. what is that
smell. caniformia, the dog-like, growling, just coincidentally
unisono. fuck it, where are these sacrifices leading to. jeering,
resistance from fluffiness. you have to really want it too.
scuffed and worn slippers, the flews, sweat. to be prey,
sublime. understanding the deviations. the art dealer laughs.
it’s all genuine patina from being used. leg-work. have a feel.
twilight, crackling stitches. looking at toes,
the way they go for control, knot up. shortly after the
operation. no-one can get any nearer than this. fuchsia.
hidden laws. two or three objects in a glass case,
in a forest no-one’s allowed to enter. scratches.
outlines traced in chalk, caring. so thoroughly
manipulated. even the shaking, shoving of chairs,
the formally strict mechanics of the season. needles
the foot first recognises when it treads on them, trickling
from clothing no part of the body seems to fit.
choker, kummerbund, gourt d’amour, a tattoo
of smoke residue beneath a padded peter parker anorak
that absorbs the recoil. hesitating. until the next pose
is triggered. cushioning, opaque. like a place where reality
no longer happens. or only reality does.
fluid as identity. a wardrobe door swings shut, open,
shut, locket for preserved vulnerability. you cannot
arrest the present. relax. once more from the top.
fuchsia. positions everyone.
notations, reproductions of snow
falling through their voices, between birches.
faltering. here too there are tallies. what are you
shielding yourself against. I saw them fall away
as the sun falls away towards the horizon.
faint shadows, we chase. no sleighs today,
I rang for the coach. what implants
do you wish to wear, when we leave
the house. what heraldry. do not
touch. something can’t be taken back.
alaska, is that what you mean. so much home. well
preserved, weapons-grade material. crinkling,
chimera. shifting their positions
faster than I can fire.translated by Steph Morris and Catherine Hales