Basile Morin, close-up photograph of swan feathers letting sunlight through, via Wikimedia Commons . Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED . For our series Making of a Poem, we’re asking poets and translators to dissect the poems they’ve published in our pages. Nadja Küchenmeister’s “ feathers and planets ,” translated by Aimee Chor, appears in our new Winter issue, no. 246. Here, we asked both Küchenmeister and Chor to reflect on their work. 1.Nadja Küchenmeister How did this poem start for you? Was it with an image, an idea, a phrase, or something else? The poem began, as it often does for me, with an image (“sugar, stirred into cream”) and at the same time a rhythmic set of sounds that, ideally, make a phrase into verse. I like tonal neighborhoods that are not immediately apparent but rather reveal themselves in the writing of a poem (in German, the words Einkaufsnetz [shopping bag] and Bett [bed] make a tonal connection, as do, more distantly, Netz [net] and Fuchs [fox]—at least to my ear). However, these resonances, these rhymes, have to emerge on their own—I cannot force them. They establish themselves on the basis of something that was already present in the poem. You could also say that something only comes to be because something else came into being before it. This is true for images and motifs and for sounds as well. In this sense, a poem always also creates itself, although of course I am the one who gives it its order. How did writing the first draft feel to you? Did it come easily, or was it difficult to write? (Are there hard and easy poems?) The final poem I wrote for Im Glasberg ( In the glass mountain ) was “feathers and planets.” It posed a problem for me because for a long time I had only the start of a poem. There were images that wouldn’t fall into place, that stood disconnected alongside each other. It was an abandoned poem. But I knew I still needed a piece for the book because I was aiming […]
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