Silke Scheuermann received the prestigious Leonce-und-Lena-Preis in 2001 for her debut collection Der Tag an dem die Möwen zweistimmig sangen (The Day on which the Sea Gulls Sang in Two Parts). She was quickly recognised as the promising talent of the young generation of German writers. Nor has there been any lack of subsequent prizes and words of praise. Alongside her collections of poetry Der zärtlichste Punkt im All (The Most Tender Place in the Universe, 2004) and Über Nacht ist es Winter (Winter has Come Overnight, 2007) she has also published the collection of short stories Reiche Mädchen (Rich Girls, 2005) and the much-praised novel Die Stunde zwischen Hund und Wolf (The Hour between Dog and Wolf, 2007).
The fact that Scheuermann, originally a poet, also writes prose will come as no surprise to the reader, for her poems often feature an action and characters. Although there are no signs whatever of a strictly epic train of events. In her poetry, space and time exist in a continuous process of change, often with associative, fluid transitions. The borders between reality and fantasy world, dream and reality have likewise been suspended – they glide seamlessly into each other. The main motif of the poems is thus metamorphosis and transformation. Nothing seems to stand firm in the surreal world of the poems, where wolves change into humans, willows look for an anchorage but seemingly without success, the I-figure is first a compass, then a needle, which is trying to orientate itself in a vast snowy landscape that it is impossible to come to grips with and where finally the power of emptiness decides the issue. The anything but idyllic world that is described stands in stark contrast to the desire of the actors in the poems, who – almost against their better knowledge – seek for utopias or ‘simply’ for something to hold on to and some genuine closeness. This contrast is further underscored by the fact that Silke Scheuermann often allows such characters as fantastic beings or mythological figures such as Icarus, werewolves, witches, angels and nymphs to appear in her poems, who are no longer able to find their way in ‘our’ reality and are not their normal selves: nymphs leave the water and change into shoe-consumers, the animals of Noah’s ark refuse to go ashore, and Icarus, liberated from his existence as a wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s, ends up at other places, at annual fairs.
In terms of tone, the poetry balances between melancholy and irony, and a surfeit of pathos is sabotaged by the frequently laconic tone of the poems. The ‘big’ themes, such as love, death and life pass in review, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes only very drily and cursorily, without all that much fuss – a principle that the poet strives for, as can be seen from her poetic lines in which poems ‘glitter/in utmost transitoriness’ and are ‘random/wilful/and of dazzlingly bright/obviousness’.
[Silke Scheuermann will take part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2008.
This text was written on that occasion.]
Silke Scheuermann on Lyrikline