Sonja vom Brocke works as if the subject matter she addresses determines the shape of the poem – she doesn't limit herself to the common forms at hand. In what is her first book of poetry proper, Venice singt, one can find a series of 'Cameos' and in the tiny poems' relief, bulls, nymphs and dogs are drawn, amid observations referring to current events or myths. Most other poems are wilder, more whimsical, highly associative and have no intention whatsoever to create smooth surface beauty or an ongoing story. Language itself invites to take unpaved roads. Then again, some texts do bear the marks of prose and seem to embark on a story, for example when wondering what would happen to someone who turns into the Auerstrasse in Berlin or meets a remarkable person. Almost immediately, another layer is added in which this first reality is fictionalized and a different imagination takes over. All her texts respond acutely and intensely to the present – commercialization, mediatization, the destruction of our lived environment, the way Internet introduces people into the new contemporaneity of the Anthropocene.
This is a poet who taps from every layer and register of language, both high and low, and doesn't hesitate to mix them. She is strong when it comes to unexpected imagery. Especially, the one-of-a-kind, unabashed and strikingly playful word combinations stand out.
Sonja vom Brocke was born in 1980 in Hagen and studied philosophy, German and English in Cologne, Hamburg and Paris. She has published extensively in magazines and has collaborated with artists and musicians. In 2010, the slim volume Ohne Tiere appeared, and in 2010 the now leading publishing house kookbooks published Venice singt. It was awarded the GWK-Literaturpreis 2015 (awarded by the Gesellschaft für Westfälishe Kulturarbeit).
Sonja vom Brocke profoundly engages with other texts but even more with other media and art forms not based in language, such as a Peer Raben song, a drama show or a series of abstract and esoteric paintings by Hilma or Klimt. In the section 'Gemäldegalerie' in Venice singt, she alludes to Titian, Cranach and Lippi, and the female museum guard as well, as if she were flesh made paint. Her texts are characterized by an extraordinary creativity, are both abstract and figurative and have a special tone and a particular, idiosyncratic yet enchanting rhythm. One would think that Sonja vom Brocke's language, sound-driven as it is, seems on the run for meaning and coherence, but the corporeality evoked by her words is one that seeks the plenitude of an attentive and surprising twenty-first century life.
Ohne Tiere. Verlag Heckler und Koch, Berlin, 2010.
toughts fall / ins Fell (with Christina Kramer), Institut für skulpturelle Peripherie, Düsseldorf, 2011.
Venice singt, kookbooks, Berlin, 2015.