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„Vielleicht hilft es uns“, schreibt Dieter M. Gräf in seiner Eröffnungsmail an Alessandro De Francesco, „wenn wir uns über post-poésie Gedanken machen, klarer zu sehen, wo wir derzeit stehen?“ Beide Dichter beschäftigen sich mit Entgrenzungen, mit anderen Medien, und werden nun in einer Korrespondenz für den poetenladen ihr Verständnis von zeitgenössischer Dichtung vorbringen und weiter entwickeln. In der Lyrik-Konferenz beziehen weitere Autoren Stellung.
Dieter M. Gräf  
Dieter M. Gräf, Jahrgang 1960, lebt nach seiner Kölner Zeit und Aufenthalten in Rom, New York und Vézelay nunmehr in Berlin. Er veröffentlichte 1994-2004 im Suhrkamp und Insel Verlag drei Gedichtbände sowie eine Anthologie; sein neuester Band, Buch Vier, liegt nunmehr bei der Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt vor. Green Integer veröffentlichte die Auswahlbände Tousled Beauty und Tussi Research (Los Angeles 2005/07).
Alessandro De Francesco  
Der 1981 in Pisa geborene, derzeit in Frankreich lebende Alessandro De Francesco debütierte mit Lo spostamento degli oggetti (Cierre Grafica/Anterem, Verona 2008) und bewegt sich mit seinen Texten, Performances und Vermittlungen international mit großer Selbst­verständ­lichkeit.

Sechster Brief | Alessandro De Francesco antwortet Dieter M. Gräf

(anti)political and transfer processes
Sechster Brief
Dear Dieter, I deeply agree with you when you write at the end of your letter that the political question in your work (and in my work as well) is something very different from „engagement“. It is a very important point. Your poetry is not directly political, it sets up a critical process through new descriptions of historical and political events that are somehow „transfigured“, yes, „transferred“ through a „non-encoded“ language. Your „Italian“ poems, such as Fiume or Idroscalo. Ostia I and II, or Das Klingen der Schüsse am Comer See (that I had the pleasure to translate into Italian), are a very good example of such a procedure. So I intend „political“ in the sense of a critical redescription of reality or history, made through poetry. If we conceive, as we do, an indirect political issue to be set into poetry, this means actually to go „against“ politics, and, also, not to be „engaged“ in a positive sense. In my previous letter I spoke about a „political obstacle“ poetry could help to see and, eventually, to avoid. This is a very indirect political point of view inside poetry and I would like to say a bit more about it. I would like to talk in particular about two (anti)political processes I employed in my last work, Ridefinizione. Two writing processes that, again, try to draw from poetry issues that people normally think are not (or even shouldn't be) a poetry's concern. But before talking about them, I have to go back to the question of non-linearity, multi-linearity and „holes“ in my texts. The question, in this case, is how could we conceive politically a statement like the following one: non-linearity and lack of data are two fundamental properties of reality as we, the human beings, experience it. My poetry, since I consider it as a part of the real (you remember: no distinction, no solution of continuity between reality and language, we all live in a world-language) is therefore itself non-linear. Well, sometimes non-linearity and lack of data aren't the product of an ontological unknowableness of the real, but the result of a bad redescription of events produced through a politically-oriented manipulation of the information. On the one hand, there are events which have a first, simple layer of truth that politically-oriented manipulation of the information tries to partially or completely hide (for example, an event of violence inside the prison of Guantanamo can happen or not: when information hides such an event, it creates a non-linear redescription of a linear event: non-linear on linear, so to say). On the other hand, there's a non-linear reality in which truth is much more multiple and complex than how people are lead to believe (for example, the political and ethical responsibilities connecting September 11th to the war in Irak: here a politically-oriented manipulation of the information reconstructs a normalizing linear fiction on a non-linear succession of events: linear on non-linear). „Politically-manipulated information“ hides the truth when it's possible to identify it and shows one single truth when there are many complex ones. Poetry can function as a critical device against those manipulation practices. The two (anti)political processes I will show now are a part of this critical perspective. I might call the first one revealing the political obstacle through an interruption of narration: some of my texts catch a glimpse of a (violent) event but they are written as they couldn't completely tell it, as if a more powerful instance prevented the text from going on. Let me quote a short text as an example of this process:

(translated in English by Noura Wedell and Alessandro De Francesco)

The second technique might be called creating an indirect critical redescription of an event previously described by web information. In several texts of the second section of Ridefinizione I proceeded in the following way: first, I made a database with a series of web news on the Middle-East conflict. Then I copied and pasted some parts of them into my „squares“ and wrote my own text somehow „inside“ them, splitting articles in several parts and entering my text between those parts. At the end, I erased the news and left my text, recomposing and readjusting it. In such a procedure, itself non-linear, the event and the way it is told are not in the text anymore. The text is conceived somehow „after“ the information, as to testify to a deeper layer of emotional result generated by the event: a sort of undetermined and forgotten nucleus of pain coming from unknown events occuring „out-there“ (the Middle East conflict spaces) that are transposed through media into western bourgeois spaces. The texts produced through this procedure are not „expressly political“ at all. Let me quote one of them:

(translated in English by Noura Wedell and Alessandro De Francesco)

Following again your definition, I could say that these composition processes are transfer-processes. First of all in the sense of space, of course: from Middle-East conflict spaces to here (western spaces), even though in this case Middle-East conflict spaces are not a physical place, but a dramatic „allotopia“ we can observe and redescribe from here through media and information, unless we „common people“ choose to risk our life, which could also be a possibility for someone (there are of course a lot of other spaces I have physically been to and that have been very important to my „transfer“, I definitely feel like you in this sense). Non-linear narratives could be seen themselves as complex poetry transfer processes. We also don't have to forget the language transfer called translation, which can be poetry on its own. Our dialogue, I would say, is also a transfer!

Within the framework of our transfer, then, I would like to criticize two points of your letter. The first one is about poetry and experience. As I wrote, the transfer in the sense of „space“ is also very important to me. But it can't be a direct, a linear relation either. In Italy there are not so many empty spaces (60 million inhabitants for such a small country), nonetheless there were „holes“ and „spaces“ in my poetry since I began to write! I mean, it can also be a purely conceptual transfer, a travel that you make in reality through language, since I believe, as you know, that these two instances are two faces of the same thing, if not exactly the same thing. The second problem, more seriously, is about post-modernism. I think that a too big importance is given to this concept today. Post-modernism has been an useful description of what was happening some decades ago, but it's over now. I don't believe that we have more problems or more advantages than past generations in relation to what came before us. I mean that we have those problems or advantages only if we think that we have them. If not, they disappear. On the other hand, I also don't really understand the idea of „new“ or „original“ in poetry. I think that we just have to think with other paradigms. It is possible not to depend neither on an idea of „post“ or „after“ something nor on an „whatever-ism“. Non-linear and multi-linear conceptions of poetry, prosepoetry, even post-poetry don't have any relation to post-modernism for me. They are on another level, they are the produce of a totally different perspective. I am very interested in the heritage of the past, and several artistic traditions and languages influence my poetry. Nevertheless, I think that poetry itself, when we write it, can be contemporary, can be inside what is happening, not before or after. That is also why I really don't feel at all this famous anxiety of influence Harold Bloom wrote about. At least, I can feel a lot of respect and interest for what came before me, but when I write I write now and the heritage of the past enriches my text without disturbing it or „speeding it up“. Could you respond to that?

A last thing: I also appreciate Ernst Jandl's poetry a lot. It is a rare and therefore important example of how it could be possible to make Lautpoesie without stopping to think. Our contemporary Michael Lentz is another great example in that sense.

Die Korrespondenz wird an dieser Stelle fortgesetzt mit dem 7. Brief von Dieter M. Gräf.

  1. post-poésie (I)
  2. post-poésie (II)
  3. ästhetisch links
  4. against dualisms
  5. Transfer
  6. (anti)political and transfer process
  7. jetzt
  8. no first class second hand!
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