Biermann poetic

Wolf Biermann is probably most known and still controversial in Germany. His outspokenness in the GDR already caused a lot of trouble leading to his forced expatriation, but a warm welcome in the FRG. Most people from the baby boom generations know some of his songs prominent in the peace movements of the 1970s. Much less know is his relentless fascination with poetry. The Staatsbibliothek Berlin devoted 2 readings to his translations of poetry of Shakespeare and his French preferred poets and song writers. The expert reading and intonation of the French originals and Biermann’s translations was presented with enthusiasm as part of “the poetic coffee break” in the modern Stabi West. Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel presented in a lively fashion some of the work of Biermann and his remarks on the idiosyncratic style of Wolf Biermann were very much to the point. The translations form a unique style of translations, where it is possible to identify Biermann as translator. Here we enter into the theory of translation, where we tend to view the personality of the translator secondary to the first author of a poem. In Biermann’s case he seems to deviate consciously from this path. Doing translations becomes a kind of exercise to work and improve your own poetic skills. Exercise in metrics, lyrics and melody appear like a meditation on classical texts. In the translations from French, more than the ones from English, there is at occasions an additional critical or “Verfremdungseffekt” present, which enhances the translations with respect to the original. What are those translations? Perhaps more intended as “Pastiche” as the translators version of “rendre hommage” to his idols. In any case a memorable series of events in the Stabi. The small exposition of mainly books is another highlight, which facilitates the glancing through and reading of more of the writings of Wolf Biermann. The DHM has additional material on life and career of Biermann in a current exhibition. The strength of cultural institutes is the cooperation on specific projects. All in all, this is a great and rewarding effort honoring a troubadour between and beyond frontiers just like Bob Dylan, the other now acclaimed hero of the peace movement.

Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel in Stabi 2023-9-12
Lese Lounge Wolf Biermann 2023-9