Durs Grünbein on the Hollowness of Performing Poetry on Zoom
In Conversation with Naveen Kishore on The Quarantine Tapes
Hosted by Paul Holdengräber, The Quarantine Tapes chronicles shifting paradigms in the age of social distancing. Each day, Paul calls a guest for a brief discussion about how they are experiencing the global pandemic.
On Episode 189 of The Quarantine Tapes, guest host Naveen Kishore is joined by Durs Grünbein. A writer and poet from Germany, Durs talks to Naveen about his most recent book of poetry, Porcelain: Poem on the Downfall of My City.
In Porcelain, Durs writes about Dresden, the city he grew up in. Durs expresses how his childhood felt determined by history, growing up still surrounded by the ruins of the bombing of Dresden years earlier. He and Naveen talk about how his work struggles against that feeling of determination and what it was like to return to poems Durs wrote years ago. They discuss Kurt Vonnegut, Durs’ Oxford Lectures, and his hesitancy to try to reflect in the midst of the pandemic.
From the episode:
Durs Grünbein: [Zoom] always puts you in a kind of hollow space. After some of these meetings, I feel very hollow in a way, because there’s really no reaction. There’s no interaction. There is no life, onstage action. So this is really things I miss because as a poet, I’m not only one who’s writing his text and then publishing it and waiting for a reaction; they also have to be performed, right? As a poet, I’m very used to performing them in public and to have an audience with its live reactions. And so I’m missing that.
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Durs Grünbein, 1962 born in Dresden, lives in Berlin and Rome. After the decline of the Soviet Empire he started travelling throughout Europe, South Asia and the United States. Since 2005 Professor for Poetics and Aesthetics at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Member of several German Academies and since 2009 member of the Order Pour le mérite for Science and Arts in Germany. He published fifteen collections of poetry, one diary, a book of memories and four books of essays.