The new collection of poetry from one of the most prominent German poets.
‘Subsong’ or ‘whisper song’ is a specific sort of bird song: a combination of familiar calls and new vocal sequences, spontaneous sounds born in an instant, born of joy. Subsong is a form of poetry, an exaltation of words, love sung out across language and heart. Subsongs are particularly beautiful: they have no function. Family chit-chat, light-hearted gossip, jibber-jabber. And before you know it, you’re listening to poetry. Ulrike Draesner poeticises the world; she adopts its sounds, translates them into language. Precise. Melodious. With warmth and joy.
‘Subsong. The title could hardly be more fitting; from the very first poem, ‘pangen (sie spricht kein r’ – a reflection on language acquisition, on a child’s babbling – through to the last, ‘what is poetry’ in the chapter of the same title at the end of the collection, the spotlight is on bodies: the body of the mother, that of the child, those of the birds and other animals.
The final line of ‘what is poetry’, and hence of the entire collection, – ‘dunkel ist das innere des mundes/und alles was denkt’ –, draws the reader back inside the body once more; one doesn’t want to close the book but rather to read it again from the beginning. The exceptional composition of the collection allows it to read as a single poem, a 224-page work that demonstrates in myriad different ways what ‘language’ is and how it creates our world.’