»it is your body you have no better words for what you see, vital and detached from yourself knowing more about you than you can bear and it says: my love for you is deeper than a forest it says: dark is the inside of the mouth and everything that thinks«

– End of the poem „what is poetry?“ from subsong

Luchterhand Literary Publishers

Published on 03.11.2014
Hardback with dust-jacket
ISBN: 978-3-630-87461-6


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.’

Silke Scheuerman, laudation for Ulrike Draesner on the occasion of her being awarded the Lyrikpreis Orphil 2016