extreme how the leaves quickly change color
must sweep equal u. wind comes u. so on
so also what rhymes can spoil very quickly
which is why no matter which word here
the sense lies on the road, is conveyed
it shimmers violet from many a glance
so similarly my head is halved (thirds)?)
what is written down does not come back
the angle of inclination counts, that’s how it is for everyone
september is one keyword among many
the verse rises five times to fall
so probably also the wind searches for new targets
northwest/northeast u. again nothing to tear
thematically little can be changed
the sewing machine is runningwhat does that mean?
winter is coming, it is already snowing on the edges
it could be asked about some things
for example concerning the darkness
the traffic lights have nothing new to say
in the end it is only about the writing
u. continue with the scissors: cannot read
the nerves don’t work anymore
i think it was holderlin
statistically every third person has the / cut
in the morning the light of the cigarette remains
that sounds very metaphorical (it is not)
basically only one link in a chain
the shadow of your voice has weight
the city is no longer visible in the window
in the text this is a beautiful element
probably a leaf will blow by
semantically no one knows me like that
winter becomes the victim of an aperture
i am already counting the lamps (there are eight)
perhaps now comes the time of the white walls
the poet goes to rest: good night.
Norbert Hummelt’s poems
hold a finely balanced equilibrium
between sentiment and irony, intoxicatingly beautiful in one moment and soberly observant in the next. Christoph Closer plays saxophone figures of simply ingenious simplicity, fresh, cheeky, direct and [loud], as the name of the band says, in which he and Norbert Hummelt play their numbers, which can be heard on the CD to this compact book.
Urs Engeler Editor, Announcement, 1997
About Norbert Hummelt’s singing drive
Norbert Hummelt lives, like many young authors nowadays, in Cologne. His poems have a tone all of their own and are long past a rehearsal stage. It is nice that Urs Engeler has given him a volume in his Compact Book series: The original sound, the own speaking, helps the texts to a completely different presence than the letters. Nevertheless, also here the self-reading asserts its right, one does not want to have all texts stolen by the author.
The book is beautifully designed, with all kinds of illustrations, interesting format and typesetting (design Marcel Schmid, Basel) – the CD does not denounce the medium book, but complements it. The texts are recited on it almost in singsong, in any case most skillfully intertwined with music. Christoph Closer is responsible for this, who u.a. as a founding member of Ugly Culture: with baritone, tenor and soprano saxophone, with drums and voice; Hummelt himself also adds the triangle. Above all, his own lyrics, which, as I said, do not need this presentation, but they tolerate it well.
the subtitles largely bow to the Eichendorffian motto from the Taugenichts: aus der ferne / in der fremde / diskontinuum / in der stille / die aussieht (from afar / in a foreign land / discontinuum / in silence / that looks). The texts hardly give way to this romantic allusion. "in the quiet splendor / … it whispers like dreaming / the whole night," says Eichendorff. In Hummelt’s book, "the silence" appears more as a threat; it makes dangers or fears audible that are otherwise concealed:
what are suddenly diluted voices
long drawn out in the courtyard
something shrill (panic) is coming
blown so close into the evening hour
The experiences of the present are not connected to the romantic twilight, but largely to the artificial light that makes outside and inside fluid – "indifferent shades", so that the magpie from the "Parsifal" prologue has to be summoned to separate black and white again, not to "hush" them up.
Very many poems give way to the classical iamb, even if Hummelt tries to dissolve this by line breaks. The rhymes have often tactfully retreated into the interior of the lines, but they still play a significant role, informing the verses of a melos that often goes further than the mere statement: "bright u. klar" (Hummelt abbreviates the and) then becomes the leitmotif for "das noch junge jahr", even if the lines must first be brought together by the reader.
The images are sparingly set/used, usually last for a whole poem without getting worn out. So works "late in the summer" with the impression: "with light shot through wire mesh fence". Pictures are attached to it, which are kept comprehensible: "grid for a photograph", "rubble". eye-grid-retina, bird’s net.
Hummelt’s pictorial sequences are built so openly that he can afford the music to go with them. At the same time they are so intricate and educated that they allow for a reading immersion. The wire mesh fence leads as if by itself to the emblematic image of the bird in the cage, which according to medieval tradition means the soul in the body.
But the conclusion goes beyond such an allusion by placing it in a subjunctive, which (the well-read) again refers to Eichendorff ("Und meine Seele spannte weit ihre Flugel aus"):
would also be the only guessed
bird, fly it
towards through such a net
But one must defend against the misunderstanding that these are poems for teachers. (Sure – the more you know, the more you enjoy reading, that’s always the case).) Many of Hummelt’s poems elaborate a gesture (thigh-pressure while riding, the sparrows’ departure from the window sill, a tense pair of lovers), with images and comparisons that are new/unheard of and often very funny. And also with his formal art (pleasantly present) Hummelt allows himself pretty jokes, for example when he takes up the cross rhyme, the nature writing, the sonnet, the "Winterreise" or the Benn tone ("not very mobile in the gestange": turnjunge).
Here and there this leads to corny gestures, but it is a pleasant background for those somewhat oblique, quite strong texts at the end of the volume, which under the sarcastic-ironic title "die aussicht" develop inner views of a contemporary youth: "scattered ego figure", characterized by nothing but "schwund", far away from the Bennian pathos of self-praise.
Even the rhymes do not give much more, are only to remind you that you once could. Hummelt tactfully/subtly goes back to "madman poetry" (without denouncing it, as, for example, Kipphardt did, by imitating it): fragmentary speech, ambivalence of line breaks/transitions, the objectification of the self and its assertion in the testimony of the past, the stalling at the word "tracks" denoting an end of speech/person – it is a very touching contemporary version of "Winterreise" with which Hummelt’s volume concludes.
Alexander von Bormann
Poetry sometimes begins with a gentle twist. For example, with the turning of a mill wheel that sounds from afar, as an echo of a time that has long sunk away. In a poem by the romanticist Joseph von Eichendorff, the mill wheel is associated with the memory of a love disaster:
In a cool ground,
There goes a mill wheel,
My’ sweetheart has disappeared,
Who lived there.
The poems of the lyricist Norbert Hummelt, born in 1962, have learned from this romantic tone of longing and wistfulness – but not only from it. Hummelt, after all, originally began writing as an experimental poet in the environment of the fierce language-smashers Thomas Kling and Marcel Beyer, with an unmistakable delight in parodically dismantling the lyrical ancients. In 1993 his first book of poems was published in the East Berlin Galrev Publisher, of the band crisp codes, in which he collected so-called "pick-ups" from the language scraps of everyday communication and mixed them into ironic verses. But already in the following volume singtrieb (1997) Hummelt recalled the romantic tradition of poetry. The magic words of Joseph von Eichendorff were no longer quoted ironically, but became the starting point of a new solemn tone of longing. The second sound track, which Hummelt took up and revived in his poetry, is the Four Quartets of the American, actually English world poet T.S. Eliot. In a congenial transmission, on which he spent many years of his life, Hummelt has come closer to the existential songs of Eliot’s quartets, he has transmuted his dark life melody.
But where does the romantic mill wheel of his poetry turn?? It nests and turns in a "Muhlenbusch" in the Rhineland. With subtly placed internal rhymes and rhythmically finely balanced verses, Hummelt visualizes a primal scene of the father in his poem "Der Mensch". Here, too, it is about a loss of love – about the loss of a friend. Man as a "social being" – that is the worst illusion in decisive moments of life:
man is a social being, brought my
vater once, probably it is not
been by him, I have it only so until today
in the ear. u. I remember how he once, as a boy
with a friend, when he still had it, until almost
to the muhlenbusch well with the wheels went. but
this one suddenly turned half way around u. was
arranged with a girl, there it became under
mute to the friends. t is not
the told, perhaps in the muhlenbusch, as we
driving in the car, my late mother carried it to me.
"Poetry," Norbert Hummelt once said, "is light therapy, even when it is dark."And these poetic illuminations illuminate in this poet from the Lower Rhine (who now lives in Berlin) again and again primal scenes of childhood, encounters with the mother and the father and even prenatal conditions. Hummelt evokes in his gently flowing long lines "many tender wonders" that occur on the border between sleeping and waking. In its language of transience speaks an ego that prefers to dwell in the unfixed precincts between sleep, dream and waking state – an ego in the zones of twilight and trance.
Michael Braun, from: Counterstrophe no. 1. Leaves on poetry, Werhahn publishing house, 2009
"What rhymes, gets eaten"
– A few principal considerations following Norbert Hummelt’s (new) poems. –
If there is anything to be said about Norbert Hummelt’s poems, it cannot be ignored from the discussions that have taken place in recent years around the new German literature. His poems seem to have a fundamental connection with the disputes subconsciously.
When Hummelt comments on other authors, he uses the irritant vocabulary that has triggered and still triggers the controversy about the weal and woe of the new German literature, and it quickly becomes clear to which school of thought he is trying to connect, at least in his own thinking about literature. A quote: "Jandl is one of those authors who would have taken up again the threads of modernism cut by the Nazis…"
Now Hummelt is not one of those authors who were born with a trumpet at their mouth, but his basic unobtrusive sentence nevertheless reveals an ethos that many authors who took their first steps as writers in the eighties possess. They seek, what Jandl had shown them a good generation earlier, also the connection to the avant-garde, the "modern age," to stay in Hummelt’s parlance, and thus an essential decision has been made as to what their literature should look like: broken, open, eluding the beautiful (smoothing) appearance…
And Hummelt has written poems that are very close to this resurgent avant-garde tradition. In 1993 he published his first volume of poetry crisp codes at galrev, a publishing house that put all its ambition in publishing poems that were damaged and that saw in it the necessary and only legitimate expression of the damages that we are all marked by. Example:
Aggressive feedback , irreversible
and that is then, sometimes flutter-
haft in its appearances, erratic?
guess, also defect? TuV due? Accident?
Here the language is literally involved in accidents. The words are split up, orthography, grammar, syntax are arranged according to new rules, so that new meanings can be formed. And these verses are by no means the result of a one-time excursion into the regions of the linguistically irregular – something that must be conceded to every younger lyricist in his exuberance. Hummelt has also written a number of other poems in which his treatment of language by no means stops at the barriers imposed by the Duden or what is semantically considered correct. And so that this does not get lost in the argumentative turmoil, too: these poems are good.
i liked to eat rice with cinnamon and sugar
you say it lacks salt again
you like to eat rice with cinnamon and salt
i would rather eat salt with cinnamon and sugar
In this "culinary sonnet 1" he pushes the boundaries of what is semantically possible (in the realistic sense) and penetrates into the relationship zones of a couple in which language is no longer up to one of its most important tasks: to send messages to a counterpart.
i stood in the doorway as i thought
however I turn it u. consider
wherever i have my have u. well shipped
I do not know where I will spend the night tomorrow
the moon was rising u. from as if languishing
when i woke up at night with my sheep
on the horizon the pastureland flattened
i don’t know what the shepherd dog was doing there
In this "bucolic sonnet", which in Hummelt’s 2. Book of poems singtrieb (1997), the rhyme appears in epidemic proportions. It infects every line, so that whatever is to be said, it must end in "achte," no matter what repercussions that has on the meaning of the verse. The author approaches with it the razor-sharp drawn border, beyond which the insanity can no longer be restrained, and from which to cross he can hold back less and less, the further his consciousness spiral turns into remote heights.
So far so good, one might think, and see in Hummelt’s poems the admittedly moderate continuation of an avant-garde that has its forefathers in August Stramm and Kurt Schwitters and whose children’s children are countless. But in Hummelt’s poems, and especially in his new ones, there is a noticeable tendency away from breaks and toward formal unity. In the poem "der letzte sittich" ("the last parakeet"), for example: "i can roll my trillkorn still / in my beak / until the last mauser is". Even if one looks diligently, there is no sign in these lines that their author wants to continue radical writing methods, and in many other lines of his new poems there is also a formally well-developed bel canto tone, in which mild world-weariness and gentle fear of death are woven in. These outwardly restrained poems allow for a very different conclusion than that the avant-garde is to be served here once again. Basically, Hummelt has arrived at a position that has only one thing in common with the attempt to tie in with the progressive authors of the 1920s, namely that it was formulated at the same time: also at the beginning of the 1950s.
In very recent times, we come across publishing and editorial attempts to impose the kind of neutonerei in poetry, a kind of recurrent Dadaism, in which in a poem about sixteen times the word ‘effective’ is at the beginning of the line, but it is also not followed by anything more impressive, combined with the last sounds of the Pygmies and Andamanese..
This brings us to Gottfried Benn of 1951, and Hummelt seems to want to entangle himself in at least two contradictions of the grossest caliber. For either he takes the side of the authors who like to experiment, but then this excludes the formally developed light tone that prevails in poems like "der letzte sittich", or he takes the side of the growing number of authors for whom a poem must be successful in its pure form, which conversely excludes a forced loose handling of grammar and syntax. And for one of both directions he would have to decide! The neo-avant-gardists can only see a representative of the literary roll back in someone who strives for formal perfection, and for the Benn successors in disguise, what Stramm and Schwitters did had come to an end with these authors. A continuation of this is nothing but a limp "repetition", combined with the "sounds of the pygmies", at best literarily irrelevant.
But in his poems Hummelt also maintains contact with authors to whom even Benn did not necessarily want to return – with authors who, to put it in sweeping terms, belong to Romanticism.
In the crisp codes he has set out on an idiosyncratic "winter journey". Someone wants to find out what makes him tick, it seems to be an author, and this author remembers his reading of the "Winterreise". What he lists as important for him remains abstract: "my language, my eye, my window, my place". The only thing that becomes clear is that Hummelt’s winter traveler is not a traveler in the usual sense, with a certain pleasure ("mein platz") he remains immobile at his window, and if he does want to do something, then only one of his organs is involved: his eyes. But even when his eyes wander and "look at the street, everything remains the same". This eye-wanderer goes into a little more detail when he describes what presents itself to his gaze: "the colors of the traffic lights in the white neon light, a snowbow glow in the artificial winter". For the first time there is talk of winter, but this winter remains an "artificial" product or evaporates into the language: "schneebogenleuchten". Nothing changes in the scenery, it remains a scene, a kind of stage set in front of which a play could be performed, but in front of which no play will ever be performed – not even life.
A winter journey, then, without ice and snow, without "Wirtshaus," "Lindenbaum," and "Fruhlingstraum," a winter journey, and Hummelt incorporates quotations from Wilhelm Muller into his poem, without a "girl" who "speaks of love," but instead of phantom fears: if snowflakes came, Hummelt’s writer frets in the poem, they might damage his language. In short: a winter journey that does not come to pass, or rather. one that could tentatively take place in an autistic unrealis.
And this brings us to the center of his generational experience and how Hummelt reacts to it as a writer. It is about the wordy description of almost nothing; Hummelt has already set out on a winter journey, for even the "clear water" can be treacherous, especially when there is nothing else except clear water. Pathetically put, it is about the horrors of the trivial, and he deals with these horrors indirectly. He speaks of it in the negative, and that means: he speaks of a Winter Journey that is not a Winter Journey, and without using a single word on it, it becomes clear that he means exactly his Winter Journey, the Winter Journey that he wants to grasp.
In Muller’s "Winterreise" sound plays a major role ("From the street a post horn sounds, / What has it that it jumps up high, / My heart?") just as with another author Hummelt likes to use in his own poetic cause: Josef Eichendorff. On the CD that accompanies the volume singtrieb there, he also spoke a poem by Eichendorff:
The stars shone so golden,
At the window I lonely stand,
And heard from far away
A post horn in the silent land.
The heart burned in my body,
I secretly thought to myself,
Oh who could travel along
In the glorious summer night.
These verses could actually have been written by Hummelt! "At the window" the "lonely stand" in the "silent land" – that’s exactly where he feels compelled to go. Also the heart that burns in the body when it hears the post horn – in Hummelt’s poem an equally great enticement could come from it. And with the double use of the subjunctive of "can" one has actually arrived at Hummelt with Eichendorff. In Eichendorff’s poem a tone of futility prevails, which Hummelt takes up in his poems. Eichendorff conjures up a precarious idyll. He would like to go on a journey, but he knows very well that he will never be in that stagecoach that rushes through the summer night with a beautiful sound. He makes a longing resound which is certain that it will never be fulfilled. And the more beautifully this longing is put forward, the more cuttingly any thought of realization is excluded. Hummelt follows this tone in his poems and elaborates it further.
Out of sheer exuberance, one might as well quote another late romantic, and not because Hummelt’s poems have no value of their own – only from the old, in the reflex to the old, do new things arise:
ON A LAMP
Still unshifted, O fair lamp, adornest thou,
Daintily suspended here on light chains,
The blanket of the now almost forgotten pleasure.
On a white marble bowl, its edge
The ivy wreath of golden-green ore is surrounded by light,
A gaggle of children gleefully entwines the Ringelreihn.
Hummelt’s new poems have a trait of the small, but beware: in their inversion of the world, as in "letzte sittich" or in the fact that in "ziffern" a bar code is attributed the ability to look at someone "strangely," these poems retain their futility tone. And that means: they do not reveal what they are written to resist as it is.
But in these poems a decisive step further is taken. Morike’s "Lustgemach" is the vocabulary that indicates the direction in which Hummelt has set out and has already made good progress. "Lustgemach" sounds out of place in the finely turned context of Morike’s lamp, and in the household of a Swabian priest it sounds like everything that must be considered forbidden. This word lifts the poem far above a skilfully crafted description of the subject, finely structured by rhythm and rhyme. This one word radiates on the whole poem, it gives it a diabolic power and makes clear with how much word effort this world must be put under spell, so that it does not jump to pieces by fascination for eroticism. This world must be bribed with a grace from the second edge, so that the desires can be restrained to some extent. A similar game is also played in Hummelt’s poems, only other things have been added to love death, which cause fear. One listens to the emotionally neutral-sounding term "sign".
In "hungry u. awake", the situation at the window is taken up again, but this time the "unstruck / sky, which I would otherwise have guessed / through the blinds, but / as far as I could always see high up in the sky" is not visible. sideways search" is disguised, and similarly, idyll and its disturbance are pushed into each other by periods that are lightly joined but relate to each other ever more unwieldily, until no more sky is able to shine down into this poem, and the author of the poem can persist in his playfully muddled displeasure. He does not give up his resistance, but in the frictions of the poem the postadornitic so coddled agony is left far behind, which before stray enlightenment and missed revolution only in their degree of abstraction happily competing depression volte-face beaten. These poems at least do not let the pleasure of the poem.
Correspondingly, for Hummelt, the time-honored contradictions do not exist either. Why should he not bring the poem in its form to perfection without disregarding the damages of life? And how can he not collapse grammar and syntax without immediately getting caught in the coarse thicket of the unsuccessful?? He has no fear of rhymes, onomatopoeias and sound poems, he uses rhythm and stumbling semantics when it suits him. In his poems he is equally an austere Gottfried Benn and an avant-gardist. Both writing principles rub against each other in his linguistic formations, and Hummelt leaves these positions, inherited in their alleged incompatibility from the 1950s, far behind in the 1970s with an aggressive sympathy for everything that had to do with the avant-garde.
And this brings us to the end of Ernst Jandl and his poem "die ersten zwolf zeilen":
the line that stands still before me
and a second line wants
i invented this one
and already two more are tied to it
an end is not yet in sight
The only thing that counts is the poem. D. h. whether what has been created on paper with letters is a poem or not. Everything is welcome that leads to a poem, because "what rhymes is eaten". Pure pragmatism reigns at the highest literary standards. Or, to use a stubborn discussion-triggering irritant vocabulary from the beginning: With modernism, modernity was overcome. Finally and definitively, one would like to add with a heavy sigh.
Klaus Siblewski, manuskripte, issue 143, 1999
– Norbert Hummelt lives, like many young authors nowadays, in Cologne. His poems have a tone all of their own and have long since moved beyond the experimental stage. It is nice that Urs Engeler has dedicated a volume to him in his CompactBook-series has conceded: The original sound, one’s own speaking, helps the texts to a completely different presence than the letters. Nevertheless, here, too, self-reading asserts its right, if one does not want to have all texts stolen from the author. –
The book is beautifully designed, with all kinds of illustrations, interesting format and typesetting (design Marcel Schmid, Basel) – the CD does not denounce the medium of the book, but complements it. The texts are recited on it almost in singsong, in any case most skillfully interlaced with music. Christoph Gloser is responsible for this, who u.a. as a founding member of Ugly Culture with baritone, tenor and soprano saxophone, with drums and voice; Hummelt himself also adds the triangle. Above all his own texts, which, as I said, don’t need this presentation, but tolerate it well.
The subtitles largely bow to Eichendorff’s motto from the "Taugenichts":
in the strangeness
The texts hardly yield to this romantic allusion.
In the silent splendor
… whispers like dreams
The whole night
Eichendorff says. In Hummelt’s work, "the silent" appears more as a threat; it makes dangers or fears audible that are otherwise concealed:
what are all at once for diluted voices
long drawn out in the courtyard
what shrill (panic) comes
into the evening hour
… blown so close
The experiences of the present are not linked to the romantic twilight, but largely to the artificial light that makes outside and inside fluid – "indifferent shades," so that the magpie from the "Parsifal" prologue must be summoned to separate black and white again, not to "hush up" them.
Very many poems give way to the classical iamb, even if Hummelt tries to resolve this by line breaks. The rhymes have often tactfully retreated into the interior of the lines, but they still play a significant role, communicating a melos to the verses that often goes further than the mere statement, "hell u. klar" (Hummelt abbreviates this and) then becomes the leitmotif for "das noch junge jahr," even if the lines must first be brought together by the reader.
The imagery is sparingly set/used, lasting mostly a whole poem without getting worn out. Thus "late in the summer" works with the impression: "with light shot through wire mesh fence". Images that are kept comprehensible: "raster for a photograph", "rubble terrain". eye-grid-retina, bird’s net.
Hummelt’s image sequences are built so openly that he can afford the music to go with them. At the same time they are so intricate and educated that they allow a reading immersion. The wire mesh fence leads as if by itself to the emblematic image of the bird in the cage, which according to medieval tradition means the soul in the body.
But the ending goes beyond such an allusion by placing it in a subjunctive, which (the well-read) again refers to Eichendorff ("Und meine Seele spannte weit ihre Flugel aus"):
would also be the only guessed
bird, fly it
through such a net
But one must resist the misunderstanding that these are poems for the instructed. (Of course: the more one knows, the more pleasure one has while reading, that is always so.) Many of Hummelt’s poems elaborate a gesture (thigh-pressure while riding, the sparrows’ departure from the window sill, a tense lovers’ couple). with images and comparisons that are new/unheard and often very funny. And also with his art of form (pleasantly present) Hummelt allows himself pretty jokes, for example when he takes up the cross rhyme, the nature writing, the sonnet, the "Winterreise" or the Benn – tone ("not very mobile in the linkage": turnjunge).
This leads here and there to caliculous gestures, but is a soothing background for those somewhat oblique, quite strong texts at the end of the volume, which, under the sarcastic-ironic title "die aussicht," develop interior views of a contemporary youth: "scattered ego figure," characterized by nothing but "shrinkage," far from the Bennian pathos of self-praise.
Also the rhymes don’t give much more, are only to remind that one could once do that. Hummelt tactfully/subtly goes back to ‘lunatic poetry’ (without denouncing it, as, for example, Kipphardt does, by imitation): fragmentary speech, ambivalence of line breaks/transitions, the objectification of the self and its assertion in the testimony of the past, the faltering at the word "tracks" denoting an end of speech/person – it is a very touching contemporary version of the winter journey, with which Hummelt’s band closes.
Alexander von Bormann, die horen, issue 192, 1998
Further contribution to this book:
Ernest Wichner: Into a silent region
Basler Zeitung, 28.11.1997