Poetry at Sangam



ABOUT ME AND MYSELF by Birgit Kempker

Birgit Kempker Translates Herself

Hello strangers. Here I am. This is broken English. I believe in broken language. I don​’​t believe in fiction. I am not a great believer at all. The last thing I would believe in is: fiction. There is too much fiction in the world. I try to be real. My writing started when I was very angry and very young. It started by itself. The great and heavy book for book keeping and calculations was given to me by my father and it was him, to whom my words where burning. I wrote: I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, you did this and that and you did this and not that. The book lay under my bed. A bunk bed in the basement. My sister later told me that she thought she is me. This is a good starting point for writing. Also for my sister. Now all my writings try to reach feelings, thoughts, space and bodies. I like to touch the border in every sense. The skin, if it is a body. The madness, if it is the mind. The stillness, if it is sound. The clouds, if it is the ground. The non- understanding​,​ if it is words.

Since I am writing I want to dance. Writing is a way of dancing with a not so perfect body for jumps and pirouettes. My left knee is operated. My back is little curvy. My incarnation takes time as my left leg and hip are not fully ready. You see, there are many words to fill the empty spaces between the bones.

Or, yes, I am always writing within the arts, loveletters to the arts, sometimes simply about art, about friends dealing with art, about art dealers and art dealing, about seeing, thinking … and mostly trying to understand, or, if possible, to love the obstacles on my way. Though I never knew what this obstacle is: art. A strange thing among other strange things in the world, it seemed to me a little bit more open and ready to be read by me than for instance: beds, houses or even the woods. Beds, houses and even the woods do not need not be seen in order to be. They just are, whether I see them or not. But art has to be seen and is never done, or ready. It needs me to create it. And I need you, to be reader.

Also I was composing operas and singing them into my father‘s dictaphone. I cried my heart out of my soul. I stopped this when I heard them laughing in the evening, my parents and their friends; I destroyed the tape. But my parents had no friends. What was the reason I stopped singing these operas? Did they laugh alone? Also I was choreographing ballets in the washhouse and remembering Lis​z​t​, the piano and my girl friends who had to follow my plans through their movements. I drew each step on packing paper and invented a dance language.

Now I love studio work with sounds and to dive down deep in​to​ the world of hearing. One of my first pieces is: exercise in drowning. We asked boys, called ​’​mutants​’​ — because they where in mutation​ –​their voices where breaking, to improvise with the words we gave them.

I tried to reach the border, deep in the water, between life and the other world, like I experienced as a child while nearly drowning. My last book, Das Sehen Versuchen. Umverteilungsübungen is about trying to see; these are exercises in Reallocation. Now I am composing a radioplay with the voice of my father​;​ he speaks about his relationship to things. He loves things. He has many of them. In my last radio play: “Swing dei Ding. Praxis in sweet dislocation” I mixed voices and improvisations from my ​I​ndian literary friends during my stay in Sangam House about things, translation and fiction through speaking with them, being with them, with them translating or sometimes singing.