Ulf Stolterfoht: Lingos I-IX


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Winner of the PEN Award For Poetry In Translation, 2008

Lingos takes as its playground all the cultural baggage of our turn of the century and examines it with a mix of deconstruction, parody and sheer exuberance. The poems flaunt their intent to avoid linearity, prefabricated meaning and the lyrical I. Instead, they cultivate irony, punning, fragmenting, juxtaposing, distorting, and subject everything to an almost compulsive humor — the author and his own methods included.

Ulf Stolterfoht was born in 1963 in Stuttgart and now lives in Berlin with his wife and three children. His 3 books of poems are all called Fachsprachen [lingos, jargons, technical terms] and are all published by Urs Engeler Editor:
Fachsprachen I-IX (1998), Fachsprachen X-XVIII (2002), which received the Hans-Erich-Nossack-Förderpreis and the Christine Lavant-Preis respectively, and most recently, in 2004, Fachsprachen XIX-XXVII, for which he received the Anna-Seghers-Prize in 2005 and a stipendium to the German Academy in Rome.

“Let us only say, that Stolterfoht’s poems have something I would count as new possibilities of poetry: an intellectual serenity that is not just witty and satirical, but works with advanced poetic means and proves to be à la hauteur of the satirized subjects.”

—Jörg Drews, Merkur

Hhere the entire history of philosophy and literature is first tossed into the waste basket before it is possibly reused…. But underneath it all, the author is in search of a serious and usuable poem, This double bind, on the one hand to serve/use postmodern recycling and, on the other, to make fun of it, is what I consider so extraordinary.”

—Kurt Drawert, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

“For some writers, writing is not only the creation of intimate bodies through questions, but exposing the rifts inside ourselves that refract those questions. These are the rifts that the poetry of Ulf Stolterfoht is seeking to inhabit… What is compelling are the kinetic shifts and subversions taking place in almost every phrase.
Stolterfoht’s poems are striving to be a language of possibility. It’s a brave project and that is why his book is required reading…The poem becomes a representation of language’s secular (but no less profound) shevirah, the vessels of syntax are broken, the shards scattered by the shadows residing in silence, the shapes of the possibilities that language never assumed.”

—Jared Demick,  “Commentaries I-IX on Ulf Stolterfoht’s Lingos I-IX,” The Jivin Ladybug 2

“One is increasingly and delightfully unsettled with Stolterfoht’s poetic undoings. Or, as the case may be, dismemberments. This concerted f-ing with structure allows Stolterfoht to ruminate that much more intently on the limits and liminal possibilities of standard German, as well as incorporate some notion of Celan’s “polychrome of apparent actuality.” Deliberate misprisions of words like adaft [for adapt]…are more than clever; they break open meanings imprisoned in the monolingual aesthetics of the mother tongue…. Where Celan followed silence, Stolterfoht offers heteroglossic cacophony. His poetry loves to stutter and parrot, splice and dice, clang and go bang….

If Stolterfoht is “a demolition worker in the superstructure of aeshtetic discourse,” the R.Waldrop’s translations put him squarely in the veritable demolition derby of American discourse… Lingos I-IX reads like an antifascist futurist manifesto for the 21st century, an exciting way to recode a war on language that is not being covered.”

—Kevin Carollo, “Lingos I-IX”, RAIN TAXI

“Stolterfoht’s jubilantly intertextual poetry is more than a spoof on the intellectual fashion of intertextuality­–which it also is, of course. A clue comes early on when the poet alludes to Herder, the eighteenth-century philosopher who proposed that language determines thought…. Stolterfoht constantly wonders what words might actually be able to do… but he equally places his mockery of linguistic impotence and philo­sophical speculation in unexpected contexts, such as when he invokes, not only the relationship of language and thinking, but also that of language and feeling [and gives] otherwise hilarious passages abrupt poignant twists.”

—John Taylor , “German Poetry beyond Rilke, Benn, and Brecht,” The Antioch Review  (Winter 2009)