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The Art of Kunst

Selected Poems, Letters, and Other Writings by Thomas Kunst


Steven D. Martinson

This book introduces for the first time selected poetry, letters, and other writings by the German writer Thomas Kunst (Leipzig) to the English-speaking world. Given the many prestigious awards the writer has received for his poetry and the originality of his imaginative thinking, the Turkish-German writer Feridun Zaimoglu rightly called Kunst a great poet. Through his immersion in the poetry of Paul Celan, Georg Trakl, Nicolas Born, Thomas Brasch, and several South and North American writers, Thomas Kunst has acquired a distinctive voice and style that rival the most talented writers in Germany today. Music animates his creative writing. What he calls the instrumentation between music and language flows almost effortlessly from his experiences in the world, shaping the multifaceted textures of his writings. Readers will be struck by the author’s remarkable clarity of expression, precision, directness, and authenticity. «A poem is a poem for me only when the most ordinary things in it irritate me in the most intense ways.» Inner turbulence over the way things are, outer conflict, and the awareness of the ultimate irresolvability of pressing political concerns, everyday experience, knowledge of the classical heritage, and acute aesthetic sensibility unite to provide a unique and challenging reading experience.
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VI. Interviewing the Author


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My first interview with the writer, Thomas Kunst, occurred without knowing. I first met Thomas at the Deutsche Bücherei (German National Library) in Leipzig in the summer of 2009 while on a sabbatical leave from my home institution, the University of Arizona. I had been directed to an office to the left of the check-in desk to receive a library card. A young man processed the paperwork while an older rather intriguing man sat next to him. I assumed he was overlooking the transaction. He commented and asked, Your German is very good. Where are you from? I replied, and his interest was piqued. Upon my asking, he mentioned that he was a poet. Since I had not heard of him before, I asked if he had published a collection or two of poetry. He directed me to his website. That evening I accessed the site feeling somewhat embarrassed to see how much he had actually written. Among the titles of his work up to that point, I was especially drawn to What would I be at the window without whales (Was wäre ich am Fenster ohne Wale).

The more I got to know him, the more unique he seemed to me. He is a poet, who had grown up in and for the first nearly quarter-century of his life had known only East Germany, working in a library; indeed, even providing me with books...

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