Writer in Residence 2007

Jan Volker Röhnert Jan Volker Röhnert

In 2007, the award-winning German poet and writer Jan Volker Röhnert came to Aston to hold student workshop and to read from his works. He has written about the renowned German poet Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, has translated from both French and English, and has published a number of poetry collections, e.g. Metropolen (2007), Sonnenquartette (2006), Die Hingabe, endloser Kokon (2005).

In one of the workshops, a group of 1st year students created a back-translation of Jan’s poem “Nach Kenneth Koch”, inspired by Kenneth Koch’s poem “A big clown-face-shaped clowd“:

Nach Kenneth Koch Einer Wolke großes Clowngesicht

Flog eben hier vorbei

Ohne daß Dich irgend jemand sah.

Für eine Wolke ziemlich wohlgebaut

Blieben dir gerad ein paar Minuten

um zu leben.

Du sprachst etwas, oder es schien mir so:

Weit aufgesperrter Mund, der sich

Mit einer engelsgleichen Wolke unterhält

Die eilig vor ihm in die Höhe steigt.


Im Wagen der grünen Metrolinie, unter

dem Wort Wolke saßt

du engelsgleich und last

in einem Buch und sahst

mich an als ich lange am

Wort Wolke hing,

bis die Station erschien.

 by Jan Volker Röhnert

After Kenneth Koch  A great clown-face of a cloud

was just floating by,

without anyone even seeing you.

For a cloud you were quite substantial

but only a few minutes left to live.

You said something, or so it seemed:

wide-open mouthed, you spoke with

an angelic cloud rising swiftly up above.


In the green line subway car

you sat angelic, beneath the CLOUD

reading page by page,

I saw your fleeting gaze,

as I sat fixed on CLOUD above

‘til the train came to a stop.

by Jan Volker Röhnert

 translated by LG1001-2


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