note of absence
AFTER E. H. *
we've stopped reading the paper. we're waiting for s/thing to happen. we've locked out the sun watch this tower of days collapse: fever. some nights we smile into our pillows. our sleep is full of rain.
*published in volume VII (Winter 2020) of Déraciné Magazine
an application an insurance proposal two tax assessment notices some international bank account numbers you look defeated she said test patterns across both of her eyes this quavering frame this closedown my own lack of resolution listening to water drip through the ceiling
all things reliquial like the word gun wale. stillest of fade-outs.
sat w/ feet on sill thought man have you painted your self into a corner. cumber some sadness where to put it? morning sun bright cold clinical | symmetry of ascent come down a cheap-ass taunt.
*First published in RIVISTA Magazine
PORT OF CALL *
our citizen of no where must now hit the silk will say though from her self's terra nullius your no horse town et cetera leaves ketamine & free jazz passing out w/ the lights on the water run ning an other knock on the door
*First published in RIVISTA Magazine
CHEAP & CLEAN
another need, another circle. another fall, perhaps an accident. (home statistically, et cetera. a scattering, an angry surge.
Max Henninger is a writer and translator based in Berlin. His poetry has appeared in journals and zines including Datableed and Spam. He recently released a 60-minute cassette tape of poetry and music with German experimental music duo poesi fysik. IG: @tower_of_days
A question I often ask myself! I come from prose and didn’t begin to read or write poetry in earnest until about five years ago. If you had told me around 2017 that I would soon be devoting a fair amount of my time to poetry I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Friends of mine in Berlin run a performance space called the Garage. It’s literally a garage on Karl-Marx-Straße, one of the busier streets in the Neukölln neighborhood. I went there one night to pick something up while UK poet Sean Bonney, who had moved to Berlin a few years before, was reading from what later became his final collection, Our Death. I was in a bad mood and didn’t really talk to anyone, though I did listen to Sean read. A few days later, certain lines from his poems were still going around my head. I decided to contact him and we met for beers. We became friends. He showed an interest in my writing and encouraged me to try my hand at poetry, in addition to pointing me to other poets he suggested I familiarize myself with. When I had a few poems of my own, he invited me to read with him at Loophole, another Neukölln venue. People liked it and it was great fun. That got the ball rolling. A number of things impressed me about Sean’s poetry and spurred me to try to write poetry myself. His delivery was a big part of it. Very musical, very jazzy. Also, the conciseness and force of his imagery and his irreverent humor (often underappreciated). But mostly the way he found a uniquely incisive language for his experiences and convictions. He was always a deeply political poet. It seemed to me there was simply no better way to articulate certain experiences than the kind of poetry he wrote.
How long do you usually spend on a single poem?
It varies. The first poems I wrote and published were written in one sitting, with virtually no subsequent revisions. I often find that if the first draft doesn’t work, more or less, I can revise as much as I like; I’ll never be satisfied with that particular poem. I tend to cut my poems down quite severely when revising, and often there’s so little left by the end of that process that I tend to just discard it. Though I do revise more than I used to these days. I may may go back to a poem for months.
Who are you currently reading?
I try to keep up with what’s published in UK journals and zines such as Fieldnotes, Datableed and Spam, also Tripwire from California. I like the work of Lotte L.S., also the work of Sara Larsen. Dimitra Ioannou is wonderful. I’m halfway through Festivals of Patience, Kim Stefans’ translation of Rimbaud’s verse poems, published by Kenning Editions. The last collection I read was Rob Halpern’s Hieroglyphs of the Inverted World, also published by Kenning Editions. Really good. As for earlier poets, I read a fair amount of Kenneth Rexroth’s work over the Christmas holidays and was very taken by it. His work moves me to tears.
What poets do you take inspiration from?
Aside from the poets I’ve already mentioned and in particular Sean Bonney, who remains far and away my most important inspiration, the Beats were very important when I was getting started. This was partly because they’d been an influence on Sean in his early years and he was rereading them when I befriended him. A list of poets I keep going back to would have to include Stephen Jonas, Diane di Prima, Amiri Baraka, David Henderson, Gary Snyder and Ed Dorn. But there are many others.
Where does a poem usually start for you?
A sense of urgency. Once the poem is done, I can usually identify the experiences that went into it and the process by which those experiences coalesced into something unitary that required or seemed to me to require expression. But it starts with something more undefined and the strong sense that I need to work it out now because I may not get another chance. I never know when it’s going to happen.
What poem should I read my daughter for bed tonight? (She’s 7 years old by the way!)
“I” from “A Bestiary” by Kenneth Rexroth.
Do you have any other projects you want us to know about?
I’m very happy that Mychael Zulauf of Akinoga Press wants to publish a series of prose poems I wrote last year called “Poems for Two Voices.” That won’t be coming out until late 2023 or early 2024 though. I’ve been working on a new cycle of poems called “the future.” One of them will appear in the journal Strukturriss this summer. I’m trying to find publishers for a novel called Strange Dreams, a novella called Calendarium and a collection of short stories called Sudden Death. I’ve also been writing a series of very short stories that play around with science fiction tropes. I think of them as science fiction satires. They’ve proven a good way of processing the insanity of our historical conjuncture. I certainly have a lot of fun writing them.