Monika Rinck is a unique poet whose poetological thinking equals her poetry itself in stature and subtlety. A poeta docta of the post-modern overdrive, she confidently combines linguistic reflections, romanticism, and popular culture, Rilke, Johnny Cash and biking, along with a dash of applied biology. Her poems are borne by a stylistic irony that from time to time salubriously breaks out into a solidly constructed pathos, in so doing healing the poem’s reader.
Monika Rinck was born in Zweibrücken in 1969. She studied religious studies, history and comparative linguistics at the University of Bochum, Berlin’s Free University, and Yale University. In artistic terms, she works in the most varied areas, having already developed a penchant for interdisciplinarity and transmedia border-crossing during her studies. Rinck is a poet and essayist, a member of the action group ‘Das Lemma’, and an actress in the fictional docu-soap Le Pingpong d’Amour.
She is also the author of begriffsstudio, a work-in-progress on the Internet (a first selection of texts was published in book form in 2001) that “archives and probes the linguistic lapses, intellectual epiphanies, strange and notable word constructions that emerge in the everyday life of the media,” as the literary critic Michael Braun put it. Around these fragments, a fresh, hybrid store of texts results, somewhere between a poetic diary and a lexicon of the present.
Rinck compares the writing of poetry to a “rhythmic ceremony”, like building a nest. For her, successful poems can be a “course of words” or a “verse that formally houses equal amounts of protection, courtship, and seduction.” Analogous to this apparent paradox in its effect, Rinck’s poetry features definitions of emotion that are presented with a sharp fervor, as well as casual, flippant sayings, coerced combinations of images and areas of meaning that approach something of a corny joke. This, along with material in foreign languages and intentionally incorrect translations, is often placed alongside a restaged Goethe-esque, holistic cadence of universal interconnectedness.
Rinck’s poems, which usually come equipped with an elastic surface, are thus highly artificial constructions that bring apparent oppositions together into a poetically productive tension – science and poetry for example in the poem ‘peonies’. These constructions transform metaphors into concepts and concepts back into metaphors.
In her poetological comments on the high-powered expert Internet portal neuedichte, Rinck writes about the process of constructing or forming a new poem: “Bringing an idea into a well-grounded, yet mobile form that also encompasses the outer margins of the idea, open to the unsayable, enriched by still mute experience, can mean the guarantee for a successful poetic creation. Because then the poem thinks out the passage along with you, where concepts or terms once found themselves before they were concepts or terms, before conceptual access, gifted with nothing but an urgency, a fixation, still quite open and floating, but as such no less urgent.”
Nonetheless, her sonorously sensual language worlds, open to all directions, take on forms that could hardly be any tighter. At the same time, Rinck’s writing is repeatedly refreshed by a humor that sometimes drifts towards the salacious, then again hitting a delicate or tragic note.
A constant that is difficult grasp in her poetry is the pony that rides through her texts: a shaggy, defiant bearer of meaning, a prehuman presence, a small, mocking Freudian or Jungian symbol, perhaps? But at the same time, the personification of a lover, or the lover, a somehow familiar loneliness in the other: the good spirit of the lyricizing cowgirl.
Translated by Brian Currid
feelings at windows
VERZÜCKTE DISTANZEN. Gedichte. zu Klampen Verlag: Springe 2004.
BEGRIFFSSTUDIO 1996-2001. edition sutstein: Berlin 2001.
NEUES VON DER PHASENFRONT. Über unproduktive Phasen. Ein Theoriecomic. b_books Verlag: Berlin 1998.
Auf kurze Distanz - Die Autorenlesung. Thomas Böhm (ed.). Tropen Verlag 2003.
LYRIK VON JETZT - 74 Stimmen. B. Kuhligk and J. Wagner (ed.). Dumont Verlag 2003.
FEUER BITTE: Berliner Gedichte über die Liebe. Dahlemer Verlagsanstalt 2003.
Monika Rinck’s poems have appeared in many German literary magazines. Some were published in an English translation by Nicholas Grindell in shearsman (56 and 58 / 2003).
Comments by Rinck.
/>The poet reading live.
1. Preis im Wettbewerb junger Autoren Prenzlauer Berg LYRIK 2001
Georg K Glaser Förder-Preis 2004