Posts by Ulrike Almut Sandig

Translation Tuesday: (More) Poems from “Dickicht,” by Ulrike Almut Sandig

had he just heard that said or / read it in the books of his friends? / what had gone wrong? had it gone wrong?



outside the shadows are dwindling

but we are so tired again.


above us the sun stands at midday

around us the thicket of high


buildings: inside couples lie close

and barely know one another.


we are there too, you and me too

on the floor. my skin cools against


yours, outside as always the heat

but I am as always too cold. are you


asleep, my friend? one clock hand stopped

dead on top of the other and someone


shouts NO and then again NO and

the shadows between us start to grow


‘write down what we had.’ we had

one or two poems, three or four weeks


the city towers as our primeval forest

and burrowed inside we two in the


yellow light of a streetlamp, between

the tree trunks cast of metal and glass.


there was no sun, for the time I was with

you, for that time the rain held us at bay


for that time everything drifted away: all

your money, my shoes, the time and my


dream of animals in a totally rain-swept zoo:


a unicorn out for the count, motionless bears

a dripping-wet peacock. high above us flew


a swarm of foxes, we hardly heard them at all.

for, whatever you say, there were two of us,

and everyone else was lost without trace.


first she took him by the hands

then she left him by the ferns


in the furthest part of the forest

alone. time passed in an instant


between the birches the heat flared

then night fell hard one more time


birds swivelled their heads to face him

slowly two-hundred and seventy degrees


but he had not marked his way back

to the glittering cities of central Europe


with a single crumb of bread.

mushrooms sprouting round his feet


the feel of fur brushing past him

out of nowhere, front and behind


shadows, above him trees creaked

the southern sky kept on turning


and kept on turning in circles or

had he just heard that said or


read it in the books of his friends?

what had gone wrong? had it gone wrong?


Read the poems in their original German here, and listen to the author read her work here.


Ulrike Almut Sandig was born in 1979 in Großenhain, Saxony, and now lives in Berlin. In 2005 she completed a degree in theology and modern indology and in 2010 she graduated from the German Literary Institute in Leipzig. Alongside various editorial activities, she has published three volumes of poetry—Zunder (2005/2009), Streumen (2007), and Dickicht (2011)—and Flamingos (2010), a collection of short stories, as well as radio plays. She has been granted residencies in Helsinki and Sydney and won numerous prizes, including the prestigious Leonce-und-Lena Prize (2009) and, most recently, the Droste Award for Emerging Talent (2012). 

Karen Leeder is an academic and writer. Her translations of German poetry have appeared in a variety of journals including Poetry Review, PN Review, Domus (Italy) and MPT. Her volume of Evelyn Schlag’s Selected Poems with Carcanet in 2004 won the Schlegel-Tieck Prize in 2005, and her translations of Durs Grünbein’s “Childhood in the Diorama” won the Times Stephen Spender prize in 2013. Her translations of Sandig poems have appeared in MPT (UK) and SPORT (New Zealand) and she received a Deutsche Übersetzerfonds award in 2014. She will translate Sandig’s Flamingos for Liverpool University Press in 2015. 

Published with permission from: Ulrike Almut Sandig, Dickicht. Gedichte. © Schöffling & Co. Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH, Frankfurt am Main 2011.

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