The following post is by Amanda DeMarco.
When I moved to Berlin, I hoped blogging would help me come to terms with my new surroundings. Living abroad is an enriching experience for a poet, but it’s also traumatizing. You lose yourself to it, you fortify yourself against it, and (hopefully) you eventually negotiate a personal relationship with it.
That goes for your own writing, but also the literature you consume. I wanted a platform where I could write about the fascinating (sometimes, to an American eye, profoundly weird) book culture I’m immersed in, much of which is otherwise completely inaccessible in English.
Which is how Readux, was born. What started as a modest personal blog developed into a multi-contributor site with an editorial concept: Readux is a Berlin-based online publication with English-language reviews, interviews, and articles on German and French books and events.
When people read Readux’s about page, “literary therapy for the lingually displaced” seems to be the line that catches their eye. It’s funny, but it’s also true. Sometimes I feel as if, before I can process anything in German, I have to write about it in English.
But there’s another kind of “literary therapy for the lingually displaced,” that’s indispensable for expats like me — the network of literary blogs like 32 Poems’ that connect me to a culture I feel a part of, rather than the well-integrated outsider I am in Germany.
I recently wrote a couple of Readux entries on perceptions of race and diversity in the German literary world — they’re critical pieces, and they bring a distinctly American perspective with them — how could I have written them without understanding the situation in the US? Keeping up with the controversy surrounding Claudia Rankine’s indictment of Tony Hoagland’s “The Change” at AWP is in some ways as essential to my understanding of German literary society as reading the culture section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung each Sunday.
What I’m talking about is ballast, something I can push against, fall back on, use to check my own reactions to the constant flood of foreign media I’m swimming in. And then there’s the poetry; the longer I’m gone, the more urgently I feel the need to know the essential beating heart of American poetry right now, and the more magazines like 32 Poems mean to me.
Partly it’s an identity issue: if I’m an American among Germans, and a poet writing an awful lot about prose, I’d better understand American poetry if I want to know who I am. But it’s also about feeling at home and remaining connected to the things that made me want to engage with books in the first place. Sounds like great therapy to me.
Stop by Readux between Thursday March 31 and Sunday, April 3, 2011 to enter to win an illustrated copy of Robert Walser’s Answer to an Inquiry from Ugly Duckling Presse.
BIO: Amanda DeMarco’s poetry is forthcoming in The Believer and elsewhere. In 2009 she moved to Berlin on a Fulbright Grant. In addition to editing Readux, she writes reviews and articles on German book culture and international publishing for a variety of print and online venues. Her very first publication was in 32 Poems.