Thick of It by Ulrike Almut Sandig, trans. by Karen Leeder
The poems of Ulrike Almut Sandig are at once simple and fantastic. This new collection finds her on her way to imaginary territories. Thick of It charts a journey through two hemispheres to “the center of the world” and navigates a “thicket” that is at once the world, the psyche, and language itself. The poems explore an urgently urban reality, but that reality is interwoven with references to nightmares, the Bible, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes—all overlaid with a finely tuned longing for a disappearing world. The old names are forgotten, identities fall away; things disappear from the kitchen; everything is sliding away. Powerful themes emerge, but always mapped onto the local, the fractured individual in “the thick of it” all. This is language at its most crafted and transformative, blisteringly contemporary, but with a kind of austerity, too. By turns comic, ironic, skeptical, nostalgic, these poems are also profoundly musical, exploiting multiple meanings and stretching syntax, so that the audience is constantly kept guessing, surprised by the next turn in the line.