Poetry News

Translator Jonathan Larson Interviews Friederike Mayröcker

By Harriet Staff
Friederike Mayröcker

Oh, goodness gracious: BOMB issue #142 features an interview with none other than Friederike Mayröcker! Translator Jonathan Larson, whose translation of Mayröcker's Scardanelli is forthcoming from The Song Cave, called up the extraordinarily prolific poet and writer in her Vienna home. Here's a bit from their conversation:

JL Since we’re talking over the phone, I want to ask about the figure of the telephone itself in your work. It appears again and again, and suddenly with a voice on the other end—of a loved one, a friend, an acquaintance, or maybe even a stranger, such as right now. How does the telephone relate to the written text? Sometimes it seems as if the phone were starting to speak on its own.

FM No, I don’t think it’s like that exactly. When I’m on the phone, whether with friends or with people I don’t know, I immediately write things down, if they tell me something noteworthy. Often these are things that just interest me, or sentences I haven’t heard before, that are still unfamiliar to me, and I make notes to remember them. The phone is very important to me for that reason. 

JL Looking over your many works and long career, there’s just so much to talk about. These last books—étudescahier, and fleurs—show the serial development of new writing forms, how they extend and expand, and then are trimmed back again, from a guiding idea. The first sentence of each chapter of your book Still life comes to mind, too: “The book must always start from the beginning again, says Samuel, or be continued.” How do you decide on turning points that close one work and open another? Is it a decision, or is it even more immediate than that?

Find out by reading the full interview at BOMB.


Originally Published: January 16th, 2018