What is the opposite of art

The opposite of art

Why Friedrich Hirschl's “Flussliebe” doesn't leave a lasting impression

From Jens Zwernemann

Discussed books / references

For every poet it has to be like the journey between Scylla and Charybdis - the question of how understandable or how encoded you express yourself. If language and content are too condensed, you run the risk of being attacked as an elitist representative of neo-Celanian, highly hermetic poetry, if you are too clear, the poems immediately appear trivial, superficial and (horribiledictu) tasty. Friedrich Hirschl, who has now published his seventh volume of poetry with “Flussliebe”, did not seem to have made the decision between these two extremes particularly difficult: The 98 poems collected in “Flussliebe” are so lucid in terms of both language and content that one can follow them the very first reading. The mostly only about eight (short) line texts follow a haiku-like scheme: An observation of nature, which is often metaphorical, is followed by a phrase in the form of a general statement or a (supposedly) surprising interpretation of what is presented above. At first it sounds as if it could be a potentially ingenious poetic scheme; At Hirschl, however, it leads to texts like those from the writing workshop of an adult education center:

Snow washing

Heaven took
the dirty snow washing

Unfortunately, he didn't think so
to the sensitive material
when he chose the full cycle

The conclusions that follow the observations made at the beginning are only occasionally really surprising, seldom ingenious and never profound. On the contrary: with their astonishingly one-dimensional imagery and their strangely inexperienced personifications - who would have thought that someone could seriously write about “Mr. Winter” and “the queen [sun]” on “her cloud throne”? - Hirschl's poems testify to an almost childlike lyrical naivete, which in its simplicity also has something thoroughly disarming:

Night face

With many star eyes
watch us
so that nothing escapes him

His mouth laughs at the same time
the crescent moon

In the case of the poems from “Flussliebe” there is practically no need for interpretation - due to the lack of depth - and should there ever be a text whose content is not immediately clear, the heading will certainly provide immediate clarification. There is no doubt that Hirschl's poems are certainly well-intentioned - but as we all know, that is all too often the opposite of art.