04 May 2005

Reading in London: HILDE DOMIN

A reading

On 3 May 2005, Hilde Domin came from Heidelberg to London to give a reading of her poetry at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies. She read a small number of poems, each twice, which was very effective, and some translations into English were also read out, but most of the time was spent telling her life-story. Domin emphasized her biography not only as a context for the poetry, but as a crucial text in itself, and the tension between the two remained unresolved. The poems read were accessible on two hearings, without being exhausted in that encounter alone. But they by no means point to the biography (or any historical situation or circumstance), and indeed would have been better for not being freighted with it.
Domin referred to the range of poetry she has always read, in many languages, and also to producing her poems instead of children - a rather odd reflection from a 95-year-old. At this time of Second World War 60th anniversaries and cultural offerings such as the film Der Untergang, Domin's focus on the exile enforced by the Nazi era seems of a piece with contemporary cultural memory, but it is not a convincing way into reading the poetry.

The poetry collections

Nur eine Rose als Stütze: Gedichte. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1959
Rückkehr der Schiffe: Gedichte. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1962
Hier: Gedichte. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1964
Ich will dich: Gedichte. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1970
Der Baum blüht trotzdem: Gedichte. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1999