Canada Scholarship

Poet of the Bundestag: Pro & Contra

I, Mint Mladen Gladic:

HAn initiative in favor of the “Parliamentary Poet” office. They already have a prominent defender: “Parliament,” said Alexander Kluge of the Deutschlandfunk website, “is our legislature. It is the essence of our republic. And it would be good for laws to be sung too. And that is the purpose of poetry.”

Now the 89-year-old tall man is a rare embodiment of everything that doesn’t gossip about the zeitgeist today. When the words “poetry” and “politics” sound together, this prevailing zeitgeist imagines at best “creative artists” drawing portions of state funding into government agencies. Perhaps the completely inaccurate recitation of the text of the national anthem, especially in sports facilities bearing the name of insurance companies: “A drink in the light …”.

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The website of Parliamentary Poet or Parliamentary Poet does not look entirely venerable, quite different from the stated model, the Parliamentary Poet of Canada. The little word “holder” resonates with laurel, that sign of the timeless fame that poetry once began to win — and sing about. But political fame is called into question, while criticism always seems welcome and easy to utter. Above all, criticism of “politics”, which the German Michel still does not want to do much, as long as they let him sleep peacefully only at night, tax moderately, and allow himself to be properly insulted – on Twitter, Facebook, very closely in the channel Telegram, or as it was previously in business.

The fear of contact that arises when talking about poetry and politics is not accidental: because this sounds like praise, in modern German: propaganda, manipulation, bleaching. For example, after the shirt-sleeved desk of Günther Grass, who wrote the slogans of the SPD and was filled with pipe smoke. Or after “Burka” and “Burgundy” – the unsuccessful attraction of Thor Kunkel in favor of the variant for Germany.

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Poster incentive from the 2017 AfD National Council campaign

Now, the initiative of Simon Buchholz, Dmitri Kapetelmann and Mithu Sanyal is in no way related to party declarations, which – for example Austria – are increasingly based on completely different representatives of the writers. It is, however, a matter of praising the rulers, since all power in Germany stems from the people and this people is represented in Parliament.

Hans Hack's artwork

Hans Hack’s artwork “The Population” of the German Bundestag

Quelle: Image Alliance / dpa

There are reasons why compliments sound suspicious to us today and yesterday at that. In praise of the ruler, he was directed not only at what the individual sovereign had done and failed to do, but also at what he personified: the eternity of the position which he only held. Royal emblems, oil-painted portraits, somewhat stylized hair: all this was part of a logic according to which the human, natural, and mortal body of the human king approaches the immortal and immortal political body of the king. Of course, that changed bloodily in Europe in 1789 with the French Revolution and the theft of the monarchy by the guillotine: “Le Roi est mort, vive la République!”.

But even this needed a place and embodiment: Edmund Burke, the great conservative, contemporary and opponent of the revolution, spoke of a “cannibal republic.” Democracy is the “snatching of the flesh” over the royal body, as political scientist Philip Manu recently described it. For he places Parliament in the empty seat of the king, where he himself is merely the embodiment of the new king: the people are understood to be eternal and holy, while their representatives no longer alternate in the course of their lives or of coronation and abdication, but according to a fixed electoral process that also follows a fixed rhythm. Another witness to the revolution, Abi Sis, turned metaphorically when he wrote that the social body creates its own head with Parliament, but also asserted that Parliament has now replaced the headless king, hardly without the sovereignty of the people. Maybe.

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Military strategist Edward Luttwak

Germany seems beheaded these days, the revolutionary splendor of Parliament has faded, and the memory that embodies us all has eluded our perceptiveness. At a time when the executive branch often bypassed the legislature, and activists stumbled in the corridors of the Reichstag while berating representatives of the people. So why not make this important memory more tangible, turning it into “feeling, seeing, tasting, finding metaphors” in a poet’s song in Parliament.

No, Mark Richwin says:

Yes, it is always wise to look abroad and draw inspiration from other countries and other customs. And no, we don’t need a specific person from the state poet laureateWho Reads Poetry at Special Parliamentary Events: Haiku to Budget Debate? A sonnet for summer vacation? We already have the folk song of the Committee on Economics and Energy (“Beautiful Country”) – on the campaign green. The German Bundestag does not need postmodern court singers who draw poetry from parliamentary bodies and the theater of theses from debates.

Why don’t we have poets in the Bundestag? Simon Buchholz, Mithu Sanyal and Dimitri Kapitelmann ask earnestly in the Zeitung Süddeutsche. Writers can stand up and vote themselves, politically alert, and even humorous books legitimize them, but no: they propose a parliamentary poet based on the Canadian model. What they are specifically asking for is a scholarship. State-funded drawings in which the writer is supposed to bring “the sensual world of feeling, seeing, tasting, finding metaphors, and synesthesia to the Bundestag”.

At this point, at the latest, the intervention becomes romantic. “There are things we cannot talk about in the language of statistics, analytics, and the majority of factions,” Buchholz, Kapitelmann, and Sanial wrote, as if they wished to greet Novalis on his 250th birthday. “If there were no more numbers and numbers / Are the keys to all creatures / If They would sing or kiss like this/Know more of what they have learned deeply…then a secret word flies away/The whole mistake away.”

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Friedrich von Hardenberg, better known as Novalis

Work scenes in world literature

The present approach appears to be Novalis’ approach to the awakened students of Waldorf: “The chief task of the incumbents will be to speak to members of Parliament for parliamentary speeches, political debates, and currents in poetry or prose.” What is actually meant is “irritation, as a disruptive agent”. For example, by “luminous writing or light fixtures on the facade of the Bundestag”, “through flyers, postcards, books” – this sounds very much like the paranoid German and social studies course that makes the Bundestag the scene of his project days: “And not Literature must necessarily be just literature that does the job, it can also be music.”

Let’s leave the expressive dance of the budget committee (or the sports committee? Both of them have to change themselves!) to the truly independent artists, please. At the last moment at the point where Buchholz, Capitelmann, and Saniel promote “healing” and “reconciliation,” one becomes suspicious. After all, it is not the job of literature to ensure social cohesion! This does not mean that literature cannot speak politically. But with the feudal system, it left behind the official representative mandate of the state; With the Age of Enlightenment, he has reached a stage of maturity and independence from which you must never retreat.

According to Buchholz, Kapitelmann and Sunil, the position of parliamentary poet should be rotating and be an expression of our diverse society, and this point was also emphasized, it would be “finally something that the AfD must bear”. This is a strangely quirky idea of ​​acting alongside chosen acting. Kind of a city clerk job in Parliament. Because, with all due respect, writers can take up the position of poetry at any time. Like Rainald Goetz, you can sit in the runway. The fact that Goetz has not yet published his great novel in the Bundestag shows that the idea of ​​rhetorical intervention is not so straightforward from a literary point of view, if it is to be good.

Writer Raynald Goetz

Writer Raynald Goetz

Quelle: Image Alliance / dpa

Roger Willemsen sat at Hohes Haus for a year declaring in his annual Minutes in the Bundestag of the same name that there is not a single poetic moment here. If there is a little poetry in parliamentary blocs and meetings, one can regret it. However, one does not wish for more poetry to enter the language of Parliament. We need no more explanatory rhetoric, i.e. “good keta” laws, which are called exactly that. Political communication must remain political communication, and interpretation takes place in other disciplines of society. Arranged by genre, one can find it boring, but how awkward can the chances of performing parliamentary poetry be?

We need publishers who publish politics-related literature because writers of all faiths write it, not because these writers have a state-funded grant to somehow annoy the Bundestag through poetry. If this poetic attitude must come from the parliamentary debates themselves, and not from the return of the court jester. Pushing literature into the role of the mascot of the Bundestag is a very naive romance of Novalis.

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