Price: U.S. $10.95
Series No.: 221
ISBN: 978-1-55713-435-6, Pages: 104
German Literature, Poetry
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The German Expressionist writer August Stramm (1874–1915) began his career as a postmaster aboard luxury liners, traveling between Hamburg and New York, where he made long stays. "[A]round the year 1912, literature overtook him like a sickness…. A demon awoke in him,” as his daughter, Inge, put it. Instead of his previous romantic poetry, he began to write poems and plays in "a strange new style." Despairing because no one would publish him, he was on the verge of destroying this work when his wife, Else, a romance novelist, suggested that he contact Herwarth Walden, the editor of the magazine Der Sturm.
Der Sturm was noted for publishing major international artists of the day (Oskar Kokoschka, Pablo Picasso, Franz Marc, and Wassily Kandinsky), Italian Futurist F. T. Marinetti, and French poet Guillaume Apollinaire. Walden sought a German poet who could compare to these celebrities. Over the next 16 months, he encouraged Stramm to write the 62 poems for which he is best known.
Stramm's influence was enormous, particularly on Dadaists such as Kurt Schwitters and experimentalists such as Gerhard Rühm and Paul Celan. The 32 poems in this book are his largest collection in English.
In World War I, he served as a Captain in the Prussian Army, but had few illusions of patriotism. "We have to go through with it, however much we condemn the war." He was killed in 1915 in what is today Belarus.