How would someone milk a whale

Michael Stavarič: "You can't milk cows with poetry"

What can you do with poetry? It cannot be used to settle bills or perform operations. You can neither influence the climate nor bake bread with it. Poetry does not save whales, nor does it prevent death from doing its work. You can't take a selfie with poetry, you can't use it to raise queen bees, refuel your car, or charge your battery. With poetry, cartels, marble quarries, and viruses cannot be operated. Poetry goes hand in hand with a loss of income, “you can do whatever you want / no matter how many words you thread in a row / on an invisible string / regardless of how often you spin the string / around the world / and stretch and lace and lead / the Humanity rushes past through it / leaves behind severed and tattered / hardly recognizable fragments of verse / which twitch and dance like mosquito larvae in a rain barrel / rise from the depths / and sink into the depths ”.

Michael Stavaričʼs lyrical plea for poetry strings negation after negation, and the more it is said about poetry for which it is not at all useful, the clearer its meaning and the more visible its power becomes. As the language of humanity, relationships, love and pain, the perception of the body as well as nature.

Michael Stavaričʼs long poem "To break the sea remains" (Czernin 2021) hits right in the middle of present-day usefulness thinking and the omnipresent concern about the climate and social upheavals that affect artists not only after a year of pandemic. The author has invited colleagues to contribute something to this poem, so that, as Hanno Millesi writes on his website, “if not necessarily a collective work, a text has emerged that takes into account the rules of the game given by the author has been commented and expanded on within himself ”. In addition to Millesi, Isabella Feimer, Katharina J. Ferner, Andrea Grill, Nancy Hünger, Helga Locher, Martin Piekar, Petra Piuk, Helene Proißl, Tanja Raich, Barbara Rieger and Julia Willmann also wrote.

Reading this volume is good, especially in times when literature lessons are increasingly being subordinated to usefulness. Admittedly, “no end of the world can be stopped with poetry / no matter how many aphorisms / epics or sonnets you could write / play tragedy up and down / not even a manifesto could change anything”. But poetry can be "a counterpart to all monocultures". And if necessary, you can “nibble on the book cover / you could even read a book about the end of the world / maybe you will find a clue about it / how your downfall can be stopped”.