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Petja Heinrich on Square 01: Crosswords of Metaphors

December 5, 2008 by · 2 comments

Ellie Ivanova Ponti

Petja Heinrich is a journalist, linguist and writer. Her first book of poetry in Bulgarian is to be presented in Sofia on December 6, 2008.

She is an editor for the German-language edition of Public Republic.

I have been reading her poems published on her blog almost every day in the past year. In fact, they have been the distilled daily dose of poetry necessary for the survival of my soul amid deadlines, papers and traffic. They have given me a different interpretation of my world even though they are not genetically related to it. As I read her poem about an apple core, I think about the apple in my hand and wonder along with Petja if a human being can practically and divinely be created out of the apple’s elements. And whyT this has not come to be. Then I eat my apple to let my thoughts flow through the logic of the poem. And every day I come yet again for a handful of metaphors to make me reconsider life in Bulgarian. As a Bulgarian living in Germany, her boldness with language in a sea of foreign words encourages me to explore my own linguistic loneliness and word culture clashes.

Petja’s methaphors are unexpected. They mix together divergent worlds and perspectives and different linguistic registers: domestic meets transcendental, scientific meets trivial. God is a laundry lady who spins our shirts mercilessly clean. Cornea is a poetic term for runaway uncontrolled gazes and molecules are part of a household routine. Monsters and dolls are swept by a mother’s blue cleaning mop. Only here can I expect a single poem to bridge people, objects and relationships to make them cross over the unspoken abyss of convention. I can expect walnuts to have skin, fish to sing, toys to become predatory. All the way to Portugal, Petja’s mythic place of dream residence.

These poems are fragmentary, so they let the mind fill in the gaps with the excitement of creative discovery. As a reader, I can connect the dots and enjoy the artistic collaboration the author extends to me. And I am free with my own emotions. To be sure, the poems never explicitly endorse a feeling. If there is something missing in this universe, it is the vocabulary of sentiments. But emotions grow free as weeds in the spaces between the words. As I follow the old lady who’s lost her mind and now walks around the neighborhood stores in search of tomatoes, I can feel the warmth in Düsseldorf’s air and in the author’s quiet intentions.

I always wondered what Petja’s poetry book would turn out to be. Her works are multimedia just as her metaphors are synesthetic and evoke all senses at once. She plays not only with words and concepts, but with forms, too: she is known as the inventor of the poetic bingo and the computer folder poetry genre. Paper can be a tricky medium to translate multimedia and I was curious to know how the translation would sound. She has worked out this problem by presenting her set of poems as a clean crosswords puzzle that the reader can ponder and solve. She has named it 01, giving her readers the first square where to begin solving life’s crossroads and create their own. As they say in Bulgaria, let it flow smooth as water.

Petja Heinrich’s contributions:

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