Bohinjsko Jezero

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Red wine kisses at Lake Bohinj
last week’s résumé

within the chest
farewell
tomorrow

between the toes
gravel
of today.

© Katja John, 2015

translated from German

Bohinjsko Jezero

Rotweinküsse am Bohinjsee
Resümee der letzten Woche

in der Brust
der Abschied
morgen

zwischen den Zehen
der Kies
von heute.

© Katja John, 2015

2015-07-17 17.41.05

The Bull of Hochstadt: Poetry-Fever

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Hochstadter Stier – The Bull of Hochstadt

When I signed up for the “Hochstadter Stier” (“The Bull of Hochstadt”) in November, I did not know what to expect. But it seemed to be exciting. Even better, the “Bull” did perfectly fit in with my planned trip to Germany.

So what is this “Bull”? – The “Hochstadter Stier” is an annually held poetry workshop (Anton G. Leitner Verlag/publisher of DAS GEDICHT). Its highlight is a public event at the Gasthof Schuster in Weßling/Hochstadt where the participants get the chance to present their poems.

Hochstadter Stier

Last weekend I found myself together with 23 other participants in Weßling/Hochstadt (Germany). We read, we ate, we listened, we laughed, enjoyed, and worked – while dwelling upon this year’s theme “love and praise” under the guidance of two great mentors Anton G. Leitner and Hellmuth Opitz.

It was a wonderful weekend filled not only with incredibly diverse poems, but also with enthusiasm, amazing people and inspiring discussion.

Luckily, the competition did not poison the amazing atmosphere. Quite the contrary. We encouraged each other and rhapsodized upon listening to some of the poems.

Going weak at my knees

It was my first participation at a poetry workshop and it also was the first time for me to publicly perform one of my poems. Unlike the writing of a poem, performing also requires attention to voice modulation and pace. Despite good preparation at the workshop, last Saturday night my knees turned to jello while performing my poem “wertgeschätzt” (“valued/appreciated”).

Performing at Hochstadter Stier

The next day a video analysis showed that even after living in Canada for almost five years now, I still speak German with a Southern German dialect. I also was surprised that I appeared to be far less nervous than I had actually felt during the performance.

Winners

Amongst the winners chosen by the audience and the jury are Judith Hennemann from Frankfurt, Karsten Paul from Nuremberg and Silke Loser from Paderborn, and also Jo Lenz from Berlin, whose poem “Mächtige Du” (“Mighty You”) has experienced the most courageous transformation during the course of the workshop. From High German to Berlin German dialect. Jo Lenz is also an avid blogger with German stories  and German poetry.

Even though I did not take a trophy home myself, I enjoyed the whole experience very much.

The compliment of a lady from the audience who approached me after the event was a special “praise” treat to me. She told me that my poem “wertgeschätzt” (“valued/appreciated”) had touched her and that it took the words right out of her mouth –  and also she had voted for me and my poem. I very much appreciated her “valuation“ and felt like a winner right there.

You can find me in one of the pictures here:

http://www.dasgedichtblog.de/rueckblick-hochstadter-stier-2014/2014/01/29/#1

Read in German here: http://katercarson.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/hochstadter-stier-im-lyrik-fieber/

The Winter’s Beau

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I hardly see
through my lashes frozen
the winter’s beau
and ceaseless devotion
walking through heavy snow
deep to the knee.

Have left the shoveled
path sometime somewhere

Harsh wind dries cold the air
and I hear the world muffled
under my woollen hat. –

All of a sudden without a sound
red blood drops bright
onto the snow white
covered ground
where once a way
could be found
Yet, a tone I hear from my chest
and I want to rest my breath and stay.

That’s when I let
go of time and cause
never mind the flaws
of my life
if I only survive
no more
as before.

© Katja John, 2014

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Halloween Napkin Stories

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Today I am halloweenishly happy and all excited. Why? Because I found my Halloween napkin story at Alternative Grounds Café. Yes, a napkin story.

Let me go back in time a few months. In June, a friend of mine had drawn my attention to a Tiny Owl Workshop project. They were looking for aspiring and emerging writers in Brisbane, Leeds and Toronto to submit Halloween flash fiction. 30 stories would be printed on napkins and distributed through cafés in those three cities.

How cute is that? – I thought. What an amazing idea! – I thought, and started scribbling. Required was a Halloween short story with a limit of no more than 300 words.

I was giddy with excitement when I found out, only a few weeks later, that I was amongst the 30 chosen authors.
http://tinyowlworkshop.com/2013/07/24/halloween-napkin-stories-toronto-authors/

Now, as Halloween is coming up, you can actually wipe your mouth and fingers with my story. And here it is – my Halloween flash fiction “Pumpkin Pie”: http://instagram.com/p/fXRbnlPvKe/

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On the lovely Tiny Owl Workshop blog you can find more pictures of napkin stories: http://tinyowlworkshop.com/2013/10/27/halloween-napkin-stories-gallery/

The napkins are designed by Creative Emporium and have spooky skeleton fingers printed on the back.

NapkinStoriesAltGrounds

Did you know that in German you can easily form really long words? This would be “Halloween Napkin Stories” in German: Halloweenpapierserviettengeschichten! 

Katja John, 2013

The Door

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I had a dream last night
about you
standing on the other side
of another room
talking
But as soon
as your eyes met mine
somewhere at the open door
between us
you started walking –
towards me

In my dream
I was a glass figurine
And by your hand’s touch
that I wanted so much
I became to be
a fragile me

There in the dim shine
of a room lit at night
you held me tight
until your heartbeat was mine
Warm and caressed
in your embrace
I felt embarrassed –
I had not known before
you could walk through that open door.

© Katja John, 2013

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Food Court

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German is my native language, the language I grew up with, the language I speak at home. German is also the language I usually write in.

However, it happens more and more often that instinctively I use English words. The poem FOOD COURT originates from one of these “English moods”. It is the first poem I have written in English and kind of liked the result. And guess where I was sitting when I wrote it…

FOOD COURT

two hundred tables
and even more chairs
so many people
and nobody cares
heels clicking and walking
mouths eating and talking
loud fog of voices
disgusting noises

bright plastic light
grabs your solitude tight.

© Katja John, 2012

2013-10-08 12.16.55

About me and Carson the Cat

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Who am I? The eternal question…

I rose from dusty, authority-grey mountains of files and ventured out into the wide world beyond.

Shortly after my 30th birthday, I left Germany and moved to Canada. Far away from home, I finally rediscovered myself and my old love for poetry. I had lost both somewhen between adolescence and everyday-work.

Even as a child I was fascinated by poetry. Until today, I feel a bit sentimental when I think of one of my first poems. Regenbogenbäume (Rainbow Trees) – very childlike, dreamy and yet somehow grown-up.

Along with other texts on ruled or squared paper, this poem is sitting in a dark box. Scribbled words, letters in calligraphy, typed stories and hand written poems awaiting daylight…

My dearly-loved husband and friends have encouraged me not to hide my scribblings in the dark of a box. Which is why I dedicate this blog to poems and short stories in German and English.

And who is Carson?

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A few months ago Carson the Cat came into my life. He is a patient listener and uncritical critic to my writing. And because I love Carson and Carson likes my poems and the internet loves cats – this blog is dedicated to him as well.

You can find Carson’s German sibling, Kater Carson, here:

http://katercarson.wordpress.com

by Katja John