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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry

Grauzone morgens

Durs Grünbein

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Title: Grauzone morgens
Author: Durs Grünbein
Genre: Poetry
Written: 1985-8
Length: 93 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Grauzone morgens - Deutschland
  • Written 1985-8, first published in 1988
  • Grauzone morgens was also published in the collection Von der üblen Seite (1994, currently out of print)
  • Grauzone morgens has not been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B+ : sharp, solid début

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 24/10/1988 Harold Hartung
Die Weltwoche . 16/3/1989 Michael Braun
Die Zeit . 12/8/1989 Hajo Steinert

  • "In his impressive first volume, Grauzone morgens (1988), the poetic persona of flaneur in the "Grauzonenlandschaft" of Dresden captures in poignantly unsentimental terms the perversely beautiful moments in the many-faceted ugliness of his hometown and of a society in ideological, industrial, and architectural ruin." - Neil H. Donahue, World Literature Today (Spring/1995)

  • "That first volume of poems -- Grauzone morgens ("Grey area in the morning") -- already suggests in its title not so much a flight of experimental fancy as a facing-up to the grim facts. (...) There are metaphorical pyrotechnics (he writes of "a real Caruso-aria of grey glances") and excursions into expansive, allusive free verse reminiscent of Ezra Pound, but terminal decay is rarely long out of sight." - Philip Brady, Times Literary Supplement (6/6/1997)

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Grauzone morgens was Durs Grünbein's first published collection of poems, written in what was then still East Germany (but, like much of the more challenging East German literature of the day, first published in West Germany).
       The poems are strikingly vibrant behind the pervasive surface grey-zone (suggested in the title, "Grey-zones, in the morning"). "Was alles klar wird an so einem Morgen" ("What all becomes clear on such a morning") begins one of the poems, in which he also writes:

                     In dieser

              Grauzonenlandschaft am Morgen
           ist vorerst alles ein
toter Wirrwarr abgestandener Bilder

                     (In this

              grey-zone landscape in the morning
           everything is initially a
dead jumble of stale images)
       But he is able to move beyond these appearances, not yet numbed by his surroundings (though the danger of succumbing -- and the ease with which one could allow it to happen -- is broached in several of the poems).
       Grünbein doesn't dwell on the stifling environment -- it is a constant presence, and a burden, but his energy is irrepressible. Like the look of many of his poems -- lines broken off and spread across the page, moving down in steps and jumps -- his attention flits, but not distractingly.
       The poems are concise but hardly abrupt. There is a lyricism underlying the language, but Grünbein never succumbs completely to it, emphatically pushing beyond it. There is also little cheap effect at work here (which, one imagines, he would also be adept at).
       The collection is divided into seven sections -- including one titled (in English) "Glimpses & Glances". One section is a cycle of "MonoLogische Gedichte" ("MonoLogical Poems") -- apparently only a selection. Grünbein offers a variety of approaches in the different sections, but the collection is surprisingly consistent.
       A small, strong collection.

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Durs Grünbein: Other books by Durs Grünbein under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Durs Grünbein was born in Dresden in 1962. He has won many literary prizes, including the 1995 Georg Büchner Prize.

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