Two Poems from Anja Kampmann

The following two texts were written by Anja Kampmann and translated by Anne Posten. They come from the collection titled Der Hund ist immer hungrig (2021) (The Dog is Always Hungry). Hear Anja reading “to aiken cura” and discussing her writing leading up to 2023 European Literature Night on Trafika Europe Radio.

Aiken Cura was an Argentinian polo horse who died in 2006 after an accident in the Argentine Open. His owner, Adolfo Cambiaso, had him cloned using a piece of his skin, thus producing the first cloned horse. The procedure was done using somatic cell nuclear transfer, the same technique used to clone Dolly, the first cloned sheep.

to aiken cura


you still belong
whether or not you know what happened to you
the question of the edge from which one comes
dear bulblet, dear piece of your own skin
I don’t know if you know you’re now you-you you-you you
a wonder. your end after the fall
no end. annulled by a pipette
I think myself into the middle of your what—in the stall
eight times the same pale nostrils horsehead and leg
like a hallucination on straw
with no manger and no starlight
leave it—then you’re in front of the camera
going going you know eight times
and on the field it makes no difference
like in war where eight soldiers become one
as they fall                               yes I
saw you. I saw you thundering fast
far from aunt dolly on the polo field
from microscope pipette and patience
pays off. and the medal faithful friend
who accepted it? the forebear
the piece of breastskin
or the descandantant antant-antant-antant
(listen, it already sounds like a gallop)
with its beautiful pallor? I’m asking
who stood there
was it you
where you there
on that day with the medal?



Ah dear descendantant

and your gallop is heading towards what?


an aiken cura


du wirst besessen immer noch
und ob du weißt was dir geschah
die frage nach dem rand aus dem man kommt
du zwiebelchen, du stück aus deiner haut
ich weiß nicht ob du weißt du bist nun du-du du-du du
was wundert. dein ende nach dem sturz
kein ende. wurd per pipette annuliert
ich denk mich in die mitte deiner was- im stall
acht mal dieselbe blässe nüstern pferdekopf und bein
wie eine halluzination auf stroh
wo keine krippe und kein sternenlicht
doch lass- dann trittst du vor die kamera
im schwung im schwung du weißt acht mal
und auf dem feld macht das keinen unterschied
wie krieg wo acht soldaten einer werden
wenn sie fallen            ich sah
dich ja. ich sah dich schnell und donnernd
weit entfernt von tante dolly auf dem polofeld
aus mikroskop pipette und geduld
wurd gold. und die medaille treuer freund
wer nahm sie an? der ahn
das hautstück brust
oder der nachfahrfahr fahrfahr-fahrfahr-fahrfahr
(du hörst, es klingt schon wie galopp)
mit seiner schönen blässe? ich frag
wer stand denn da
warst du’s
warst du nun da
an dem medaillentag?


ach lieber nachfahrfahr

und dein galopp hält worauf zu?

Fort McMurray, in the Canadian province of Alberta, is the world’s second-largest fracking area. The drinking water there is tainted with chemicals. The neighboring Six Nations Reservation has no access to drinking water, despite the fact that Nestlé bottles millions of liters of water a day from the territory. Michael Beamish and Jasmin Herold report on fracking in Alberta in the documentary Dark Eden.

the dog is always hungry

sometimes I think of his dog
michael’s, from alberta. not long ago
he was x-rayed. the bullet behind the
barrel came from the res. huh. rough
manners. there’s no water. huh. the only
good stuff’s bottled by a swiss
company. the dog they told me
nearly lost its mind. when its master
back weeks after the operation.
tumors. huh. that big. sometimes I think
of the lakes they talked of.
fracking water whole regions
drenched with chemicals. warning shots
aimed at the sky time and again so that
the fowls don’t land. no, better
anything that creeps or crawls. the dog
is always hungry. the area dredged
the size of england. huh. the dog is always hungry.

Anja Kampmann is a widely acclaimed poet and novelist. She is the author of High as the Waters Rise for which she has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Mara Cassens Prize for the best debut novel written in German and for which she received nominations for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and the German Book Prize.The book was also a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award. 

Kampmann’s most recent publications are the poetry collection Der Hund ist immer hungrig (2021) which was recommended by the German Academy for Language and Literature and awarded the Günter Kunert Literature Prize for Poetry in 2022 – and her praised translation of Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic. Kampmann was most recently a fellow of the German Literature Fund, and is currently working on her second novel, forthcoming in 2024, as well as her first piece of music. The Bavarian Academy of fine arts rewarded her with the Rainer Malkowski prize for “(…) a voice in which the language of poetry is always palpable, even in prose.” 

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