#PoeticAcademic

This page shows a somewhat random collection of poems I write, most of which have not been published elsewhere (for published ones, please see Section Poems in my Selected Publications). I have taken to this form of creative writing particularly during the COVID19 pandemic, and want to share these thoughts and stories, inspired by my theoretical and political convictions, but spreading far beyond the sometimes confining realms of peer-reviewed production of knowlegde.

Following my credo “be bold, but gentle”, I hope that these in/sides, in/sights capture your interest. Let me know what you think.

Dancing the what-if

GIF of Missy Elliott
poem written in the context of the presentation “Dancing in a Museum: Missy Elliott’s Ghosts & the Politics of Para-Monumentality”
RGS | IGB conference, September 3, 2021

What if dance was our memory?
My body is an archive
My archive is my body
What if museums were nothing but ever-reproducing and thus never-ending horizons of bursting colours?

What if the museum of the future actually defied walls?
White cube after white cube after cube after cube
crushing, crunching his….story
Don’t cut yourself on the cube

Imagine a museum that makes you want to dance
Neon rainbow sprinkles leaving the finest dust on your skin
It’ll enter you, too

Colour explosion
Twerking time, hustling history
Spare a dance, space a dance, dance a space before it’s made
What would museums do if twerking was heritigized
Definition and dissolution, dizygotic twins
Many eyes, not all of them closed

Politik_er

Wer soll „die Politik“ denn eigentlich sein?
come oooon, wäre sie wirklich weiblich?
Politik pluralisieren
Politiken politisieren polemisieren polarisieren
wie viele Plurale können wir sie, es, er tragen?
Wer trägt Plurale wohin? Und wann wird aus Plural wieder Singular?
Wie formen sich Politiken aus „der Politik“? Und warum ist sie jetzt männlich?
Wenn Politik ein EinPlurihörn wär, fiel das mit dem Gendern flach
zerfließend in der eigenen Grundlosigkeit, zugespitzt auf plural-glitzrige Hörner
Angriffs_L_Fr_ust 1.0
crybaby cryboy boys cry too

published on July 14, 2021 with ZUKUNFT – DIE DISKUSSIONSZEITSCHRIFT FÜR POLITIK, GESELLSCHAFT UND KULTUR: Formationen des Politischen: Formationen des Politischen VON FRIEDERIKE LANDAU – Die Zukunft

Dancing with a g_rant

Nijmegen, Honig Complex, Folly Factory: Cindy Bakker & Marleen Sleeuwits, June 12, 2021, photo: Friederike Landau

on a train, June 15, 2021

If you want to dance with ghosts you might be dancing with yourself
How heavy are you when you dance?
You are not my grant
I am not my grant
Who’s granting?

dance dance dance
dance the dance away
grant the dance away

granted spectres
great grant grate growling
grate a ghost and she’ll still be n o t h e i r t h i n g  
your absence will be tolerated


a pregnant ghost, diving her cells into more milky no thin  gness
and then they say “there is space”
300 words including space

return to your whole
nod to the sea
my ghost will tuck you in

Playing a Different Game of Ball: Postdoc Memories

published on March 29, 2021 with Ethnographic Marginalia: Playing a Different Game of Ball: Postdoc Memories – Ethnographic Marginalia (ethnomarginalia.com)

29 March 2021

Friederike Landau

In this contribution, I trace the three years in which I worked, thought and changed within academia as a postdoc. Via a variety of poetic vignettes, I unpack feelings, thoughts and mo(ve)ments of irritation, growth, collaboration, success and failure within institutional structures of interdisciplinarity, intersectionality and different degrees of precarity. While these postdoc memories very much stem from my own lived experience, hopefully, they also stick and resonate with other academic workers such as postdocs-to-be, post-postdocs, or possibly postdoc supervisors. This poetic intervention gives insights into the working and living conditions of the many different postdoc positionalities, and aims to visibilize some of the stories, concerns and challenges that emerging academics struggle with. As part of my larger project #PoeticAcademic, I address some of the systemic challenges for postdoctoral professional development and long-term employment.


INTRO

I felt wrapped in roundness 
gently suffocated by pillows that would no longer prop properly
there weren’t any fireworks

            unless you lit up 

the scent of newness
the staleness of it, too
the label of new wearing off
beginnings becoming routines
don’t say it, starting all over
one book in a sea of pages

SHOVE

I already knew that academia was about shoveling. Shoveling a little bit of a seemingly invincible mountain; shoveling a little every day. What changed, at least temporarily, throughout my almost three years of postdoc existence, was to realize that I had a really hard time picking up that shovel on some mornings. The intellectual shovel leant against my bed, ridiculously close to me. But it seemed similarly close to impossible to ‘get up and get going’ as I used to boast during PhD days. PhD days are over, Florence and her machine whispered into my tired ear. The shovilemma took an unexpected turn when I realized I could shovel through those post-PhD days from bed. It was affect theory and me, intra-acting in bed, new materialisms and me, mattering on my mattress. Quite cozy a realization that the desk is a normalized space of compromised productivity. Get over and away from it, in beds, forests, clubs, queues to try on sneakers. Places matter with regards to how we think, but we do not matter more or less when we do not think in normalized places of academia.


BALL

Another memory I have from postdoc days. I felt like I had just gotten good at soccer when I was asked to switch to ping pong. Just as I had proudly knelt down in front of a goal, grinning at the camera with a beginner’s peace of mind, little cracking white balls flooded the field. I was confused by these tiny white balls – why was there a table and no grass, why did I need a racket and no spikes? I was now facing the precariousness of balling – balls cracking easily, clicking ball after ball, they wouldn’t stop. Trainers and co-player would just rip open another pack of tiny white balls to get out more tiny white balls, practice was not to be interrupted at any cost. They thought it was nice that I used to play soccer, but the tiny white balls did not care. Their rhythm, materiality, circulation went clickclickclick in my head longer after practice was over. My body encountered a new type of hectic, eyes scurrying over plates, screens, words, arms in need of adjustment. I wasn’t useless but I wasn’t equipped either.

RUIN

Doing a PhD is like trying to build a house. 
Doing a postdoc is like building a ruin.
stones always-already falling, failing
flailing cutting hands
sand in your fingernails dig away
yet
how would you stop?
what is a stone when there are bricks to stack?
every building begins with putting a stone on the ground, a
stone that is no brick
it is like veeery slowly moving tectonic plates hopelessly
wedged in constructive decay
a ruin might pride itself on a glorious past or might be eager
to disappear
it’s a not-quite-ending story

postdoc life in the face of ruination
what ruins whom, and who ruins what
ScholarOneManuscripts might always win, but wasn’t that an
attempt at building a house
once, too?






REPEAT ≠ BEGIN

Out of all this ballshove shoveball, ruinball, shovelruin mess, I am learning that a postdoc is not a trademarked label. It may protect you, it may exploit you, it may make you grow, flow, twist, scratch, fart. It may make you shrink, but you may also just have come through the eye of the needle. And then, it’ll be a whole new set of haystacks to deal with. Be proud to be a beginner because we’ll always be.  


This is the story of Time. Time is a little fly. Time flies.

Nijmegen, February 20, 2021

This is the story of Time. Time is a little fly. Time flies.

Time was never reasonable
Time had heard stories about friends waking up
to find an apple sunk into their flesh
She clearly wanted apple-free flight
Time wanted to use those wings to fly overboard


Time wanted to be friends with other species
knowing that she was not the only one
with wings

She had to fly to keep time going
She knew people wanted to keep track of her
she was supposed to be flying
but
sometimes, she felt unease about her purpose

Time knew there wasn’t really a place for being on time

Time is in charge of charging for own batteries
recharge-on-the-fly
even turning in circles around herself recharges her

Time knew she’d save time eventually

When Time was younger, she had wanted to be a season instead
Spring, maybe, feeling colors turning from pale to bright
Being born into a family of Times, Time sometimes wondered what it was like to grow up in a less existential family

In contrast to the other time animals, Time was romanticizing traveling only once a year
like cranes
yet she never travelled in a swarm

////////////////////////////////

Can the constitutive outside speak?

originally published November 11, 2020; Berlin
modified on January 15, 2021 in solidarity with Turkish students’ (and academics’) ongoing struggle for academic freedom and against repressive-paternalistic politics  at Boğaziçi University

you can’t be inside without me
I can’t be outside without you
you are not the system
bodies are more than the system 
defying excess is making access better   

embody [y]our difference
one day your handcuffs will turn into earth and we will grow flowers on this earth

I will be your outside, baby

this is nobody’s ground
there is no ground to society other than the one we make
who is on the ground now
we are with the ground, against the ground, we are grounding another future
would this all make sense to Nietzsche?

////////////////////////////////

UmUnwege

Berlin, December 31, 2020

Unwege
Abwägen
Umwägen
Umwege
Unwägen
wenn wäre
was wäre
wäre Ware
Wege wahren
Wege waren
Ware wägen
der Ware wegen
wahre Wege
von wegen wahren

////////////////////////////////

Can the constitutive outside speak?
Berlin, November 11, 2020


you can’t be inside without me
the it needs the other
I embody [y]our difference
yet I no longer sense my own outside
you are my out
I will be your outside, baby

breathable matter

on the ground against the ground
this would all make sense to Nietzsche 

////////////////////////////////

Sense the City
Berlin, November 2, 2020

SenseTheCity, in collaboration with Adelphi Berlin

the city of the future is multiple

full of justjustjust… just justice, full of decomposable glitter, full of rainbows connecting people’s hearts and ways of walking


the city of the future is built on ungroundable grounds, erected on precarious pillars of libertéégalitésolidarité
in the city of the future, the sun doesn’t burn, but it isn’t lukewarm
I can taste conflict in my mouth, metallic sweetness

here is a place of broken dreams, towers never built, pigeons who died prematurely
binaries are banned from this place
it’s a queer picnic where we don’t have to cover mouth and nose
we’ll have an accessible bonfire


the ghosts from before are conjured to come cuddle up with us
the city is vulnerable
it carries its wounds
resentment is fading
we nurse this city

the city of the future is a space of radical absence
the term expert will sound dinosauresque
we will be citizens again


nature might have struck back
culture might have dissolved            into the meadows
space is public by default
and the birds might have a say in it, too



////////////////////////////////

Bröckelige Tage
Nijmegen, October 18, 2020

Meine eigene Stille brennt mir in der Kehle
Ich kann nichts ohne resentment sagen
Wer lässt Raum für Fragen
Knistern sehen
Glitzernd gehen


Ich starre ein Feld aus Bleistiftstrichen an
flowing abstraction
Dumpfes fühlen – Günter Uecker ZERO


Ich deck dir einen Tisch aus Federn
Wie viel kannst du übersetzen?
Atmen zwischen Farben
Das Ballett des Lebens

Schalenfrüchte sichern ihr Überleben
Tupperdose-Revolution
Auf- und abseilen
Wie viel mehr Farbe könnten wir ertragen?
Wann verlassen wir uns, wer sind unsere Innereien?

(Zen)Trum, Umtrunk, Unmut
Keep spilling
My lighter was drained by a candle