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PN Review 276
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This interview is taken from PN Review 272, Volume 49 Number 6, July - August 2023.

in conversation with Mara-Daria Cojocaru Jamie Osborn
Mara-Daria Cojocaru is a German poet and philosopher, resident in London. Among the awards she has won across her four books of poetry, Anstelle einer Unterwerfung (Instead of Subjugation, 2016) and Buch der Bestimmungen (Field Notes, 2021), are the German Prize for Nature Writing, the Poetry Prize of the Mondseeland and the Alfred Gruber Prize.

The following conversation was conducted via email between May and June 2022.

Jamie Osborn: Your poems deal with extinction, animal cruelty, the lack of understanding between species. But I think what first sparked my interest was your sense of humour. The opening poem in your book Anstelle einer Unterwerfung, ‘An die Nachgeborenen’, takes its title from a Brecht poem and has something of his earnestness. Yet there’s a playfulness in the way you treat the catalogue of the poem and the tolerating of anthropomorphism. It’s a dynamic I see again in the archness of that immortal cat in ‘Apropos Herr Goselmanu’, I think?

MDC: I am always greatly relieved when people find humour in my poems. You are right that most of my poetry takes its starting point in the confrontation with pretty drastic, sad or stupefying aspects of human–animal relations but I have never written a poem on, say, factory farming simpliciter. Poetry allows us to eschew simple propositions, for ambiguity and surprise. And I think the same is true of humour, isn’t it? At least if it is not of the thigh-slapping kind. In German, we have a word for a particular kind of humour: ‘hintersinnig’, which is usually translated as ‘with ...

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