1. Could you tell us a little about your creative process and your working routine? When and where do you prefer writing?
I write when something affects, excites, moves me. Sometimes a sentence, or even a note becomes this magnet, attracting more and more particles.I create plans and develop characters, which at best become alive and overthrow my plans. I attempt to write every day. At least one sentence. In the beginning there’s always an inspiration, that moves the magnet, the inner pen. But then I need to be diligent. I write best in the mornings.
2. How do your surroundings influence your writing and creative process? Does New York encourage your creativity?
Every environment influences my perception and my perception influences my writing. The Swiss author Urs Widmer once said, referring to writing: „Alles, was aus einem herauskommt, ist auch irgendwie in einen hineingegangen.” One could say: Fiction always operates through one’s own archive of perceptions. In this regard, New York is a treasure chest.
3. Before your debut Wurfschatten, you exclusively wrote poetry. How did the idea for your book come to you and how was writing prose different from writing poetry to you?
I never only wrote poetry. Someone once said that I did, and ever since this is being repeated steadily. A text always searches for its form. There are things that cannot evolve into a book, while others won’t become a poem. Poetry and prose always exist next to each other. Yet poetry might be more of a safe space for me, some sort of tent in prose’s front yard, that I slip into from time to time.
4. Ada, the main character in „Wurfschatten,“ suffers from panic attacks. What intrigued you about the issue of paralyzing fear?
The impact of fear is always as intense as it feels to a person, regardless of whether its cause seems justified or not. With anxiety and panic attacks comes shame; many people suffering from these conditions feel misunderstood or labeled as drama queens. The stories we grow up with are stories of heroes and not scaredy cats. It was important to me to create a deeper understanding of this feeling of fear, to find images for it. And also to talk about how it is okay to feel fear. That it’s worth it to deal with fear rather than ignoring it. And that you can never get rid of something that you keep to yourself.
5. You are one of the curators of Babelsprech.International, a network to connect German speaking poets internationally. Is poetry being perceived differently in the US than in Europe? How so?
To Babelsprech.International, poetry is an approach that knows many forms. Especially at events and conferences, we explore intersections between poetry and other art forms and fields of society and politics. In Switzerland, thanks to Babelsprech, we were able to shift the focus more and more towards (young) poetry, to perceive each other as writers and to exchange our experiences and thoughts with each other. I’m not sure how hard it is for poets in the US.
In German speaking countries I sense a sort of fear towards poetry, a fear of not understanding a poem, not finding access to it. But poems aren’t secured with a padlock, and there is no key to open them. Unfortunately, this assumption is often communicated in schools.
A poem can overwhelm and stay a mystery to its reader. What we don’t understand disconcerts us. In understanding, we find reassurance. We fear what we don’t know. Modern art, literature, and especially poetry, offer the possibility for us to perceive the act of not understanding something as a positive thing. When dealing with poetry we are allowed to wonder, to be overwhelmed by it and to enjoy. This is what I try to communicate as a curator.
6. May we ask, what are you reading at the moment?
I always read more than one book at a time. Right now: essays by Joan Didion (Wir erzählen uns Geschichten um zu leben) as well as a book called Weichenstellung Zukunft: Pionierinnen der Eisenbahn erzählen in terms of research, as my new novel will talk about one of the first female engine drivers in Switzerland. And then I am also reading a volume of stories, Simultan by Ingeborg Bachmann, now for the third time…