Ugly Duckling Presse

Missing Witness
Missing Witness

Ulrike Almut Sandig

translated by Bradley Schmidt

Poetry | $12 $9
Fall 2015
"Finely tuned to an existential north that is overshadowed by absence and loss..." — Karen Leeder, Asymptote JournalUlrike Almut Sandig’s poems bear witness to a time and place—the GDR—that no longer exists. Missing Witness, by turns plain-spoken and elliptical, depicts an elusive world that lies in the past but is all too present.Excerpt ˇ


was the table, was the chair, sat a child

in the kitchen and ate, was it still in the hall,

did no one wander around and count

their own steps, the window cross whiter

than usual at evening, small creatures in flight

transected the yard and dust lay on the glass

and a child was very still, was something

occurred with a bolt, was hot at the base

and faded, burst, a child opened its eyes wide

and could, it could not find anything.

Close ˆ

About the Author

Ulrike Almut Sandig
Photo credit: Wolfgang Frank
Ulrike Almut Sandig was born in Großenhain (GDR) in 1979 and started publishing her poetry by pasting it on construction fences (eyemail) and reading at concerts (earmail). Today she works with musicians, composers and film makers to stress the musical aspects of language and voice in her performances. She holds a MA in Religious Studies and Modern Indology and an MFA from the German Literary Institute in Leipzig. She has published three volumes of poetry, a story collection, and two audio-books of poetry & pop music. In spring 2015 Schöffling & Co. published her second story collection Buch gegen das Verschwinden (Book against the Disappearing). Her many awards include the prestigious Leonce-und-Lena Prize (Darmstadt), and the Poetry Award (Meran). Her poems have been translated into Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Belarussian, French, Hindi, Polish, Portugese, Rumanian, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish and Ukrainian. Ulrike Almut Sandig lives with her family in Berlin.

About the Translator

Bradley Schmidt
Photo credit: Jens Klein
Bradley Schmidt grew up in rural Kansas, completed a B.A. in German Studies at Bethel College (KS), studied German Literature and Theology in Marburg, and completed a masters in translation studies at Leipzig University. He lives and works in Leipzig as a translator and editor. He has been an adjunct instructor at Leipzig University since autumn 2009. He is an Assistant Editor at Asymptote and his translations of contemporary German poetry and prose have been published widely online and in print. Anna Kim’s Anatomy of a Night (Frisch & Co.) was critically acclaimed. Missing Witnesses is his first translation to be published in book form.

Advance Praise

In Missing Witness (‘von fehlenden zeugen’), Ulrike Almut Sandig concocts small narratives of the imaginable, almost-there, and ungraspable in hauntingly poised poems that meander along a lyrically confident and well-versed path. It is a skeptical and gentle melancholia that gives only the contours of doom, which Sandig approaches feelingly and incrementally. Matching the tone, rhythms, and levitating gravitas of Sandig’s lines, Bradley Schmidt’s English gives us alive alliterations and lyrical ‘taciturn | creases’ that find their own momentum while staying thoughtfully close to the original.—Sophie Seita
Her poetry deals in the recognizably real: from the city or landscapes of the south to the minutiae of the everyday. But hers is also a voice tinged with nostalgia and a sensibility for landscape that harks back to models from the past, a compass needle finely tuned to an existential north that is overshadowed by absence and loss. Her language reflects this dichotomy: splicing contemporary slang with snippets of children’s rhymes, fairy-tales, or quotations from a nineteenth-century canon with a telling irony.—Karen Leeder, Asymptote Journal
Sandig takes reality and bends it like few can: she subducts gravity.Die literarische WELT
Her texts are indeed so alive, so full of perception.Süddeutsche Zeitung