Rubble Flora

Selected Poems

Volker Braun

Rubble Flora

Volker Braun

Distributed for Seagull Books

Translated by David Constantine and Karen Leeder

144 pages | 5 x 8 1/2 | © 2014
Cloth $21.00 ISBN: 9780857422187 Published September 2014 World sales rights except India
Rubble Flora is a selection of poems from the distinguished, half-century-long career of German poet Volker Braun. Born in the former East Germany, Braun is a humane, witty, brave, and disappointed poet. In the East, his poetry upheld the voice of the individual imagination and identified with a utopian possibility that never became reality. He might be said to have found a truly singular voice amid the colossal upheavals of 1989—exploring the triumph of capitalism and the languages of advertising, terror, politics, and war. At the same time, Braun is a sensual poet in tune with the natural landscape. He has his own touchstones in world literature, and many of his poems set quotations from Rimbaud, Shakespeare, and Brecht into his own context, where they work as ironic illuminations of a present plight. The literary principle of his work lies in the friction of these different voices, whether cast into free form, collage, or classical verse. Cumulatively, Rubble Flora offers a searing vision of these transformative decades.



1. Prussia, Pleasure Garden

Rubble Flora

The Gründel


An Account of Despair

The Life and Times of Volker Braun

At Dawn


Is It Too Soon. Is It Too Late



Italian Night

Prussia, Pleasure Garden


Innermost Africa


Walter Benjamin in the Pyrenees

Dark Places

Woken out of Dogmatic Slumber


Another Part of the Heath

Gallery of Antiquities

From The Zig-Zag Bridge

The Zig-Zag Bridge

Turning Point

The Cinnamon Forest

The Muddy Levels

Builder on the Stalinallee

New Wallpaper

The Colony

Prologue for the Opening of the Fortieth Season of the Berliner Ensemble on 11 October 1989

2. The Massacre of Illusions

O Chicago! O Contradiction!


9 November

My Brother

Theatre of the Dead


End of October in August

Marlboro Is Red. Red Is Marlboro

West Shore


Pliny Sends Greetings to Tacitus

The Magma in the Heart of the Tuareg

6. 5.1996

Hill of the Dead

Bay of the Dead

After the Massacre of Illusions


Coined for the Ruling Class

From Dances of Death



Common Ownership


Class Struggle



3. Findings

Pontine Marshes




When He Could See Again

Shakespeare Shuttle

World Power

Bed for the Night with Su Tung-P’o (1036–1101)

The Empire Considers a Map of the World

Ultimatum to Parsley Island

The Centre

Here’s to the Good Times! For Sir Philip Sidney

De vita beata. After Jaime Gil de Biedma


The Lovers. Before Dante

My Fear


Everywhere the Lights are Going Out

The Last-Shift Mass

Cashing Up





The Slum-Dwellers of Medellin Take Possession of the Great Escalator 27 December 2011


Conversation about the Trees in Gezi Park



Translations and Dates


Review Quotes
Complete Review
“A book-length collection of Braun’s poetry is long, long overdue. . . . Rubble Flora is a most welcome volume and certainly essential for anyone interested in modern German poetry, as well as (thoughtfully) politically engaged poetry.”
Poetry Salzburg Review
“An excellent introduction to Braun’s work. . . . As the reader progresses through Rubble Flora, he or she is offered what amounts to a poetic history of the forms of life through which Braun has lived: the Third Reich (into which he was born); the German Democratic Republic (in which he grew up and worked, a critical socialist); German unification and the tensions of capitalism (which he has witnessed as a critical citizen of the new Germany). It is very good to see a poem dedicated to its translator, incidentally, which is one of the many ways in which this book makes connections.”
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