A verse burns.

ammstein_till-jpg600God knows, I want to be a poet: Till Lindemann, the singer of Rammstein, has published his first volume of poetry. The poems in “Messer” tell of apocalypse and, not the least, growing old.

“So, cheerfulness…“says Till Lindemann, the singer of Rammstein and now also a poet, “nobody expects that from me, anyway. Also it quite simply doesn’t inspire me.”

He says this and looks out into the November morning outside the glass facade on the 23rd floor of the Treptower, stretching across the land in the eastern direction of Berlin. “Andromeda, I can see you/ you were never this close before“, reads one of the poems in the volume with the simple title , “Messer”. Destiny rides a white horse, and stone by stone, a tall tower is erected where Death’s already moved in: “Viva Andromeda”. Any questions?

At this very moment, 11:13 AM, the alarm in the Treptower goes off. The employees of the Allianz Insurance Company, that occupies most of the high-rise, evacuate the building in an orderly fashion. Till Lindemann remains seated. “Here comes Bin Laden,” he says and points at an aircraft closing in on Treptower from Schönefeld airport. Till Lindemann is a man of sorrows who can also loosen up at times. More coffee? Or would you rather have water?

Ten minutes later, the alarm is turned off. The whole thing was just a drill. So we speak about poetry. “I have simply written from my soul,” says Lindemann, and concerning “Andromeda”, there was also a bottle of rum involved, which he emptied at a beach in Venezuela. He doesn’t want to explain his poetry: “But I like it when other people have an opinion.”

They are proper poems, though, sad stuff for the most part. About death and illness, flowing pus and entrails and “the greedy sex.” From the Baroque apocalypses to the floating lake corpses of the Expressionism, from blood red Romantic evening ambiences all the way to the dying dancer of Fin de Siècle, Till Lindemann has included everything that smells of decay and doom. In places, a tinge of a more personal note, and a lot is quite simply not meant to be taken seriously: “a small boat on a sea of flames/no land in sight, nor Fire Brigade”.

Make it rhyme or I’ll flog you: of course it makes you think of the lyrics of Rammstein, dirty, dramatic and forged with a hammer. Bend over, meter! Till Lindemann wants to keep his band separate from his poetry, though. Music is a “strait jacket”, he says. Writing poetry is like “having gotten out of the cage.” Is “Messer” Till Lindemann breaking free from the rock circus? “No.” The next Rammstein CD is already in the works. “But you have to know when it’s enough.”

Till Lindemann is 39. That’s not very old, but the photos that Jens Rötzsch, together with Rammstein’s stage director and light designer, Gert Hof, has staged for the book tell another story: Lindemann with a shaved head, the white makeup is not covering up the wrinkles and pores but rather emphasizes them, posing next to youthful plastic mannequins. It’s the portrait of an aged fictional character. Even rock stars grow old.

When is it enough then? “When the gums recede. When the kids point a finger at you.” And then? “To sit on a park bench and draw a pussy in the sand with the walking stick, a friend of mine once said.” Till Lindemann smiles. In a worst case scenario, he can always write a few poems later on.

For the next book, that is. Below, in the foyer of the high rise, the end of the evacuation drill has orderly begun. The building manager has a Geiger counter in his hand, and the first employees cram themselves back into the elevator. Young people with well cared for teeth, designer glasses and polished shoes ride back up into the skies. Viva Andromeda: “In shining armor my master stands/as if by ten thousand illusions”. Apt. Till Lindemann is a poet whose every word you believe. That doesn’t happen very often.

Till Lindemann: “Messer”. Eichborn, Frankfurt a. M. 2002. 142 S., 29,90 €

By KOLJA MENSING
Translation by Murray
Original source: TAZ.DE
Date: 11/20/2002

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