German poetry lost in translation

Olivia Barfield

The difference between people of different nations ends beneath the skin, according to Claudia Grinnell.

Grinnell, an associate professor in the School of Humanities, presented “Kriegsgedichte: German Poetry of World War I” as part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I.

Grinnell’s presentation focused on the writings of German soldiers and citizens. According to Grinnell, World War I poets saw the world change and reported on it.

“We were asked to do presentations on things that interested us in connection to the war,” said Grinnell, a German immigrant to the U.S. 

Grinnell chose to discuss the points of view of German soldiers rather than American soldiers, which exposed many students to a side of the war they don’t often see. 

Grinnell said American and German poets did not differ much during the time period.

“I think that once you get over a certain pile of writers that are very nationalistic in their orientation and that glorify their particular country, then you are back down to the human condition,” Grinnell said.

Grinnell said the human condition, especially in war, is a pretty big equalizer due to many people suffering.

“A lot of people are dying, and that makes us equal. Regardless of your nationality, you realize that we all bleed,” Grinnell said.

Rachael Maddox, a junior English major, enjoyed the different viewpoints. 

“A lot of the time you hear about British poets and the poems that they wrote during World War I, but the poetry from Germany during this time period has been totally overlooked,” Maddox said.