Book tip: Berndt Seite’s desire to write won’t let go

Berndt page (82) has always invoked metaphors of nature in his poems. So it seems logical that he named his new volume of poetry after a medicinal plant that has been known since antiquity: “eyebright”. Latin Euphrasia. He hopes to give some comfort and hope with his new poems, said Seite when welcoming his guests to the book premiere in the art and cinema church Nossentin near Malchow. The eyebright obviously always gives him the consolation in the name, as the poem of the same name says: “roam around as a meadow wolf/ and milk thief/ as a little autumn flower/ or way lamp/ comfort orchids beautiful/ far more than mine/ burning gaze”.

Eyebright is a natural remedy − Page dedicates his work to nature

The lines call to search the omniscient Internet for Euphrasia. In fact, drops and baths prepared from the plant help not only with inflamed eyes. “It has a strengthening effect on a generally weak constitution that is associated with frequent infections and photophobia. A long-term tea cure can lead to the disappearance of the symptoms,” explains a website specializing in natural remedies.

Page always devotes himself to nature, the vastness of the sky and the clear lakes of his homeland around the village of Walow near Malchow. He has lived there with his wife Annemarie since the early 1960s in a small new farmhouse, which he himself did not exchange for a more magnificent residence during his time as Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (1992-1998). A tender, longing love mood often mixes with the landscape observations, as in the poem “cloud holes”: “when the storks stretched their wings/ the corn poppy withered in the cornflower blue/ and took you and the summer with it”.

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But Seite spans the arc of content in his lyrical lines, written consistently in small letters, beyond nature to current affairs and pressing human issues, repeatedly taking up images and figures from mythology, for example when he talks about places like “gomorrah”, ” fukushima” and the “wall” philosophizes. Or when he compresses the horrors of places like the concentration camps, gulags and Srebrenica into a nightmare in “I wake up”.

He even dedicates a quatrain to the pandemic with “B.1.1.529 (omicron)”: “There I am and/ no angel of peace/ will spread over you/ the wings”. It can be assumed that Berndt Seite, as a veterinarian who has studied and experienced epidemics, knows what he is talking about: this pandemic will not pass us by with just faith in God and happy optimism.

The reader cannot expect classic poems in the style of Goethe, Schiller & Co. in “Augentrost”. Page describes the writing process as he often writes down his thoughts, which are to become poetry, in longer texts. “And then I keep shortening and condensing,” he says. Until at the end there are only a few lines left, which are often more reminiscent of aphorisms than of poems, such as “bled out”: “dem sozialismus/ lacks the color grey”.

The next volume is already being prepared

Last year, Berndt Seite announced that he would close his writing room forever with the book of poems that is now available. But the desire to write hasn’t left him after about 20 books, as he revealed after the reading at a cozy get-together with “Protestant lard sandwiches” and “Catholic altar wine”.

The texts for the next volume are already available from his own publishing house, the Weimar Bertuch-Verlag. The book is scheduled to be published in 2023. Despite all the personal sentimentality that can be read in many of Seite’s poems, he remains an attentive contemporary with a love of writing. True to the poem “Leben”: “I like to/ go through life/ as if/ I had a few/ huge headlights/ with me and in front of me/ a good meter/ clear view”.

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