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On the Trail of the Inexplicable -- Juri Bender: At the Time I Knew Dominik Hollman Only as my Great-Grandfather

Dem Unerklaerlichen auf der Spur -- Juri Bender: Ich habe Dominik Hollmann
Damals nur als Meinen Urgrossvater Gekannt

"On the Trail of the Inexplicable -- Juri Bender: At the Time I Knew Dominik Hollman Only as my Great-Grandfather." Volk auf dem Weg, May 2005, 15.

Translation from the original German text to American English by Alex
Herzog, Boulder, Colorado


Juri Bender

Juri Bender, at 19, is the youngest member of the Authors Circle of the Germans from Russia. This last-year gymnasium student in Neu Wulmstorf near Hamburg -- where he attends the 13th grade at the Friedrich-Ebert-Gymnasium -- has talent for poetry and has been writing short stories and poems since he was fifteen. A few of these he has already presented at the Literature Seminars in Oerlinghausen. He has also appeared in the newspaper Diplomatischer Kurier/Russlanddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung and in the almanac Literaturblaetter der Deutschen aus Russland (2004).

Juri was born in 1986 in Kamyshin on the Volga. With his bent for storytelling, he followed in the footsteps of a man well known among Germans in the Soviet Union, his great-grandfather, Dominik Hollmann, author, mentor, and co-shaper of postwar German literature there. As Juri recounts, "At the time, I knew Dominik Hollmann only as my great-grandfather. I can still remember visiting him at his home. With my great-grandfather, we 'read' the newspaper together. I did not get to know him as a poet and writer until my brother and I participated in a series of events at which my grandmother, Ida Bender, was reading his poems."

During the bite when the family resettled in Germany in 1991, Juri was only 5 years old and did not know a word of German. He received assistance from his grandmother Ida Bender in learning German, while his parents attended an official language course. Since there was no room in kindergarten, the little boy spent a few months in a preschool and, at six, began first grade. "In elementary school, I was always the only foreigner. But by the time I wanted to attend gymnasium, no one believed I had come from Russia. Thus I never had any problems with the native classmates," says Juri Bender. His parents have also managed to integrate successfully in the meantime. His mother, Lyudmila, is a trained biologist and works in her field. His father, Rudolf Bender, who in Russia had been a certified teacher, in Germany decided to be retrained in the data processing sales field and now works for a computer service company.

Juri Bender (r.) with his great-grandfather Dominik Hollmann

Juri playes the guitar on occasion and is a complete bookworm. He primarily reads Shakespeare and Tolkien and is passionately interested in music and things historical. "In history -- most likely to provide a justified basis for the existence of the mythical. But in general, I am interested in anything that at first blush cannot be explained," Juri describes his preferences. It is in his poems and short stories in which he attempts to delve into the inexplicable. There follows a brief sampling of his writing.

 

[Translator's note: the following is merely a rough translation, not intended as a scholarly rendition in English of Juri's poetry. AH]

Desiring to be Inspired

The Muse visits me,
remains for a bit,
provides help with the poem.
I see the clock.
Am in a hopeless struggle.
Attempt in vain
to move the clock's hands back,
to keep time suspended,
to stretch it out,
to prolong it.
But it happens just as expected:
the Muse disappears,
and five euros along with her
(probably for bus fare).
Nothing takes her place.
Now there is emptiness, hopelessness,
and the end of the poem remains far away!
Only two liens remain to be written.
Do not leave behind any more than Kaliope (1) would.
"To be or not to be?
That is the question here."
Too little for publication.
Too much for the waste basket.

Footnote (1): Kaliope: the Muse of epic poetry.

Circulus vitiosus (2)

Morning dawns: school swallows up
people ceaselessly. Cold stones.
Children, empty bodies.
Filled with empty phrases,
deception, fairy tales.
Emptiness remains, still, silently watching over them.
In the book of stone,
everything of this earth disappears.
Teachers, mere marionettes, high on their horse;
a white horse,
consisting of skeleton and legs.
Bringer of death.
Trying to escape from this -- a daring deed.
In front of the school:
red dots in the shadows;
Poured out sweat;
youth destroyed, innumerable number.
Soulless hulks, thirsty for revenge.
But it is said: rescue is near!
Not far away,
rapidly approaching,
the year Thirteen; promises redemption.
Still, illusion; go away!
One evil replaced by another.
To receive hell's torments,
my soul as permanent guest.

Footnote (2) Circulus vitiosus: vicious circle.

Our appreciation is expressed to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.

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