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The staccato rhythm is an abrupt, detached and choppy intonation in the style of Walter Mehring, John Berryman, Thomas Kling, Ginka Steinwachs, Michael Lentz or Léonce Lupette. An early example of this style is Walter Mehring's Ketzerbrevier (Breviary for heretics), A Dadaist collage of word and language materials from political slogans, newspaper headlines, scraps of quotations and sound particles, which developed a lyrical tone that was new at that time (1921): "Das Volk steht auf! Die Fahnen raus! / – bis früh um fünfe, kleine Maus! / Im UFA-Film: / ›Hoch, Kaiser Wil'm!‹ / Die Reaktion flaggt schon am DOM / Mit Hakenkreuz und Blaukreuzgas." A radicalization of this style can then be observed in the "Partikelgestöber" (particle flurry) from Paul Celan's late poem Engführung: "taggrau,/der/Grundwasserspuren -/Verbracht/ins Gelände/mit/der untrüglichen/Spur:/Gras./Gras,/auseinandergeschrieben." According to Buck, this "staccato text" finally hammers the memory of the "Gelände mit der untrüglichen Spur" (site with the unmistakable trace) into the reader's memory (Buck 1993, pp. 154). A similar example of this radical form of rhythmization is the poetry volume "morsch" (brittle) by Thomas Kling, published in 1996, especially the cycle "Manhattan Mundraum": "die stadt ist der mund / raum. die zunge, textus; / stadtzunge der granit: / geschmolzener und / wieder aufgeschmo- / lzner text."

Typical for the staccato style is the sequence of often monosyllabic word particles as an expression of a compressed and emotionally intense way of speaking. This is characterized by syntactic and lexical breaks, neologisms, assonances and enjambement-like torn composites, often even in the transition of line breaks. But there are also lyricists who translate syntactically correct texts into a staccato-like reading, such as Ginka Steinwachs.

The poems by Australian Amanda Stewart also present political, ideological and sexual-political themes in a staccato mixture of declamation, screaming, stuttering and singing, as the poem It becomes July 1981 shows. An American example of this style is John Berryman's poetry, for example the "Nervous Songs" from the poetry collection "The Disposed". Stephen Matterson saw their particularity "in the uncertain syntax, in the staccato-like phrases, and in the heavy use of caesura, all appropriate for speakers in crisis, for whom language is at its limits." (Matterson 2017, p. 28). This might also explain the poetry of the Berryman translator Leonce W. Lupette, whose Jena-cycle is one of the most recent examples of this rhythmic form.


Buck, Theo: Celan-Studien. 1. Muttersprache, Mördersprache, Aachen 1993.

Matterson, Stephen: Whims & emergencies, discoveries, losses': The Poetry of John Berryman, in: Eleanor Spencer (Hg.): American Poetry since 1945, London and New York 2017, S. 25 – 39.