My Month...

Günter Grass

My Month...


»It took me a while to find back to colors. My works had been dominated by the grays between white and black for too long. But then I started to see colors, to discover the many greens in green, to distinguish the blues of the sky, to paint lemon yellow in yellow and cherry red in red. It was as if I was now rediscovering the world beyond the abundance of gray tones: not inside colored outlines, but rather in a permanent flow of changing colors.«

The harsh criticism of his novel Too Far Afield (1995) cut Günter Grass to the bone. In order to recover from the hurt, he dusts off his old aquarelle box, walks with his dog Kara through the Danish forests, and starts to paint trees. In later paintings, he turns to everyday objects, such as buttons, mushrooms, his pipe and pouch, worn-out shoes, and other found objects. He admits: »I rediscovered things that had for many years been so familiar to me that I had no longer noticed them.« 

He gradually finds his way back to words, and lines of verses and short poems join the watercolors. This results in the so-called »Aquadichte« (»Aqua-Poems«), such as the draft for »Mein Monat...« (»My Month...«). It depicts chestnuts and chestnut leaves. Shades of brown and yellow shades are applied as transparent, yet bright layers. Without ever explicitely referring to his birth month October by name, Grass in just a few strokes casts an impression of autumn with the poem and the image. At the same time, he alludes to the fall of the Wall and German reunification, concluding the poem on a hopeful note. The warm colors of the drawing emphasize the »principle of hope« that Grass puts forth.

These condensed and pointed poems are compiled with cheerful watercolors in Fundsachen für Nichtleser (Snippets for Non-Readers) (1997). In this lyric volume, Grass turns to universal issues, such as love, happiness, illness, or death.