Photography by Julia Giesen

Spring in all its colours – May, 27th 2023

curved right

Framed ocean – A composition of architecture and nature

Purity of life


Author bio: Julia Giesen is studying special needs education at the UDE. Writing short poems has been her passion since her final years in Gymnasium. She is particularly inspired and impressed by the melancholy of the Romantic era.

The One Per Cent (Flash Fiction)

by Melissa Knox-Raab

“Did you see her shoes?”

“You mean the Kathryn Wilson $420,000 diamond shoes or the $50,000 red Christian Louboutin boots?”

“The diamond shoes. For following the Yellow Brick Road. You want those or you want the apartment?”

“Oh, Hon, I don’t know. The pied-a-terre on the Upper West Side or my feet gleaming more than Dorothy’s? It’s a terrible choice. Oh, my God, I’m having a panic attack. Let me call Dr. Steinmetz. Oh, damn, he’s in the Swiss Alps. I could call Susy, my life coach. Can’t I have both? Please? Pretty please with a weekend in East Hampton on top and all your favorite perversions?”

“You’re forgetting the basics.”

“Oh, you mean she’s wearing them? She might not want to take them off her feet and sell them?”

“A plus.”

“God, you’re mean. Then just drive me down to the Kathryn Wilson boutique—there is one, isn’t there? In the fifties somewhere?”

“She’s in New Zealand. I can fly you there, but the apartment may go to the other people—”

“No! No! We need the apartment! We’ll stay there at least once. It’s important. Besides, they have an adorable roof deck and we can drink Courvoisier up there. It would be cute.”

“Yes, cute.” (Yawns.)

“I think I could live with the boots. Actually, they’re the right color, Dorothy-wise. A little kinky. You like that, right? You like kinky. We could do the boots and the apartment together, right? I can wear them on the roof.”

“Maybe, if I throw you off it.”

“Oooh, crazy. Really? And I could hang-glide my way to the Palisades?”

“You want to go to the Palisades?”

“Maybe. For a picnic. Does Dean and Deluca deliver there?”

“For you, yeah.”

“Ooooh, I can’t wait to smell the leather. Hon, you’re the best.”


Author bio: Melissa Knox-Raab taught at the UDE for many years. Her recent writing appears in Areo, Parhelion and on the Fairforall.org substack.

Poems by Julia Giesen

Blurry

My mind is as foggy as my village’s valleys,
My heart on fire like the Easter fires on my way up north, on the passenger seat the flowers you gave me before I left.
I cannot stay any longer in these narrow alleys.
The firewood’s smell sticks in my nose like your perfume,
My self esteem higher than the column of smoke rising up into the sky.
My soul as free as the gooses flying above my car.
The destination is not what you may presume.
Never to return doesn’t seem too bad.
I can’t think clear and I think
I like that.


Peonies in June

I will bloom with grace
Like the pink peony in my garden that I nourish.
Not right away in the first place,
But after a while on a hot summers day I’ll flourish.
Never again may I be shattered
I’ll blow so bright, past all recognition
My petals may seem scattered
But I’m growing with blind ambition.
I took me years to understand
Putting my faith in natures hand
Is the only way for me to grow
And finally I’m letting everything else go…


Cohen and Del Rey

You’ve taken away all my Cohen and Del Rey
and left me in the stove beside Plath


My home, my safe place 

The night was warm and everything was calm
Until you came in.
I’ve screamed, I’ve whispered, I’ve begged you “no”
But all of that didn’t convince you to go.
It only made your desire grow more and more and more and more.
Suddenly your love was not as it was before.
I’ve tried to close my eyes but all I could see was you.
My mind turned into a black hole,
swallowing up each kind of emotion while you took over the control
And the only colour being left in my life at this moment was blue.


Aphrodite

Oh Aphrodite,
Beautiful daughter of the sea.
Golden curls,
Precious pearls,
White linen on your skin
Prettier than anyone has ever been.

Oh Aphrodite,
Perfection of beauty.
Wide hips,
Juicy lips,
Your curves so tempting
That everyone is staring.

Oh Aphrodite,
Look at me.
Seductive eyes,
Bonding ties,
With an insatiable desire
Burning like the hottest fire.

Oh Aphrodite,
Whisper to me slightly
And I’ll be on my way
Even though I know you won’t stay.


Author bio: Julia Giesen is studying special needs education at the UDE. Writing short poems has been her passion since her final years in Gymnasium. She is particularly inspired and impressed by the melancholy of the Romantic era.

Melodies of Bygone Memories

by Christina Brauer

My beloved winged lyricist

– Up there! in a nearby crown.

How sorely my grave heart has missed

Your tunes, light-hearted but profound.

There in the morning frost you sit,

Awaiting warmer days of spring.

Head held with pride and softly lit

When in the dusky light you sing.

But of what I cannot grasp.

I merely know what I perceive:

Sweet ballads of the times that passed,

Sound like home, lovely and bright,

Like bells that mark the end of night,

Fill me with sorrow,

Deep blue woe

When I think, I think of home.

And in my melancholia

I hear the voices from afar:

Children’s laughter

now so distant

Slips away

and now so foreign.

Fearful dread as life goes on:

Death of the past, oblivion.

– But that whistling sound so near,

This old familiar atmosphere

Ignites amongst the twilight grief

A spark of joy, so brief –

But leaves behind

Nostalgia of the cruellest kind

In that heartless certainty

That there is no rewind.

So I yearn and yearn in vain

For happiness, once so mundane.

And I’ve never understood

How something could

Be the cause of yearning

Of paralysing pain that’s burning

In my chest and all the while

also make me smile.

A glimpse of wisdom keeps me sound:

The present’s worth lies in the future,

In retrospective thoughts that nurture

And brace my loose roots in the ground.

Now in the grief that’s left behind

And in the remaining ache I find

Gratitude for what once was,

For value in moments, I believe,

Is measured in yearning, measured in grief.

So I’d rather feel this pain forever

Than to forget it altogether.

And though home is so far away,

You remind me every day.

So sing for me each morn and night.

‘cross from my window you’re in sight.

I’ll gladly listen, listen well

To anecdotes you seem to tell.

Oh beloved winged lyricist,

You fill my heavy heart with bliss.

How blessed I am you chose this spot

Right there on that bare tree top.


Author bio: Christina Brauer is a 4th-semester student who studies Anglophone Studies and Kommunikationswissenschaft and is fascinated by any kind of mythology; Greek, Norse, Celtic – you name it!

Sun Eater / Grandmother

by Corinna Schroll

Sun Eater

Icarus stands no chance
in the face of the sun eater.
Holy, white-hot
300 feet tall daughter,
no veil, no chain to suffocate her,
she walks not in the shadows of a master.
Weeping for dead dreams of the foremothers,
no bride, no mother, but a daughter of fury.
Tear her down from her pedestal,
to submit and serve
before she’ll eat the sun
to become omnipotent –
Better to burn out
submerged by flame
than to fade away.


Grandmother

Bride, mother, vanished,
a thousand eyes watching
have long abandoned her.
Remembered for her veil and womb,
but not her words or mind.
Loved alone by the moon,
unforgotten by celestial bodies
less uncaring than the passage of time
and the minds of men.
Past her prime, a life lived for others.
At least she HAD a husband.
Under the kings’ rule,
let me be king too and sit among them.
But they sneer and pat my head.
To them, I am another bride, mother,
forgotten daughter.
But the daughters remember.


Author bio: Corinna is a 4th-semester student who studies German and Anglophone Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Fascinated with exploring the latest technologies, she also likes to write and publish stories in her free time, and on occassion tries to express the inexpressible through poetry.

Poetry by Vyacheslav Konoval

The Marvel generation

Romanticism in the Majesty of the Suit,

mask, sword, batmobile,

thunder, iron gentlemen,

rats run to fight with them

and a cheeky white krill.

A fly-like red boy

skillfully jumps skyscrapers,

the spider saves,

his grandfather praises him,

a beautiful girl kisses the savior.

I played with these figurines,

the child was resting,

stickers, candy canes, felt happy,

heroes are in Bakhmut City,

heroes are sleeping under the mountains of Kruta,

heroes are sleeping on Mount Chernechiy.


Moped geraniums

An anti-aircraft missile roars in the night,

because the neighbor has a Russian special operation on his brain,

the engine hums and the wave pushes from the bed

of civilian women named Galya, Nina, and Nelya.

The anti-aircraft gun hits the propeller with a shot,

King’s bestseller will soon see the light of day,

how the Iranian gift burns,

the unmanned heart and stomach fly into the abyss.

There is no stop alarm,

thoughts and worries about parents,

about an acquaintance and neighbor’s friend.

Ukraine protects the whole world from evil

while he regretfully sympathizes with it.


The frowning Sun

The gray cat’s sleep was disturbed by anxiety,

the hosts are in a hurry,

walking distance to the metro,

the pet is carried to the subway shelter,

rockets to the capital are flying madly fast.

Relatives call the cat: «Chloe»,

and she wants to sleep

she frowned grumpily

to wait in the subway at night.

Fluffy gets nervous

by the excessive human attention,

purring under her breath,

she charms a spell curst for the Russian contagions,

the moon is full of attacks the city holds,

the little one fluffy complains that she can’t sleep.


Марвелівська генерація

Романтизм у величності костюма,
маска, шпага, бетмобіль,
грім, залізо джельтельменів,
біжать побитись з ними щур
й нахабний білий кріль.

Стрибає вміло хмарочосами,
мухоподібний червоний хлопчина
рятує паук, хвалить його дідуган,
цілує спасителя прекрасна дівчина.

Фігурками Вашими я грався,
безтуботна була  малеччя,
наклейки, фантики, щасливо почувався,
герої у Бахмуті, герої сплять під Кутами,
герої сплять на горі Чернеччі.


Мопедні Герані

Шумить у ночі ракета ПВО,
бо у сусіда в мізках російське СВО,
гуде двигун, штовхає хвиля із постелі
цивільну Галю, Ніну й Нелю.

Зенітка пострілом влучає у пропелер
побаче світ вже Кінговий бестселер,
як горить Іранський подарунок,
летить у прірву безпілотне серце й шлунок.

Відбою тривоги немає годину,
немає годину другу
думки й хвилювання про батьків,
про знайому і сусідську подругу.

Україна від зла увесь світ захищає
поки він із жалем їй співчуває.


Насуплене Сонечко

Сон сіренької киці порушила тривога,
квапляться господарі,
до метро ходьби дорога,
улюбленця із собою в укриття несуть
ракети у столицю шаленно швидко пруть.

Кицю рідні кличуть: «Хлоя»,
а вона хоче спати,
насупилась вередливо,
бо ніч в метро чекати.

Нервується пухнаста
надмірнній людській увазі,
під носа смерті бажає російській заразі,
місяць повний атаки місто тримає,
журиться маленька, що не доcипає.


Author bio: Vyacheslav Konoval is a Ukrainian poet whose works were translated into 6 languages. His poems have appeared in more than 60 literary magazines.

Book Review: Jennette McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died” Is a Masterpiece

by Ronja Iding

Many of us grew up watching Nickelodeon shows like iCarly or Sam and Cat. I’m sure many of us even fantasized about what it would be like to be a child star on these shows. Having tons of money, fans, and fun with your co-stars, going to parties, and getting free stuff wherever you go. But Jennette McCurdy, who spent a significant amount of her childhood portraying Sam Puckett, had no easy life behind the scenes. Growing up with a narcissistic hoarder mom, who struggled with cancer on and off throughout Jennette’s entire childhood and who encouraged her to develop an eating disorder left her with a lot of childhood trauma. In her memoir, “I’m Glad My Mom Died” McCurdy opens up about just how much trauma she had to endure.

At the tender age of six, Jennette was put into acting to fulfil her mother’s lifelong dream of becoming a star. Although acting was never Jennette’s dream, she quickly recognized that she had to do it to keep her mom happy. “I think she wanted me to have a better life than she had, but I also think her approach was very unhealthy and informed by her own lack of self-work and she lived vicariously through me.” Jennette says in an interview with ABC News.

            Jennette’s family always struggled financially, and like a lot of child stars her acting paid the bills. By the age of eleven, Jennette had become the main source of income for her entire family, which included her three older brothers, parents, and maternal grandparents. They lived in a smelly hoarder house due to her mother’s mental illness, and the children slept on mats in the living room. “It felt like a lot of pressure, and then I think my mom saw my career as a way out of that life, of that way of living, of that constant grind.” Jennette explains.

            Jennette’s mom started teaching her about calorie restriction around the same time. To keep her small and childlike this dangerous way of eating became a habit. Jennette reflects, “I think my mom wanted to keep me as controllable as possible. I think she really wanted to have her influence on me and me growing up was a threat to that.” Living with a mother that encouraged and conditioned her anorexia was not the end of the abuse. Jennette, along with her youngest older brother, was showered by her mother until she was seventeen. She would even shower them together, leaving her children with more trauma.

            Along with the trauma she had to endure at home, Jennette was thrown into the spotlight as a child star, leaving her even more confused, “You’re playing an adult’s game, you’re in an adult’s world, and you don’t recognize that. You’re incapable of being on that level, but you are confused, and you think that you are.” Jennette tried to quit acting a few times, but quickly stopped once her mother started frantically crying and yelling.

            Her mother’s first cancer diagnosis happened when Jennette was only two years old. Ever since then, the family had lived in fear of her cancer coming back. Eventually, when Jennette was eighteen, it did. Not too long after, when Jennette was twenty-one, Deborah McCurdy died.

            Right after her mother’s death, Jennette developed both drinking problems, as well as bulimia. She started binge eating and throwing everything up due to a guilty conscience. She closed herself off to the world due to her pain, trauma, and confusion.

Even after her mom died, it took a lot of time until Jennette was able to address the abuse, she had been enduring her entire life. “I couldn’t initially accept the idea that my mother was abusive toward me because my whole life […] I was operating through this lens of my mom wants what’s best for me even after she died. I’m nothing without my mom. […] Accepting that she was abusive would have meant reframing my entire life.” She went through several therapists to seek help for her eating disorder and trauma and eventually quit acting to focus on her health and to figure out what she wanted. Today she is able to identify her mom’s behavior as, “violent and erratic unstable”.

Today Jennette reflects on her decisions after her mother’s death and says, “I’m proud of myself. I think I’ve chosen a path of integrity, and it hasn’t always been easy.”

            There is a lot more to unpack in her memoir concerning Nickelodeon, child stardom, how these networks operate behind the scenes and luckily her friendship with one specific costar that helped her grow and heal throughout the years. Her writing style is refreshing and makes it easy to read the whole thing in one sitting, while also leaving you with a whirlwind of emotions. If you want to know more, I recommend having a read through it.


Author bio: Ronja studies Anglophone Studies and Kommunikationswissenschaft at UDE. When she’s not watching movies or reading books, she writes her own stories or plays ice hockey.

One for the Vine – Writing the Story of Your Life

by Christian Krumm

The title of this text refers to an old song by the band Genesis. The song tells the story of a legendary man who is chosen to be a leader heading an army of soldiers into a war of fortune. Nowadays it might not be everyone’s most famous purpose in life to do something like this. But in most people’s lives, especially in writing, it is the question remains: Am I the chosen one? Is it me who can be successful with my own stories, written from the bottom of my heart, revealing my most private and intimate thoughts? There are so many others doing the same thing as me. And if I am brave enough to publish, will I be heard or hurt by people after they have read my story?

After surviving the first light and humble moments in writing, those questions arise like phantoms in almost everyone’s head. Did I say almost everyone? That is wrong. Everyone experiences these kinds of feelings. It is fear and shame that makes us think something we wrote is too embarrassing, too intimate or leaves the reader with an inaccurate impression of ourselves.

In that particular moment we stop writing and start thinking. Most people think their lives are ordinary – boring even. And in one sense, they are correct: Life is not possible without constantly compromising. This behaviour is expected and it is necessary in modern societies. So, if we get unsure about what we should write, our thoughts tell us that we should behave in writing in the way that is most successful in living. We start to compromise, start to write something which we think people expect from us and so we hide what is really deep down inside us.

But what matters is this: Feeling comes before thinking. Just imagine not only you but everyone around you behaving the way I pointed out above. That means everyone tries to cooperate, compromise, and conform – and above all, to hide whatever seems to set themselves apart. That means that for most of our daily lives, we’ll be meeting people who behave according to what they think, not what they feel. But by reading a story, even your story, they want to escape from the world of thinking and enter the world of feeling. In this world no life is ordinary. Feeling is what really connects people; it makes them overcome all the thinking and makes them say something like: I love you; I admire you for something you do; even: I hate you for something you have done to me. Feeling can change the world of one person the way all thinking never could. And this is exactly what makes a story interesting, fascinating and even unique.

So back to our first question: Are you the chosen one to do that? Of course you are, because, honestly, nobody is. Who will choose you, if you don’t choose yourself? If you write down your real-life feelings, turn them into a story, fantasy, thriller, crime or romance, you will find your reads: people who fell the way you do. You will find people who share the feelings you wrote about. And people will love you for that.

So sit down and write the story of your feelings in life. Write about people you love, you hate, you adore or you feel pity for. Give them fantastic names and abilities, let them suffer or find their luck. Take off the shame and the fear of what other people might think about you after reading your text. You will offer them feelings they don’t experience in their lives. And that is what reading makes the act of reading so fascinating.

So, stop thinking. Start writing. Start feeling. Write the story of your life.


Author bio: Christian Krumm is a writer of novels and short stories. He teaches creative writing at the Universität Duisburg-Essen.

Tea Stains

by Katja Kramer

She gazes at his cup from across the small wooden table. You can see the liquid; the cup’s nearly as full as it was an hour ago.

“Listen, I won’t sit here all day.” Her eyes travel to the all too familiar window—it’s gotten significantly darker since she got here. “Or night.”

Her cup’s almost empty; there are a few sips left. She’s undecided whether to finish the tea or not as what’s left at the bottom of the cup tends to be quite bitter and cold.

“Please,” he whispers. “Please don’t leave.”

Shaking her head slowly, she raises the cup to her lips. “But I’m already gone.”

He opens his mouth but the words remain stuck in his throat.

“You called me,” she says, shooting a glance at his cup. “You poured that tea.” She tries to lock eyes with him but he fails to look up from his drink. “You wanted to talk.”

She takes her last sip. It’s bitter and cold.

Giving him one final, unrequited look of resignation, she sets her cup down. There’s some lipstick on the rim of it and the bottom’s stained. He stares at it, still dwelling on how he’ll ever get rid of the marks she left behind when she’s long out the door.


Author Bio: Katja Kramer is a 4th-semester student of Anglophone Studies and Kommunikationswissenschaft at the University of Duisburg-Essen. From her early childhood she’s been into all sorts of art: she has been drawing and painting ever since she could hold a pen and brush; she’s passionate about music, cinema and theater; especially in recent years, writing stories and essays has brought her incredible joy.