Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Most of Wolf Biermann’s published work consists of poems and songs. This fact reflects his conviction that poetry, especially song, provides the most appropriate and effective means of conveying the intensely personal and political content of his work. Biermann’s other writings reinforce this strong political emphasis. These writings include several collections of essays, university lectures on the writing of poetry and songs, children’s books, and a play. The play Der Dra-Dra: Die grosse Drachentöterschau in acht Akten mit Musik (1970; the dra-dra: the great dragon-killer show in eight acts with music), is an adaptation of the fairy-tale comedy Drakon (1943; The Dragon, 1963) by the Russian playwright Yevgeny Schwartz and concerns the fate of a city-state ruled by a dragon. In Biermann’s hands, it becomes a political parable about the specter of Stalinism in Eastern Europe. In addition, Biermann has translated numerous poems and songs by other poets into German, most notably the long Yiddish poem on the fate of the Jews of Eastern Europe by the Polish-Jewish writer Yitzak Katzenelson, Grosser Gesang vom ausgerotteten jüdischen Volk (1994; great song of the exterminated Jewish people).