You can’t quite pin Fabian Faltin down. He is a creative shape-shifter, a man in a constant state of flux. During the lockdowns of 2020 he worked on an online live performance called ‘Up My Sleeves’ based on eight semi-fictional, handwritten letters. Though technically speaking not poems, they were read like poems and performed with very formalised hand gestures inspired by Zoom communication and Japanese calligraphy.
DEAR SQUIRREL, you have 8 million views on YouTube and I have, at this moment, maybe 20 or 30. People love watching you when you’re drunk, eating fermented fruit on the grass. You throw yourself against your tree with suicidal energy and as you claw the bark, you tumble over backwards. You move in senseless circles, running clockwise, panicking, starting and stopping, just like a video download. Yesterday I saw you, or one of you, in front of my window, jumping onto the big paper-recycling bin, stuffed full with Amazon boxes. Scuttling around in a little puddle, dancing on soggy cardboard, a triumphant tap-dance on a mountain of capitalist waste. It’s amazing how you can abandon yourself, at least for a moment, before you run over the street and disappear in the neighbour’s garden. I fear to lose control like that. To interrupt my fragile home-office balance and end up watching animal videos all day instead. Control yourself, my friend, or else be controlled by the algorithms. Take care, stay free. Don’t kill yourself falling off a tree. Fabian PS: And go easy with that fermented fruit.
HEY FORMER LOVER, since you disappeared from my life, the animals have also stopped talking to me. To fill the silence, I’ve been re-reading your old letters, especially all those parts that were just blanks, things I didn’t want to see or hear. Once, you write, you were in Estonia, sitting in a bus next to the famous Astrologer Igor Mung. He had a dog named Sufi and a mighty grey beard, and was on his way to pick up a set of rose-coloured glass windows for his library. They’d filter and tune the light just right, for reading, thinking, praying. Maybe my tuning was never quite right for you. You always got a positive vibe from people like doctors and nurses, from clerks in the unemployment office, from witches and saunas. You needed your rooms in a white that was not actually white, but yellow-white. Not colour, you said, but an echo of colour. And in your light-starved country, the blinds always had to be open. Never a speck of dust anywhere. Once you even went to the graveyard and raked the leaves off someone else’s grave. I think my Viennese Baroque was wrong for you: you’d have been perfect in 10th-century Japan, in the Heian Period. A court lady, with precise everyday routines and opinions set in stone, on all the practical, feminist topics: Where to live, whether to have kids, how to split the work, how to have arguments and make money. So I’m happy, at least, to see on the internet that you're still wearing the Japanese silk jacket I gave you as a goodbye present. Cheers, F
By Fabian Faltin
Written in English
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Fabian Faltin is known for his novels, live performances and as a garden designer. He/his work has appeared at the Austrian Cultural Forum London, Festival der Regionen, Tate Modern, WUK, brut, Beĳing Fringe, and many more. He lives and works in Vienna, where he also teaches creative writing.