First Language(s): German
Second Language(s): English, Dutch
Lisa Süß is a German poet based in Amsterdam. Her work has appeared nowhere. To sharpen her tools, she is attending workshops at the International Writers’ Collective, a community of writers from over 29 countries. She works for a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving labour conditions in the global garment industry.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Momo by Michael Ende. The main character, Momo, is a strange, parentless girl that lives on the edge of a town in an old amphitheater. One day Grey Men turn up and convince people to deposit their time in their Timesavings Bank. Gradually, everyone stops “wasting” time on social activities, art or imagination and conforms to a grey, hectic existence. In the end, only Momo resists the Grey Men and sets out on a mission involving a magic tortoise, time flowers and the administrator of Time, Master Hora to save everyone. Michael Ende is best-known for the Neverending Story and other children’s books, but I later learned that he also wrote fantastic, peculiar short stories for adults.
Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
I’ve been writing since I was 13, but I used to be more interested in non-fiction. I first wanted to be a journalist and eventually started my career working in communications for a development work organisation. Several years later, at my current job, I got to travel a lot, especially to India. I spent many jet-lagged, dazed hours in cabs and started jotting down random thoughts and observations in a notebook. Eventually I decided to take creative writing classes to see if I could turn them into something – that something turned out to be poems. Considering the lengths I went to in high school to avoid poetry that’s a pretty odd outcome. I still like writing structured, logical non-fiction pieces, but poetry is basically magic.
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
I’m terrible at remembering things that happened more than two years ago (another great reason to write), so I’ll go with a two-month road trip I took last summer through Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. I learned a ton about Europe, went on amazing hikes, read great books and had a lot of wine. I also lit my bathrobe on fire when I was two years old and lived in Tanzania for a few months when I was 20. The adventure I chose for this year is becoming a mum. We’ll see how it goes.
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
God no. I can only focus on so many things at a time. Sometimes I dream of being the kind of person that spends hours in a café typing away, but in real life I get distracted too easily. So, I write and read at home in silence and eat cake in cafés in non-silence.
On an island far away
Issue Fall '19