August Stramm (1874-1915) was born in Münster and educated in Aachen, Germany. After he had graduated from grammar school, Stramm held various positions in the German Postdienst and regularly travelled between Germany and the USA after having been promoted to a position in the Seepostdienst in 1897. Stramm married journalist Else Krafft in 1902 and moved to Berlin three years later. In the German capital Stramm developed his groundbreaking approach of poetry, which in 1912 won him the attention of Herwarth Walden, publisher of the expressionist magazine ‘Der Sturm’. They soon became close friends. Walden understood what Stramm’s loud, and violently deconstructionist poetry was about and regularly included it in his controversial avant-garde magazine. During WWI Stramm first served as an officer on the West front, which earned him the Iron Cross 2nd class, and then on the East Front, where he was killed at the age of 41 in the battle of the Dniepr-Bug Canal.
August Stramm is now mainly remembered for the poems that he wrote during WWI and were published posthumously as Tropfblut by Walden in 1919. But Stramm’s poem Fluch, also written during WWI, was part of his earlier collection of love poems Du, which was published in 1915. Inspired by Nietzsche, the Futurists, the war and his friendship with Walden, Fluch is a passionate, almost violent love poem. In sentences that consist of no more than a couple of powerful words, at times of a single word and an exclamation mark only, Stramm directs a loud cry of resistance, revolt and self-sacrifice at a godless sky. Fluch is a heartfelt curse and at the same time a passionate cry of love. The original German poem was published in an English translation as Curse by Sea Urchin in February-March 2020. Artwork and English translation: Ben Schot.