Life In Berlin: In The Widdle Wat Of Time

35 minutes ago

God bless America and everywhere else.

American writer Michael Lederer reads a poem from In the Widdle Wat of Time. His collection of poetry and short stories was just published by Palm Art Press in Berlin. Lederer chose two images of himself for the cover: On the front, him as a three-year old; on the back, a current photo.

"The 3-year-old in this picture - if you had spoken to him about being 59, he would have thought, 'That's like so many forevers away!' But now, looking back, the 59-year-old reflecting on being 3 - that was the day before yesterday. So In the Widdle Wat of Time is meant to take a stab at how puzzling and mysterious this thing called time is," explains the novelist. 

A photo of the American novelist, Michael Lederer, in Spain, 1984.
Credit Michael Lederer

The American has spent a lot of time traveling over the past forty years. He's lived in Spain, in Croatia, and moved to Berlin in the late '90s.

"To me, the most exotic thing is when I meet somebody who was born in a house that their grandparents had built," says Lederer, "and their cousins, their brothers and sisters are all there in the same village, town, [and] city."

In the Widdle Wat of Time is a curated collection of Lederer's life in writing - from his very first poem written at age 11 to where he is at now. Stylistically, it mixes more traditional forms, like sonnets and haiku, with musings saved on napkins. Among his themes are mortality, love, and most recently, politics.

"It's unbelievable to me, that this tradition that America has always represented - sort of a welcoming embrace to which so many, including my father who was a refugee from World War II in Europe; so many have come," recalls Lederer. "And suddenly, the very people who wave the flag would build a wall and would exclude."

His poem, "America Lost," addresses this disbelief:

Do not give me your tired, your poor 

Your huddled masses yearning to breath free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Do not send these the homeless tempest-tossed to me

I lift my lamp beside the closed door

Still, Lederer says he clings to optimism. His sense of playfulness is another perspective In the Widdle Wat of Time.