German word. “Artist’s novel” being the direct translation.
An origin story, this apocryphal tale about how a creator came to be.
A timeless coming-of-age yarn; how the artist poet author, what have you, becomes—against all odds, advice, and better judgment—what they suppose they were meant to be by overcoming what they were supposed to be, this according to the decidedly ordinary expectations of family and friends, the stilted standards and conventions of society.
As used in this poem:
Like the beating heart of someone suffering
the would-be author lived,
poised perched pulsing on the ragged edge
of his next word. He did not know
his own story, where it led.
And so it was his intent
and so he did begin
to write the tale of a writer
becoming a writer in the process.
But little did he know
that his highly original,
as yet unfinished novel was
not a genre unto itself,
that there was a name for it.
That he was in the throes
of his very own künstlerroman,
or so he now suspected,
and even did so dare to hope. That it was
a kind of coming-of-age story,
that somehow does turn out
in the end, and ever after, after all
the blood and toil, the sleepless nights
all the years and years spent,
for it be anything less than this,
the artist’s novel… Let us hope
and pray for the sake
of his still-beating heart
and leave it at that.