4 Poems by Paul Celan, with Commentaries

As I am in the process of proofing my final Paul Celan volume of translations — Memory Rose into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry — to be published by FSG in early November, the month Celan turns 100, I thought I’d post a few of the earliest poems that speak to me this morning (which, I guess, allows me to simultaneously alleviate the tediousness of proofing & the … Read more 4 Poems by Paul Celan, with Commentaries

On the 50th Anniversary of Nelly Sachs’ Passing

The great Jewish German-Swedish poet & playwright Nelly Sachs passed on this day, 12 May, 1970. Raised in Germany, the rise of nazism in the thirties terrified her so much that at one point she lost the ability to speak, as she would remember in verse: “When the great terror came/I fell dumb.” In 1940 she escaped with her mother on the last flight from Nazi Germany to Sweden, a week … Read more On the 50th Anniversary of Nelly Sachs’ Passing

Paul Celan: Fifty Years Later: Tenebrae & 5 More

It was exactly 50 years ago, on the night of 19 to 20 April 1970 that Paul Celan left his apartment on the avenue Emile Zola, and succumbed to his psychic demons: the Pont Mirabeau (an actual bridge over the Seine that is also a poem by Apollinaire) is where he decided to put an end to his life by going into the Seine. His body was found further downstream on … Read more Paul Celan: Fifty Years Later: Tenebrae & 5 More

Abdellatif Laâbi’s ” Perishable Poems”

A pleasure right now here in the turmoil of virus to sit down & read through the latest Abdellatif Laâbi collection of poems, excellently translated by Peter Thompson, & published by Dialogos in Nola. As the publisher’s website states, “English speakers can now join Africans and Africa scholars in recognizing Abdellatif Laâbi as Morocco’s preeminent living poet.” I would qualify this by saying “preeminent francophone poet” given the great … Read more Abdellatif Laâbi’s ” Perishable Poems”

In Celebration of Amjad Nasser, a Poet Who ‘Mourns Himself While Still Alive’

Via the always excellent ArabLit came the news this morning of Amjad Nasser’s illness. I met him many years ago, in Paris, & he & his writing were immediately very close to me. It was he who sent me a xerox of the out-of-print English translation of Niffari’s Book of Stations, a sufi concept — the station, the maw’qif — that would become essential to a core aspect of my … Read more In Celebration of Amjad Nasser, a Poet Who ‘Mourns Himself While Still Alive’

Nicole Peyrafitte & Pierre Joris @ Austin International Poetry Festival

We are almost in Austin after an exhilarating  drive through America and some memorable visits — special mentions to Serpent Mound and to Paris, Kentucky; you can find the documentation of these moments on my Instagram & Facebook pages. We are ready & very much looking forward to an intense 4 days of poetry readings & performances, reconnecting with old friends & meeting new ones. Below, our specific reading … Read more Nicole Peyrafitte & Pierre Joris @ Austin International Poetry Festival

Speechgrille — A Celan Poem for World Poetry Day

Yesterday I finished reworking my translation of Paul Celan’s poem “Speechgrille |Sprachgitter,” from the eponymous 1959 volume. Let me offer it here on World Poetry Day (as — rare occasion! — a second post on the same day on Nomadics blog). I will also add my commentary which takes off from Barbara Wiedemann’s in her German edition of The Collected Poems of Paul Celan. This translation will be published … Read more Speechgrille — A Celan Poem for World Poetry Day

On Mahmoud Darwish Day, 13 Poems

via the always excellent ArabLit (Arabic Literature and Translation): The towering, generation-defining Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was born on this day in al-Birwa. To commemorate his entrance into our world on a March 13, we have excerpts from 13 poems and poemtexts. Follow the links for the more complete works: 1) “The Moon Did Not Fall Into the Well,” from  Journal of an Ordinary Grief, tr. Ibrahim Muhawi Muhawi’s translations … Read more On Mahmoud Darwish Day, 13 Poems

Dante, Sollers, Paradise & A Neologism

Sunday afternoon reading in Philippe Sollers & Josyane Savigneau’s Une conversation infinie which Nicole brought back for me from Paris. Page 18, Sollers speaks of Dante: “In the Divine Comedy, Dante often invents new words; he is in the process of inventing Italian, to which one has to go back in his version of things. A very great love story, The Divine Comedy.Among other things he invents a word … Read more Dante, Sollers, Paradise & A Neologism

6 Poems: The Self-translations of Sargon Boulus

via Arabic Literature and Translation: The poet-translator Mona Kareem has an essay up in The Babel Review of Translations, issue D9: The essay, “He Goes to the Place: Sargon Boulus Translates Himself and Others,” is accompanied by five translations: two where Boulus translates himself, two of Auden, and one to make you read Derek Walcott’s “Love after Love” afresh. They are all side-by-sides and make their own masterclass in translation. As Kareem … Read more 6 Poems: The Self-translations of Sargon Boulus