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

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

Paul Celan: “An hour, lapped up by wolves”

An excerpt from Microliths They are, Little Stones (the Collected Posthumous Prose) by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris [This is one of Celan’s rare forays into prose/fiction & dates most likely from the early fifties.]   121 An hour, lapped up by wolves — in these parts one knows all too well what that means. Grey, wolf-grey it creeps up, unnoticed it sneaks up on you, crouches behind a last, halting … Read more Paul Celan: “An hour, lapped up by wolves”

Rosa Luxemburg & Karl Liebknecht: Murdered 100 Years Ago Today — & Paul Celan’s Poem “You Lie.”

Her corpse was found only 4 months after her assassination, in the Landwehrkanal in Berlin where her murderers had thrown her on January 15 1919. The place is memorialized by a sculpture (you’ll see at the end of the video below). She was shot together with Karl Liebknecht (whose body was delivered anonymously to a morgue) — the two being socialists (& the founders of the Spartacus League) during the … Read more Rosa Luxemburg & Karl Liebknecht: Murdered 100 Years Ago Today — & Paul Celan’s Poem “You Lie.”

Celan the Aphorist

Over the last two year it has been a great pleasure to work on & off at translating Paul Celan’s unpublished miscellaneous prose works that were gathered some years ago by Barbara Wiedemann and Bertrand Badiou in the volume Mikrolithen sinds, Steinchen (Microliths these are, little Stones [Pebbles]). Having put the work on the proverbial backburner for some six months, I am now in the process of pulling it out again & going … Read more Celan the Aphorist

Thoughts on Osip Mandelstam’s Birthday

A birthday that happened 125 years ago today… & still I can’t find an English translation that satisfies me completely. Most of them feel more or less flat, with Mandelstam turned into a most salon-fähig lyrical poet of medium to low intensity. (Oddly enough this is true especially of those translations extolled by Joseph Brodsky, someone who should have know, as he was a native Russian who wound up writing in English, … Read more Thoughts on Osip Mandelstam’s Birthday

YOKO TAWADA: CELAN READS JAPANESE

from: The White Review: A fascinating reflection on Celan and translation from Yōko Tawada, a Japanese writer currently living in Berlin, Germany who writes in both Japanese and German. I missed the piece when it first cam out in 2013, but very happy to have come across it now. Opening paras below, then click on “here.” THERE ARE SOME WHO CLAIM THAT ‘GOOD’ LITERATURE IS ACTUALLY untranslatable.  Before I could read … Read more YOKO TAWADA: CELAN READS JAPANESE

ALTA National Translation Award to “Breathturn into Timestead”

This just in from ALTA. I am obviously overjoyed, though unhappily I couldn’t be in Tucson for the occasion: NTA Winner in Poetry: Breathturn into Timestead by Paul Celan, translated from the German by Pierre Joris Posted on October 30, 2015 by rcldaum The National Translation Award (NTA), given by the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) at our conference, is the oldest prize for a work of literary translation. This year, … Read more ALTA National Translation Award to “Breathturn into Timestead”