July 30, 2015

Endre Ady (Hungary) 1877-1919

Endre Ady [Hungary]

Endre Ady was born on November 22, 1877 in Érmindszent, part of the Austria-Hungary empire, and, now, the village of Szatmár Satu Mare County in Romania. His family was an impoverished Calvinist family of formerly noble position.
     Ady attended the Calvinist College in Zalău between 1892-1896, publishing his first poem, in the city newspaper, during his last year of college. He continued his studies, majoring in law, at the Reformed College in Debrecen, becoming a journalist upon the completion of his education.
   His first book-length publication was Versek (Poems), published in 1899. Bored by living in Debrecen, represented later as a symbol of provincial backwardness, Ady moved to Nagyváard (today Oradea, Romania). There is continued as a journalist, but also found a community of like-minded thinkers, publishing another collection of poetry in 1903. In August of that year he met Adél Brüll, a wealthy married woman living in Paris but, when she met Ady, was visiting her home town. She quickly became his muse, whom he called Léda, and he followed her back to Paris, revisiting that city 7 times between 1904 and 1911.
    There he discovered the work of Baudelaire and Verlaine, poets who highly influenced his own writing. Returning from his first visit to Paris, where he stayed for over a year, Ady moved to Buadpest, where he began writing for the newspaper Budapest Napló (Budapest Journal), where he published 500 articles and numerous poems.
    Early in the century Ady became aligned with the radical group Huszadik Száad (Twentieth Century), and published his third book of poetry, Új versek (New Poems), which became a landmark work, often describes as marking the birth of modern Hungarian poetry. The following collection, Vér és arany (Blood and Gold) but brought him critical acclaim and financial success.
     In 1906 Ady returned to Paris, leaving his position at the Budapest Napl, but returned again to Hungary. Using the former EMKE café as a base, Ady founded a literary group he titled “A Holnap” (Tomorrow). The circle published not only Ady’s work but other major Hungarian poets, including Mihály Babits, Gyula Juhász, and Béla Balázs. Many attacked the new anthology for containing erotic poems and for work that represented what some Hungarians felts was unpatriotic work. 
    Although Ady championed these writers, he disliked his name being automatically linked with other newcomers. Satirizing these “upstarts” who jumped upon his bandwagon, Ady wrote a short tale, “The duk-duk affair.”

Throughout these years Ady edited the important Hungarian journal, Nyugat (West), pushing for literary and political change, but also wary of some of what he saw as Western faults.
     Having contacted syphilis, he spent much of 1909 in sanitariums. Political chaos was also on the horizon, and he saw the possibility of a revolution. His continuing affair with Léda now became a burdensome commitment, and in 1912 he broke up with her.
     In 1914 he met a 20-year-old woman, Berta Boncza, with he had been corresponding since 1911. The couple married in 1915, and he wrote many poems to her in which he called her Czinszka. 
     With the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Ady saw that a world war was fast approaching. Although his friends seemed enthusiastic about the impending battles, he worried deeply for his country’s future, expressing many of fears in his last poem, “Üdvözlet a győzőnek” (“Greetings to the victorious”) 
     Syphilis had so weakened his aorta that he was now near death. The Vörösmarty Academic, an organization of modern writers, elected him their president, but he was unable to deliver his opening speech. He died in Budapest on January 27, 1919 at the age of 41.


Versek (1899); Még egyszer (1903); Új versek (1906); Vér és arany (1907); Az Illés szekerén (1909); Szeretném, ha szeretnének (1910); A Minden-Titkok versei (1911); A menekülő Élet (1912); Margita élni akar (1912); A magunk szerelme (1913); Ki látott engem? (Budapes: Nyugat Irodalmi és Nyomdai Részvénytársaság, 1914; Budapest: Athenaeum, 1922); A halottak élén (1918); Az utolsó hajók (1923)


Poems, René Bonnerjea, trans. (Budapest: Dr. Vajna and Bokor, 1941); Selected Poems Eugene Bard, trans. (Munich: Hieronymus, 1987); Poems of Endre Ady, trans. by Anton N. Nyerges (Buffalo: University Press of America/The State University at Buffalo Program in Soviet and Eastern European Studies, 1969).


An angry angel beat the drum on high
Sounding the alarm on this sad Earth,
At least a hundred youths went mad
At least a hundred stars fell
At least a hundred veils were rent:
It was a strange,
Strange summer night.

Our old beehive burst into flame,
Our best colt broke his leg,
I dreamed the dead came back to life,
Our good dog, Brutus, went astray
And our servant, Mary the mute,
Burst into loud song
On that strange,
Strange summer night.

The worthless swaggered like heroes
And true men lay low
And finicky robbers went out to rob:
On that strange,
Strange summer night.

We knew that men were feeble
And bankrupt in love:
Even so, it was weird
The living and the dead on the turning wheel.
The Moon was never more mocking:
Never were men punier,
Than on that night:
That strange,
Strange summer night.

Dread bent over souls
with gleeful spite,
The hidden fate of his forebears
In every man dwelt deep,
Drunken Thought, Man’s once proud lad,
Heading to that grim and bloody wedding feast,
Was now lame and naught:
On that strange,
Strange summer night

I believed at that time, I thought
Some neglected God
Would come to life
And deliver me to death
And now, I live here,
Transfigured by that night
Waiting for God. I remember
That world-destroying,
Dreadful night:
That strange,
Strange summer night.

--Translated from the Hungarian by Elizabeth Csicsery-Rónay

©2014, 2015  by Elizabeth Csicsery-Rónay

July 27, 2015

Lee Harwood (England) 1939-2015

Lee Harwood [England]

Born Travers Rae Lee Harwood on June 6, 1939 in Leicester, England, Harwood’s father, a math teach, was called up for the military and stationed in Africa soon after his son’s birth.
     Harwood studied English at Queen Mary College of the University of London from 1958-1961, and continued living in London for six years after graduating, working in the city as a mason’s mate, a librarian, and a bookshop assistant.

He quickly became involved with the British “Beat” scene, becoming involved in the editing of the single issue magazines Night Scene and Night Train. His own journal Tzarad, ran for three issues between 1965-1969, signalling a shift in British interest from the Beats to the New York School poets, a relationship to whom Harwood would have for the rest of his life.
     During this same period, Harwood first became involved with translating books by Tristan Tzara, which appeared over the years in 6 volumes and a bibliography of the Romanian Dadaist.
     In 1961, he married Jenny Goodgame, with he had a son, Blake, the following year. After their marriage ended, he met the photography Judith Walker while writing in residence at the Aegean School of Fine Arts in Paros, Greece. The couple married in 1974. Her photographs appear in his books Boston-Brighton and All the Wrong Notes. He and Walker bore a son, Rafe in 1977, and a daughter, Rowan in 1979.
     In 1967, Harwood moved to Brighton, where he continued live for the rest of his life, with brief stays in Greece and the United States. As in London, Harwood took jobs in a number of different professions, working as a bookshop manager, a bus conductor, and a Post Office clerk. He also became deeply involved in the Labour Party during its most radical years and even ran (without success) in a local election. Predictably, during this period Harwood’s poetry contained strong political elements, particularly in All the Wrong Notes of 1981.
     Harwood’s poetry, which he began publishing in the book title illegible in 1965, has often been compared to that of John Ashbery, whom he met in Paris in 1965. Harwood described his,  own work, general grouped with the British Poetry Revival, as attempting to produce “an unfinished quality containing a mosaic of information.” Like several of the New York School writers, Harwood relied heavily on collage and procedures related to film and visual art. Particularly in the early works, his poems contained a quality of immediacy, including blocks of dialogue and direct observations. Some have noted that his later poems seemed more distanced and nuanced, although Morning Light (1998) and Evening Star (2004) bore deep resemblances to his early writing.
      The British publisher Shearsman, published both his collected and selected poems. Harwood also published several prose and fictional works, including Wine Tales (1984), Dream Quilt (1985); Assorted Stories (1987), and a collection of interviews Not the Full Story (2008).


title illegible (London: Writers Forum, 1965); The Man with Blue eyes (New York: Angel Hair Books, 1966); The White Room (London: Fulcrum Press, 1968); The Beautiful Atlas (Brighton: Kavanagh, 1969); Landscapes (London: Fulcrum Press, 1969); The Sinking Colony (London: Fulcrum Press, 1969); work (with John Ashbery and Tom Raworth) included in Penguin Modern Poets 19 (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1971); Freighters (Newcastle, England: Pig Press, 1975); H.M.S. Little Fox (London Oasis Books, 1975); Boston-Brighton (London: Oasis Books, 1977); Old Bosham Bird Watch (Newcastle, England: Pig Press, 1977); Wish you where here (with Antony Lopez) (London: Transgravity Press, 1979); All the Wrong Notes (Durham, England: Pig Press, 1981); Faded Ribbons (Leamington Spa, England: Other Branch Readings, 1982); Monster Masks (Durham, England: Pig Press, 1985); Crossing the Frozen River: Selected Poems (London: Paladin, 1988); Rope Boy to the Rescue (Twickenham, England: North & South, 1988); Morning Light (London: Slow Dancer Press, 1998); Etruscan Reader Vi (with Robin Blaser and Barbara Guest) Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: Etruscan Books, 1998); The Causeway: Poems (Nottingham, England: Leafe Press, 1999); Collected Poems 1964-2004 (Exeter, England: Shearsman, 2004); Gifts Received: 6 poems to friends (Artery Editions, 2007); Selected Poems (Exeter, England: Shearsman, 2008);  The Books (Swindon, England: Longbarrow Press, 2011); The Orchid Boat (London: Enitharmon Press, 2014)

July 24, 2015

César Vallejo (Peru) 1892-1938

César Vallejo (Peru)

The great Peruvian poet, César Abraham Vallejo was born on March 16, 1892 in Santiago de Chuco, a small rural community in the central part of Peru. Both his grandmothers were Chimu Indians and both grandfathers were Spanish Catholic priests, and accordingly, as one of eleven children, Vallejo grew up in a world of deep religious devotion.
     In 1910, he entered the School of Philosophy and Letters at Trujillo University, but because of a lack of funds, he had to drop out, starting his education again later and dropping out again to become a tutor and to work in the accounts department of a large sugar estate, the later job of which affected his political views.

In 1913 he again enrolled at Trujillo University, studying literature and law, and reading intensely on subjects about mythology and evolution. Upon receiving a M.A. in Spanish literature in 1915, Vallejo continued to study law. But his life in Trujillo had become complicated because of a scandalous love affair, forcing him to move to Lima.
     There he found work as the principal of a noted school, while, at night, visiting the opium dens of Chinatown and hanging out in the local Bohemian cafes where he met such noted figures as the leftist Manual Gonzalez Prada. In 1919, his first book of poetry, Los heraldos negros (The Black Messengers) was published to great acclaim.
     Refusing to marry a woman with whom he had an affair, Vallejo lost his administrative position. In 1920, with the death of his mother and the loss of yet another teaching job, he visited his home, during which time a feud broke out before his arrival. Writing about the events surrounding the shooting of a subprefect and the burning of a general store, Vallejo was himself blamed as an “intellectual instigator,” and, despite protests from the local papers and a flurry of telegrams, was arrested and imprisoned for 105 days. Released, he bitterly returned to Lima.
      In 1922 he published the major work of his career, Trilce, a work written while in hiding. The work, one of the most radically avant-garde works of Spanish language poetry, the work was also hermetic in its approach to language, but has since its original publication become one of the classics of South American literature. 
      He continued to teach in Lima, but in 1923, his position was eliminated, and he feared having to return to jail. After publishing two short story collections, Escalas melografiadas and Fabla salvaje, Vallejo, accepted the invitation of his friend Julio Gálvez to immigrate to Paris.
     He and his friend lived in near-starving conditions in the French capital. And only in 1925 did Vallejo find a regular job in a press agency, receiving a grant from the Spanish government to continue his law studies at the University of Madrid.
     Vallejo, however, was not required to remain on campus, and quickly returned to Paris. The educational grant and small amounts of money he received from journalistic contributions, enable the poet to move into the Hotel Richelieu in 1926, a time in which he also frequented art exhibitions, concerts, and cafès, meeting and becoming friends with Antonin Artaud, Pablo Picasso, and Jean Cocteau. Throughout this period he continued to write poetry that would create a bridge to his compassionate and bitter poetry of his later years.
     In 1927 he received the news that the tribunal concerning his case in Peru and been given orders to arrest him. He was forced to leave his position at the press agency and to refuse further educational grants. By 1928, his financial condition having worsened, he began reading Marxist literature and became a committed Communist, traveling in September of that year to Russian, and returning to form the Peruvian Socialist party with other Paris-based expatriates.
     Abandoning poetry, he devoted himself to writing a book of Marxist theory. Moving in with his long-time lover, Georgette Philipart, he wrote his first drama, Mampar. Throughout these years he continued to write numerous scripts, leaving about 600 pages of unpublished materials at the time of his death.
     The same year, Vallejo was arrested by the police in a Paris railroad station and ordered to immediately leave France. Returning to Madrid, he wrote is only long fiction, El tungsteno in 1931. With the fall of the Spanish Monarchy and the proclamation of the Republic, Vallejo joined the Spanish Communist party, publishing Rusia en (1932), which brought him enormous attention, despite the fact he could no longer find publishers for his other writings.
     In January 1932, he and Philipart returned to Paris to find that their apartment had been sacked by the police. In 1933, he finally obtained a resident permit to live in Madrid, and left Paris again with nothing but the clothing he wore. Forbidden to engage in any political activities, the writer documented his darkest years, 1933 – 1936, writing prose works, and, once again, poetry, which would appear in numerous volumes, including España, aparte de mi este cálize (Spain, Take This Cup from Me), published in 1939; Sermón de la barbarie (Sermon on Barbarism) 1939, and Poemas humanos (Human Poems) (also 1939).
     In 1934 he married Philipart, at one of the most financial dire periods of his life. In 1936, Vallejo again found a teaching position, and the Fascist uprising in Spain in July brought him to a pitch of creative activity.
     In July 1937, the Vallejos returned to Spain, now deep in civil war, to take part in the Second International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture. Over 200 writers attended, and Vallejo was elected the Peruvian representative. In Spain, he witnessed the horrors of the Spanish civil war first hand. In Paris again Vallejo composed a fifteen-scene tragedy, La piedra cansada (1937), and wrote the poems of España, aparte de mi este cálize and Sermón de la barbarie.
     In March of 1938, after years of struggle and near starvation, Vallejo developed a lingering fever, and could not leave his bed. His condition only worsened with medical attention, and on April 15, about the same time the Fascists reached the Mediterranean, cutting off the Loyalist forces from one another, Vallejo died, crying out, “I am going to Spain! I want to go to Spain.”
    Originally buried in the Communist cemetery, Montrouge, in the southern part of Paris, the poet’s remains were later moved to the cemetery in Montparnasse by his wife, Georgette, in the 1960s.
     Many of his previously unpublished works were printed throughout the 1950s and 1960s, including El romanticism en la poesia cstellana, Rusia ante el Segundo plan quinquenal, Literatura y arte, and Desde Europa (1987). Green Integer published his previously uncollected Aphorisms in 2002.


Los heraldos negros (Lima, Peru: Ediciones Santiago Aguilar,1918); Trilce (1922); Nómina de huesos (1936); España, aparte de mí este cálize (1939); Sermón de la barbarie (1939); Poemas humanos (1939); España, aparte de mí este cálize (México, D.F.: Editorial Séenca, 1940); Antologia de César Vallejo (Buenos Aires, Editorial Claridad, 1942); Antología (Lima: hora del Hombre, 1948); Poesías completes (Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada, 1949)


Twenty Poems, trans. by John Knoepfle, James Wright, and Robert Bly (Madison, Minnesota: Sixties Press, 1962-1963); Poemas humanos. Human Poems, trans. by Clayton Eshleman (New York: Grove Press, 1968);Ten Versions from Trilce (Cerrillos, New Mexico: San Marcos Press, 1970); Neruda and Vallejo: Selected Poems, Robert Bly, John Knoepfle, and James Wright, trans. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971); Spain, Let This Cup Pass from Me, trans. by Alvaro Cardona-Hine (Fairfax, California: Red Hill Press, 1972); Spain, Take This Cup from Me, trans. by Clayton Eshleman and José Rubia Barcia (New York: Grove Press, 1974); Selected Poems of César Vallejo, trans. by Ed Dorn and Gordon Brotherston (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1976); Battles in Spain: Five Unpublished Poems, trans. by Clayton Eshleman and José Rubia Barcia (1978, 1980); César Vallejo: The Complete Posthumous Poetry, trans. by Clayton Eshleman and José Rubia Barcia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978); Selected Poems / César Vallejo, trans. by H. R. Hays (Old Chatham, New York: Sachem Press, 1981);  César Vallejo: A Selection of His Poetry, trans. by James Higgins (Liverpool, England: F. Cairns, 1987); César Vallejo: An Anthology of His Poetry (Oxford, England: Pergamon Press, 1970); The Black Heralds, trans. by Richard Schaaf and Kathleen Ross (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Latin American Literary Review Press, 1990, 2003); Trilce, trans. by Rebecca Seiferle (New York: Sheep Meadow Press, 1992); The Black Heralds, trans. by Barry Fogden (East Sussex, England: Allardyce, Barnett, 1995); The Black Heralds, trans. by Rebecca Seiferle (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 2003); Chasing Vallejo: Selected Poems, trans. by Gerard Malanga (Berkeley, California: Three Rooms Press, 2014) Selected Writings of César Vallejo, trans. by Joseph Mulligan (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2015)  

Scared (XXVII from Trilce)

This spurt frightens me,
memorable, masterful, implacable
cruel sweetness. It scares me.
This house is perfectly pleasing, the whole
reason for this condition of not knowing where to go.
Let’s not enter. I fear the present, the allowance
to return at any moment, across blasted bridges.
I won’t push any further, sweet sir,
gallant reflection, sad
song of skeleton bones.
How peacefully, he of this enchanted house
spends my quicksilver; and plugs
my orifices leading
to a dried-out actuality.

--Translated from the Spanish by Douglas Messerli

July 23, 2015

Oskar Loerke (Germany) 1884-1941

Oskar Loerke (Germany)

Oskar Loerke was born on March 13, 1884, in Schwetz, West Prussia, now part of Poland. From 1903-1906 he studied history, German literature, philosophy, and music, in Berlin. In 1906 he ended he studies meeting his wife, Clara Westphal.
        From 1908 to 1914 Loerke undertook extensive trips through Germany and France, documenting his travels in diaries. Loerke’s first publication, however, was the story collection Vineta (1907).
        In 1909, he met Mortiz Heimann, an editor at S. Fischer Verlag, developing a long-time friendship with him.

In 1911 the author published his first collection of poems, in Berlin, Wanderschaft. More poems followed in 1916, 1921, 1926, and at regular intervals through the rest of his life. In 1913, he was awarded the Kleist Prize, using the money to travel to Italy and Algiers. 

       From 1910-1917 Loerke was a member of the Berlin-centered “Thursday society” (Donnerstags-Gesellschaft), a group which discussed literature, music, and painting. Also in 1917 the poet joined the staff as an editor at S. Fischer Verlag, there encountering and getting know several of their writers, including Thomas Mann, and soon after, Max Herrmann-Neisse and Walter Rheinermark. 
       During these same years, the author also continued to writer short and longer fiction in volumes such as Der Turnbau (1910), Das Goldbergwerk (1919), Chimärenreiter (1919), Der Prinz und der Tiger (1919), and Der Oger (1921), which, like his poetry, was alternately were influenced by Expressionism and what later would be described as magic realism.
       Between 1920 and 1928 Loerke wrote numerous essays and reviews in the Berliner Börsen-Courier, becoming in the early 1930s a regular contributor to the literary magazine, The Column (Die Kolonne), in which he provided numerous nature poems. In 1926 he became a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts, two years becoming a secretary of the Academy’s Poetry section.   
        In 1933 Loerke was banned from the Academy by the Nazis, but he continued to be involved in the Berlin intellectual life, organizing literary evening as the Berliner Verlag Rabenpresse. Soon after his expulsion from the Academy, moreover, Loerke signed as one of the faithful followers of Hitler, ostensibly to protect his company’s Jewish owner, Samuel Fischer. Soon after he rejoined the politically cleansed German Academy of Literature, but soon retired, although he did publish in one of the Goebbels controlled magazines, Das Reich.
       Nonetheless, Loerke’s poems were banned by the Nazis and the poet became one of the authors, who were described as “internal emigrants,” individuals who virtually disappeared from public life.  
         He died in 1941.


Wanderschaft (Berlin: in the pages of Blauer Abend, 1911); Gedichte (1916, reprinted as Pansmusik (Berlin: S. Fischer, 1929); Die heimliche Stadt (1921); Der längste Tag (Berlin: S. Fischer, 1926); Atem der Erde. Sieben Gedichtkreise, (Berlin: S. Fischer,1930); Der Silberdistelwald (Berlin: S. Fischer, 1934); Der Wald der Welt (1936);  Ausgewählte Gedichte (1938); Kärntner Sommer (1939); Der Steinpfad (1941); Die Abschiedshand. Letzte Gedichte (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 1949); Gesamtausgabe der Gedichte Oskar Loerke. Sämtliche Gedichte (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2010)

For a poem and another bio of Oskar Loerke, go here:



Peter Rühmkorf (Germany) 1929-2008

Peter Rühmkorf (Germany)

 Born in Dortmund, Germany on October 25, 1929, Peter Rühmkorf began writing poetry while he was still in school in Hamburg, becoming involved also in various other literary and theater projects. He suddenly broke off in his studies in 1957, becoming an editor, with Werner Riegel, of Zwischen den Kriegen (“Between the Wars”) from 1958-1964. Both he and Riegel were among the founders of the Studentenkurier, a monthly that was highly popular among German intellectuals and students.  
      Rühmkorf also became politically active and remained so throughout his life.

In 1959, the poet published his first book of poetry, Irdisches Vergnügen in g., a work which puns on a title of poem by the Baroque writer Brockes. His second book, Kunststücke (1962), which consisted primarily of literary parodies. His 1979 work Haltbar bis Ende 1999 (“Durable until 1999”) argues seeming for a poetry that is neither permanent nor “beautiful.”
      Most of these works were not taken seriously by the poetic community until the mid-1970s, when his poetry had finally become highly influential, with the poet winning some of the most notable of German literary awards, including the Georg Büchner Prize, the Heinrich Heine Prize, the Erich Kästner Prize, and the Arno Schmidt Prize.
      Rühmkorf also read on stage on in records accompanied by major jazz musicians such as Michael Naura (on piano) and Wolfgang Schlüter (on vibes).
      The poet also wrote under numerous pseudonyms, including Leo Doletzki, Leslie Maier, Johannes Fontara, Lyng, John Frieder, Hans-Werner Weber, Harry Flieder, and Hans Hingst.
       Rühmkorf died in Roseburg, Schleswig-Holstein in 2008.


Heiße Lyrik (with Werner Riegel) (Weisbaden: Limes, 1956); Irdisches Vergnügen in g. (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1959); Kunststücke. Fünfzig Gedichte nebst einer Anleitung zum Widerspruch (Hamburg: Rowohlt,1962; Phoenix – voran! Gedichte (Dreieich: pawel pan,1977); Strömungslehre I. Poesie (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1978; Haltbar bis Ende 1999 (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1979; Im Fahrtwind. Gedichte und Geschichte (Berlin: Bertelsmann, Berlin, 1980; Außer der Liebe nichts. Liebesgedichte (Reinbek: Rowohlt,1986); Selbstredend und selbstreimend. Gedichte – Gedanken – Lichtblicke (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1987; Komm raus! Gesänge, Märchen, Kunststücke (Berlin: Wagenbach, 1992); Gedichte (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1996); Lethe mit Schuß. Gedichte (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1998); wenn – aber dann. Vorletzte. Gedichte (Reinbek: Rowalt, 1999); Von mir zu Euch für uns,( Göttingen: Steidl, 1999); In gemeinsamer Sache. Gedichte über Liebe und Tod, Natur und Kunst (with Robert Gernhardt) (Zürich: Haffmans, 2000); Funken fliegen zwischen Hut und Schuh. Lichtblicke, Schweifsterne, Donnerkeile (ed. Stefan Ulrich Meyer) Munich: Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, 2003); Aufwachen und Wiederfinden. Gedichte (Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 2007); Paradiesvogelschiß. Gedichte (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 2008).


In Charlotte Melin, trans. German Poetry in Transition 1945-1990 (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1999).


With Our Saved Necks

With our saved necks from the rabble
Of a hostile lynching mob,
We roam from Belsen to Babel
Carbolic rinsed, our heads throb.

Once we slopped life’s swill
Celebrating at times in vain
What’s under our hatbill
That sacred relic, the brain.

Tattooed with the world’s lye.
But still we manage to stand,
The whites glint in our eyes,
The warmth sweats in our hand.

We’ve suffered and we’ve clamored
With dew and fluff penned petitions—
In turn, words lost, words hammered,
In eternally spun repetitions.

—Translated from the German by Charlotte Melin

Copyright ©1999 by Charlotte Melin, published in German Poetry in Transition: 1945-1990 (Hnover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1999).