berlin in the haus
On the train ride from Munich to Berlin, (6 hour ride). Matthea Harvey, Ron Winkler and I (along with some help from Kevin Young and Uljana Wolf intermittenly) discuss a rough draft translation of a poem of Ron`s into English. We go through it line by line, phrase by phrase, discussing many little details, like the different implications of "fact" and "data", and trying to figure out of there is an expression in English for a boy whose ears stick, something more elegant than Dumbo. It is fascinating to look at all the choices that get made, and how you sometimes need to deviate from the literal to get to a poem´s essence.
The 4 poets we are touring with are all doing very well career-wise in Germany. Steffen Popp has a well recieved novel and a book of poems. Uljana Wolf just won a big award that resulted in her doing readings all over the country, and Ron Winkler has two books out and has won several prizes. Jan Wagner is doing good stuff too.
I am hoping that this tour is just the beginning of a longer relationship. Ron will be in the US in November; his poems are being used in a musical performance at Zankel Hall (Carnegie Hall). I am hoping that some of these poets will have work appear in US literary journals. We US poets need to hear and read the work of young poets from around the globe. We need to be exposed to different poetic traditions and different ways of approaching a poem.
This is totally a poetic wet dream, but imagine a young poets convention somewhere on Earth where 10 poets under 40 from every country assemble for a week to share work. I hope it happens quick: my days of being under 40 are severely numbered, I turn 40 in 10 days.
Tonight we will have our final reading in Berlin, at the Literaturhaus. The next night, Saturday, Derek Walcott is reading outdoors as part of some huge week-long, city-wide poetry festival.
Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Other books include The Endarkenment (Pittsburgh, 2008), The Splinter Factory (Manic D, 2002), The Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998), and Alibi School (Manic D, 1995). His poems have...