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Europe: Don’t Look Away, 16 New German Poets
 (Burning Deck) & New European Poets

By Forrest Gander

New European Poets
, Edited by Wayne Miller & Kevin Prufer (Graywolf, 2008)
There’s a lot to complain about Graywolf’s New European Poets
, edited by Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer, but only if you’re a sneering, retromingent malcontent. Otherwise, it’s impossible not to celebrate this book with a big whooping hurrah. It was published in 2008, the same year that Americans were skewered by The Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary, Horace Engdahl, for being insular, disinterested in translations, and influenced almost exclusively by our own culture. What Miller and Prufer bring to us is not an assemblage of the usual suspects, those big shot European writers whose names have seeped, against the odds, into our consciousness.
(If you are thinking of stopping here, at least read the poem at the end of this entry; you won’t forget it soon).

Ales Steger of Slovenia and Andre Veltner of France
They’ve delivered youngbloods and surging middle-aged talents and still a few of the older poets as well. (All published their first books after 1970). Even as the editors have snagged (necessarily) mere handfuls of writers from various countries, they’ve covered an astonishing range of aesthetics, from the very-distinct-from-each-other avant-garde lyrics of Chus Pato (Galicia, Spain), Emmanuel Hocquard (France), and Drew Milne (England) to the elegant formal
Uwe Kolbe of Germany and Senadin Musabegovic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
stanzas of Uwe Kolbe (Germany) and Dariusz Suska (Poland), from the politically-tinged Surrealism of Lidija Dimkovska (Macedonia) and Barbara Korun (Slovenia) to the respectively weird and profane prose poems of Ann Jäderlund (Sweden) and Radu Andriescu (Romania).
Lidija Dimkovska of Macedonia and Barbara Korun of Slovenia
The range of poetry styles is well-matched by the range of translators; and the book is dedicated, generously, “to all who translate.” This is not only the most necessary recent anthology I’ve seen, it’s the most adventurous. New European Poets
 is one of those actual instances of a book that is very hard to put down. With its stand-out handsome cover, it makes (in case any holidays were approaching and you were wondering what I’d recommend), a durable gift to yourself and friends. Prufer and Miller: great work!
16 New (to American Readers) German Poets
, Ed. by Rosmarie Waldrop, Burning Deck 2008
“That I should read you/ as you would reach me” writes Ute Eisinger in a new collection of innovative German and Austrian poets just published in Burning Deck’s “Dichten=” series. Most of the writers in 16 New (to American Readers) German Poets
 are in their thirties and forties. Three of my favorites are Anja Utler, Franz Josef Czernin (one of the
Anya Utler of Austria
elders), and Uljana Wolf. Here, we’re given more ample selections of the poets (than in the Graywolf anthology) and so we get more of a chance to come under their spell, so to speak (and as regards spelling, see the “Penis-defizit” poem below.) Among the translators are the excellent poets Christian Hawkey, Andrew Duncan, and Rosmarie Waldrop.
ILSA AND LISA by Margret Kreidl
Peniz-defizit. Ilsa indulges in fantasies. Traumatic cut.
I am castrated. Lisa giggles. Ilsa, frustrated: ego-formation
is important. Lisa masturbates. Ideal-ego Ego-ideal? Lisa
laughs. No matter. Jujube jam jar. Honey flows. Lisa enjoys
narcissistically. Ilsa projects: The image is me. Ilsa is Lisa’s
mirror. Things burst. Lisa grins: prickling nipple
teasers? Ilsa’s impulse-ego grows dense. Giant
glitter dildo? Ilsa is happy. Ticklefinger lipthriller?
Impulse-aim furrow fissure. Ilsa jubilates: libido fluctuates.
Fresh crevice. Pleasure principle. Fi. Lisa spits. Ilsa fishes. Bi- or what?
Lisa does without: sublimation’s the right thing. Ilsa regresses,
oral-sadistic. Impulse-fate? Lisa is sweating. Clitoris principle.
Lisa trembles. Ilsa eats Lisa.
Translated by Rosmarie Waldrop
All photos by Forrest Gander

Comments (4)

  • On November 29, 2008 at 10:54 am andrea wrote:

    “…disinterested in translations”? Oh Forrest, how could you?

  • On November 29, 2008 at 12:30 pm Forrest Gander wrote:

    Andrea– not quite sure what you mean, but am guessing. Disinterest as in “absence of interest, unconcern”– OED.

  • On November 29, 2008 at 8:49 pm "noah freed" wrote:

    Chomsky often uses this dispute as an example of the idiocy of prescriptivism. The words have been regarded (& what’s truly important, used) interchangeably for centuries (the OED cites John Donne making the same putative solecism Andrea tsks Forrest for). Give it a rest.
    I speak, of course, as a disinterested observer.

  • On January 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm Lucas wrote:

    The post was interesting. The follow-up quibble, disinteresting.

Posted in Uncategorized on Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 by Forrest Gander.