DARKNESS SPOKEN: COLLECTED POEMS OF INGEBORG BACHMANN
From the German by Peter Filkins
ISBN 0-939010-84-4 (paper) $24.95
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5½ x 8¼
688 pages [bilingual German/English]
Darkness Spoken gathers together Bachmann's two celebrated books of poetry, as well as the early and late poems not collected in book form. This new, expanded edition contains 129 poems recently released from Bachmann's archives and which have never before been translated. Twenty-five of these also appear in German in this bilingual edition for the first time anywhere. The addition of these new poems will help expand awareness of Bachmann's development as a writer, as well as the fact that she continued to write poetry throughout her career, even while developing the ideas for her groundbreaking novels. Just as Bachmann's Malina sought to expand the possibilities of the novel, Darkness Spoken contains the bedrock of a vision as far reaching as it is indelible, and as uncompromising as it is bound to hope. Through translation of the poems, scholarly notes, and a critical introduction, this volume will supply the foundation necessary to draw attention to Bachmann's achievement on the part of readers and critics alike.
Ingeborg Bachmann was born in 1926 in Klagenfurt, Austria. She studied philosophy at the universities of Innsbruck, Graz, and Vienna, where she wrote her dissertation on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. In 1953 she received the poetry prize from Gruppe 47 for her first volume, Borrowed Time (Die gestundete Zeit), after which there followed her second collection, Invocation of the Great Bear (Anrufung des großen Bären), in 1956. Bachmann also went on to write short stories, essays, opera libretti, and novels, including The Thirtieth Year, Malina, and The Book of Franza. At the time of her death in a fire in Rome in 1973, Bachmann was at work on a cycle of novels titled Todesarten (Ways of Dying), of which Malina was the first published volume.
Along with her close friend Paul Celan, Bachmann was considered the premiere German language poet of her generation. Her various awards include the Georg Büchner Prize, the Berlin Critics Prize, the Bremen Award, and the Austrian State Prize for literature. Her work remains highly influential to this day, and she is now regarded as a pioneer of European feminism and postwar literature. Influencing numerous writers from Thomas Bernhard to Christa Wolf, Bachmann's poetic investigation into the nature and limits of language in the face of history remains unmatched in its ability to combine philosophical insight with haunting lyricism.
Peter Filkins has published two volumes of poetry, What She Knew (1998) and After Homer (2002), and has translated Bachmann's The Book of Franza and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann. He is the recipient of an Outstanding Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association, and the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin. He teaches at Simon's Rock College of Bard in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
APPROACHING YOU IN ENGLISH
From the Hebrew by Lisa Katz with Shlomit Naim-Naor
ISBN 978-0-9815521-4-9 (trade paper) $15 US/ $17 CAN
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6 x 8
128 pages [bilingual Hebrew/English]
Listen to an interview with Admiel Kosman and Lisa Katz at the Jewish Daily Forward, December 2011.
Kosman knows how to craft humor, irony, many of the more refined tones—nothing seems to elude his poetic abilities. But despite Kosman’s exquisite exercises in tone and topics, the reader is drawn in above all because of this mysterious light: a strange sense of communication with something beyond, with something transcendent that is present in nearly all of the poems that make up Approaching You In English… Translator Lisa Katz has done a tremendous job… She has allowed new readers to peer, too, into the cracks and slits in the ceiling and connect with that something beyond.
—E.C. Belli, Words Without Borders
Admiel Kosman's first book to appear in English draws from all nine of his books of poetry that have been published in Hebrew, as well as new, unpublished work. His poems explore multiple tensions — between prayer and modern life, sacred texts and eroticism, language and translation, gender and identity — while also resisting the very nature of such categorizations. Approaching You in English includes an introduction by translator Lisa Katz that quotes extensively from an interview with Kosman, and an afterword by Shlomit Naim-Naor that explores some of the gender issues in his poetry.
In addition to his poetry, Admiel Kosman has published three scholarly volumes on gender and sexuality in traditional Jewish texts. Raised in an Orthodox home, he studied art at the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem, and later received a Ph.D. in Talmud from Bar-Ilan University. He teaches religious and Jewish studies at Potsdam University in Berlin, and serves as academic director of the Abraham Geiger Reform Seminary, the first Reform rabbinical college to open in Germany since the Holocaust.
Lisa Katz is the author of Reconstruction (Am Oved), and the translator of Look There: New and Selected Poems of Agi Mishol (Graywolf). Her poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications; she works as a translator for the English edition of the Israeli daily, Haaretz. In 2008, she won the Mississippi Review Poetry Prize.
Shlomit Naim-Naor is the deputy director of Melitz, an educational organization in Jerusalem, and an international speaker on Israeli poetry, literature and Jewish texts. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Ben Gurion University and a BA in Philosophy and Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has written extensively about Kosman's poetry.
THE CHANGING ROOM
From the Chinese by Andrea Lingenfelter
ISBN 978-0-9815521-3-2 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
163 pages [bilingual Chinese/English]
Zhai Yongming is one of China’s leading poets, and this bilingual selection from major poems across decades demonstrates why. Beautifully translated by Andrea Lingenfelter, Zhai’s poetry is sensuous, mysterious, provocative, gritty, and her singular black night consciousness shines through.
Powerful as a tremor in the Sichuan Basin, the poetic voice we hear in The Changing Room is a touching, elegant, often ironic, testimony of being Chinese and being a Chinese woman.
—Yunte Huang, author of Charlie Chan
While Zhai Yongming’s poems from the 1980s owed much to Anglophone Confessional poets, even then Zhai’s voice was unmistakably her own. With imagery dominated by night, darkness, blood, sex, and death, those early poems also directly engaged traditional Chinese cultural paradigms. Zhai’s recasting of Chinese yin and yang cosmology along feminist lines was a dominant thread in a body of work that was otherwise intensely personal and contemporary. Over time, she has continued to go back to China’s literary and historical past, using it as a source of inspiration, as a counterpoint to modern experience, and as part of an ongoing dialogue with patriarchal Confucian historiography.
—from the Translator’s Foreword by Andrea Lingenfelter
The author of six volumes of poetry, Zhai Yongming first became prominent in the mid-1980s with the publication of her twenty-poem cycle, “Woman,” a work that forcefully articulated a female point-of-view in China’s largely patriarchal society. Her powerful imagery and forthright voice resonated with many readers. Zhai has continued to hone her critique of traditional attitudes towards women, quickly becoming one of China’s foremost feminist voices and a major force in the contemporary literary scene. She is also an installation artist and prolific essayist, and stages poetry readings and other cultural events at the bar she owns in her native Chengdu.
Andrea Lingenfelter received her MA from Yale University and her PhD from the University of Washington. She is also the translator of the novels, Candy (Back Bay, 2003), Farewell to My Concubine (W. Morrow, 1993), and The Last Princess of Manchuria (Morrow, 1992). Lingenfelter currently lives in Berkeley.
MLB (Milosz Biedrzycki)
From the Polish by Frank L. Vigoda
ISBN 978-0-939010-99-8 (trade paper) $16.00
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6 x 8
208 pages [bilingual Polish/English
If you’re going to purchase one book of poetry this year, make it [MLB’s] latest collection, 69.
—Shaun Randol, The Mantle
MLB's extraordinary linguistic awareness and amused wonderment with language lurk beneath all his poetry. One of the principal authors of the "bruLion" generation, which has been influenced by American poets such as Frank O'Hara, Allen Ginsberg, and John Ashbery, MLB has published six volumes of poetry and received numerous prestigious literary prizes. Three of his volumes were inspired by the avant-garde and surrealist traditions, and presented the reader with riddle-poems to solve. The work in this bilingual edition is from his 2006 volume, 69, which encompasses his poetic output from the fall of Communism to the present, allowing the reader to trace the process of personal and artistic development during the rapidly changing post-Communist years.
MLB was born in 1967 in Slovenia, graduated with a degree in Geophysics at Krakow’s Academy of Mining and Metallurgy, and now divides his time between Krakow and the Middle East. In addition to his work as a geophysical engineer, he works on the editorial board of the quarterly, bruLion. English translations of his work have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Trafika, Chicago Review, Fence, Zoland Poetry, and the Zephyr Press anthology Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird. (photo by Marta Eloy Cichocka)
Frank L. Vigoda’s translations, primarily from Polish, have appeared in a variety of publications, including Modern Poetry in Translation, Polin, Studies in Polish Jewry, Lyric Poetry Review, Chicago Review, Absinthe: New European Writing, Circumference, and Fence. Long-time translation projects include the work of Aleksander Wat, Rafal Wojaczek, Urke Nachalnik, and two young Polish poets, Marcin Jagodzinski and Kamil Zajac.
THE FORGOTTEN KEYS
From the Polish by Mira Rosenthal
ISBN 0-939010-92-5 (paper) $14.95
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6 x 8
128 pages [bilingual Polish/English]
“Personal” for Różycki means also transpersonal; the persona of his poetry holds the memory of an entire family or tribe, or perhaps even of society in general. And there's no mockery here. Różycki's poetry is serious, a private response to the historic moment. Without a doubt, a vital new poet has emerged from the Polish language.
Tomasz Różycki belongs to a group of outstanding younger poets from Silesia, a region in Poland that bears the mark of a distinct mixture of cultures. Many families were relocated to the region in a forced migration after World War II, and shifting borders have likewise added influences from Germany and other neighboring countries. Through translations of a selection of poems from Różycki's five collections of poetry in Polish, as well as a critical introduction, The Forgotten Keys acquaints readers with a distinctive and formidable Polish writer. Unlike other contemporary Polish poets who clearly reject the heavy historicism of Czesław Miłosz and Zbigniew Herbert, Różycki claims such influence, exploring both personal and collective memory.
The translator Mira Rosenthal is a poet and founding editor of Lyric Poetry Review. She has been a Fulbright Fellow to Poland and selected and edited a special issue of Lyric on new Polish poetry in translation. Her work has appeared in the journals Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, and Notre Dame Review, among others.
ANXIETY OF WORDS: CONTEMPORARY POETRY
BY KOREAN WOMEN
Ch'oe Sung-ja, Kim Hyesoon, Yi Yon-ju
From the Korean by Don Mee Choi
ISBN 0-939010-87-9 (paper) $16.00
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6 x 9
200 pages [Bilingual Korean/English]
Don Mee Choi, a fine poet herself, has translated both the spirit and words of these outsiders and experimenters into poetry that is just as striking to English-speakers as it was to Koreans under the dictatorship of Park Chung Hee when it was first written. Anxiety of Words has widened the conversation of Korean poetry to include the voice of Korean women—a voice that needs to be heard.
—American Poet, Spring 2007
Anxiety of Words is the first anthology of Korean women's poetry that challenges one of Korea's most enduring literary traditions: that “yoryu” (female) poetry must be gentle and subservient. By using innovative language, and vividly depicting women's lives and struggles within an often repressive society, these three contemporary poets defiantly insist that poetry can be part of social change—indeed, that it must be. Ch'oe Sung-ja, Kim Hyesoon, and Yi Yon-ju have written unforgettable poems that now, thanks to Don Mee Choi's translations, are available to English-speaking readers for the first time. With a lengthy introduction on the history of women's poetry in Korea, and biographical notes on the three poets, this volume is an eye-opening exploration for any reader interested in Korea, poetry, and contemporary women's literature.
These are pioneering translations of three women who are themselves pioneers in a patriarchal literary culture. In bringing these remarkable poems to life in English, Don Mee Choi is breaking down lingering barriers to writing women in Korea. This poetry has long cried out for an audience within and without Korea, and now it will finally receive the hearing it deserves.
—Bruce Fulton, Young-Bin Min Chair in Korean Literature and Literary Translation, University of British Columbia
In Anxiety of Words Don Mee Choi shatters the barrier between West and East to bring us the defiant, vulnerable and intellectually fierce collective voice of Korean women poets. In this historic anthology of work heretofore unavailable in English, Choi gives us access to dynamic and unforgettable poems. This book is a must-read for lovers of literature and for anyone who wants to hear complex truths from women in struggle with their globalizing world.
—Minnie Bruce Pratt
Ch'oe Sung-ja (b. 1952) is one of the most highly regarded contemporary women poets of South Korea. Ch'oe studied German literature at Korea University at a time when there were only two hundred women enrolled in the entire university. She began writing poetry while in college and became the first woman editor of Korea University's literary journal. In 1979, Ch'oe became the first woman poet to be published in a literary journal, Literature and Intellect. Ch'oe's poetry, which violated the criteria of decorum that had been long imposed on women poets, caused a stir in South Korea's predominantly male literary establishment. Ch'oe is part of the new wave of feminist poets of Korea to merge after the early pioneering women poets of the 1920s and 30s, who explored and gave voice to women's lives under the oppressive patriarchy. Ch'oe published four collections of poetry between 1981 and 1993. In 1994, she participated in the Iowa International Writers' Program. She now works as a literary translator in Seoul, and is translating a collection of short stories by J.D. Salinger.
Kim Hyesoon's (b. 1955) poetry first appeared in Literature and Intellect, the same journal in which Ch'oe's work also made its debut. Kim majored in Korean literature for her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She is a member of Another Culture, an organization which emerged in the 1980s and has played a critical role in feminist literary research and publication, including the development of women's studies in South Korea. Kim teaches creative writing and Korean poetry at Seoul College of Arts. In 2001, Kim received the So-wol Poetry Award. Her book of poetry, Seoul, My Upanishad (Munhak kwa jisongsa, 1994) was awarded the Kim Su-yong Contemporary Poetry Award in 2000. Kim is the first woman to receive this coveted award. In her work she explores women's multiple and simultaneous existence as grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and lovers. Kim Hyesoon has published seven collections of poetry; her most recent publication is a collection of critical essays about women and writing.
Yi Yon-ju made her literary debut in a journal called World of Writers (1991). The same year, Yi's first book of poetry, A Night Market Where There Are Prostitutes, was published by Sekyesa, a well-known literary press in South Korea. Yi's second collection of poems was published in 1993 after her death. According to the renowned feminist critic Kim Chong-nan, Yi's poetry has a critical place in the poetry of the 1980s. Yi depicts in her poetry women who live on the fringes of South Korean society, marginalized by the rapid industrialization of the 1970s and 80s, which, in part, was made possible by the exploitation of young women from poor rural areas. Not much is known about Yi's life. According to her brother, Yi Yong-ju, the night Yi committed suicide she had asked him not to reveal anything about her life except for her date and place of birth.
Don Mee Choi is a translator and scholar of Korean literature. Her literary focus is on the exploration of the cultural, historical, and political roles of contemporary Korean women's poetry and the critical examination of literary translation in the context of South Korea's post-coloniality. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington.
SAY THANK YOU
From the Russian by J. Kates
ISBN 0-939010-88-7 (paper) $14.95
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5¼ x 8
136 pages [Bilingual Russian/English]
With this book, American readers are introduced to the work of an important contemporary Russian poet, whose world-view and aesthetic will seem at once welcome in its otherness and pertinently familiar. Aizenberg's poetry brings the surreal into the quotidian, is of the present moment while partaking of an urban world-view that would have been recognizable to Benjamin or Baudelaire. In J. Kates' translations, these poems have a new and discrete life in English.
The young Mandelstam did not know what to do with his body. M. Aizenberg does not know what to do with his soul.
Fresh & marvelous…a philosophical innovator always pressing new thoughts out of language, each poem a repeated surprise…. These poems and their skilled translations are our antennae through the darkness.
—F. D. Reeve
Mikhail Aizenberg has lived and breathed and had his being at the heart of the last generation of poets that came to maturity under the regime of the Soviet Union. He has been not only one of its most eloquent practitioners, but also its chronicler and interpreter.
In his own poetry he articulates the wildly erratic internal, personal climate of the political global warming that Russia has undergone. When the cultural history of Russia's turn from the twentieth to the twenty-first century is written, the epigraphs to the chapters will be drawn from Aizenberg's verses.
He has published four books of poems and two of criticism. In English translation his poems have appeared in Russia (Glas and Hungry Russian Winter) England (Novostroika), New Zealand (Takahe) the United States (Delos, Dirty Goat, Green Mountains Review, Harvard Review, International Quarterly, Kenyon Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, Onthebus, Plum Review, River Styx, Mr. Cogito, Salamander) and Australia (Salt) as well as in the anthologies Third Wave: The New Russian Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 1992), Crossing Centuries (Talisman, 2002), and In the Grip of Strange Thoughts (Zephyr Press, 1999) to which he also contributed an introduction.
Light rain falls as quietly
as the footfall of an Indian guide.
Nettles here, buckwheat there.
Who tends these? Not I, the mushroom-gatherer.
A cloud of spruce needles,
scales from a dragon,
but I see nothing, not I.
I hear nothing, not I.
I only hear, softer than a breath,
the wind blowing over me,
an alder-elder rustles
distantly beyond the stillness.
From the level pale blue sky
from a corner not so far away
an arrow has been fashioned
destined for anything alive.
Who will escape its barely
See how the invisible bird
sings like a bowstring.
A cicada saws the air thus
(Shakespeare reproaches it for that).
What is saying djiga-djiga—
the wind? The turn of a key?
Suddenly there is no sound.
Silk emerges from the ground.
The firmament has turned gray
pricked all over with pins.
The abyss of heaven, a passageway
Into weightless quicksilver cold.
J. Kates, poet and literary translator, lives in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, and in Brookline, Massachusetts. Alone and in collaboration, he has translated six books of poetry from French, Spanish and Russian, including poems by Tatiana Shcherbina, The Score of the Game (Zephyr, 2002) He also edited In the Grip of Strange Thoughts (Zephyr Press, 1999). His translations of Aizenberg's poetry are underwritten by an NEA translation grant for 2006.
A BILINGUAL ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY POLISH POETRY
CARNIVOROUS BOY CARNIVOROUS BIRD
Selected by Marcin Baran
Edited by Anna Skucińska
and Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese
ISBN 0-939010-72-0 (paper) $19.95
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6 x 9
336 pages [bilingual Polish/English]
Since the lyric beginnings of Polish poetry, writers have been burdened with duties typically delegated to politicians, soldiers, priests or journalists. The political, social and cultural changes of the last decade have allowed Polish poets to cast off these burdens, and focus instead on individual expression and varied aesthetic movements. Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird focuses on the core group of this movement—poets born between 1958-1969.
…in a constant confusion of mystification and authenticity, distance and directness, representational skepticism and mimetic euphoria, game-playing and honesty, the poets presented here perform their informal, singular duties towards language and the human condition.
—from the introduction by Marcin Baran