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After Every War

Twentieth-Century Women Poets

Eavan Boland

They are nine women with much in common--all German speaking, all poets, all personal witnesses to the horror and devastation that was World War II. Yet, in this deeply moving collection, each provides a singularly personal glimpse into the effects of war on language, place, poetry, and womanhood.

After Every War is a book of translations of women poets living in Europe in the decades before and after World War II: Rose Ausländer, Elisabeth Langgässer, Nelly Sachs, Gertrud Kolmar, Else Lasker-Schüler, Ingeborg Bachmann, Marie Luise Kaschnitz, Dagmar Nick, and Hilde Domin. Several of the writers are Jewish and, therefore, also witnesses and participants in one of the darkest occasions of human cruelty, the Holocaust. Their poems, as well as those of the other writers, provide a unique biography of the time--but with a difference. These poets see public events through the lens of deep private losses. They chart the small occasions, the bittersweet family ties, the fruit dish on a table, the lost soul arriving at a railway station; in other words, the sheer ordinariness through which cataclysm is experienced, and by which life is cruelly shattered. They reclaim these moments and draw the reader into them.

The poems are translated and introduced, with biographical notes on the authors, by renowned Irish poet Eavan Boland. Her interest in the topic is not abstract. As an Irish woman, she has observed the heartbreaking effects of violence on her own country. Her experience has drawn her closer to these nine poets, enabling her to render into English the beautiful, ruminative quality of their work and to present their poems for what they are: documentaries of resilience--of language, of music, and of the human spirit--in the hardest of times.

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Angina Days

Selected Poems

Günter Eich

This is the most comprehensive English translation of the work of Günter Eich, one of the greatest postwar German poets. The author of the POW poem "Inventory," among one of the most famous lyrics in the German language, Eich was rivaled only by Paul Celan as the leading poet in the generation after Gottfried Benn and Bertolt Brecht. Expertly translated and introduced by Michael Hofmann, this collection gathers eighty poems, many drawn from Eich's later work and most of them translated here for the first time. The volume also includes the original German texts on facing pages.

As an early member of "Gruppe 47" (from which Günter Grass and Heinrich Böll later shot to prominence), Eich (1907-72) was at the vanguard of an effort to restore German as a language for poetry after the vitriol, propaganda, and lies of the Third Reich. Short and clear, these are timeless poems in which the ominousness of fairy tales meets the delicacy and suggestiveness of Far Eastern poetry. In his late poems, he writes frequently, movingly, and often wryly of infirmity and illness. "To my mind," Hofmann writes, "there's something in Eich of Paul Klee's pictures: both are homemade, modest in scale, immediately delightful, inventive, cogent."

Unjustly neglected in English, Eich finds his ideal translator here.

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New Impressions of Africa

Raymond Roussel

Poet, novelist, playwright, and chess enthusiast, Raymond Roussel (1877-1933) was one of the French belle époque's most compelling literary figures. During his lifetime, Roussel's work was vociferously championed by the surrealists, but never achieved the widespread acclaim for which he yearned. New Impressions of Africa is undoubtedly Roussel's most extraordinary work. Since its publication in 1932, this weird and wonderful poem has slowly gained cult status, and its admirers have included Salvador Dalì--who dubbed it the most "ungraspably poetic" work of the era--André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp, Michel Foucault, Kenneth Koch, and John Ashbery.

Roussel began writing New Impressions of Africa in 1915 while serving in the French Army during the First World War and it took him seventeen years to complete. "It is hard to believe the immense amount of time composition of this kind of verse requires," he later commented. Mysterious, unnerving, hilarious, haunting, both rigorously logical and dizzyingly sublime, it is truly one of the hidden masterpieces of twentieth-century modernism.

This bilingual edition of New Impressions of Africa presents the original French text and the English poet Mark Ford's lucid, idiomatic translation on facing pages. It also includes an introduction outlining the poem's peculiar structure and evolution, notes explaining its literary and historical references, and the fifty-nine illustrations anonymously commissioned by Roussel, via a detective agency, from Henri-A. Zo.

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Oranges and Snow

Selected Poems of Milan Djordjevic

Milan Djordjević

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Simic has done more than anyone since Czeslaw Milosz to introduce English-language readers to the greatest modern Slavic poets. In Oranges and Snow, Simic continues this work with his translations of one of today's finest Serbian poets, Milan Djordjevic. An encounter between two poets and two languages, this bilingual edition--the first selection of Djordjevic's work to appear in English--features Simic's translations and the Serbian originals on facing pages. Simic, a native Serbian speaker, has selected some forty-five of Djordjevic's best poems and provides an introduction in which he discusses the poet's work, as well as the challenges of translation.

Djordjevic, who was born in Belgrade in 1954, is a poet who gives equal weight to imagination and reality. This book ranges across his entire career to date. His earliest poems can deal with something as commonplace as a bulb of garlic, a potato, or an overcoat fallen on the floor. Later poems, often dreamlike and surreal, recount his travels in Germany, France, and England. His recent poems are more autobiographical and realistic and reflect a personal tragedy. Confined to his house after being hit and nearly killed by a car while crossing a Belgrade street in 2007, the poet writes of his humble surroundings, the cats that come to his door, the birds he sees through his window, and the copies of one of his own books that he once burnt to keep warm.

Whatever their subject, Djordjevic's poems are beautiful, original, and always lyrical.

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