Catlives: Sarah Kirsch's Katzenleben

Overview

In her translator's preface, Marina Roscher tells us the work of Sarah Kirsch is a "powerful and poetic presence"—intense, with richness and density. It is an extraordinary poetry of images: pictures, scenes, seasons, of a nature … already lost to us” which this poet evokes with her exquisite ability to “convey the dreadful softly.”Two very special things to admire about these fine translations: first, the translators have kept the associational thought that goes on in these poems, so the quiet images can achieve...

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Overview

In her translator's preface, Marina Roscher tells us the work of Sarah Kirsch is a "powerful and poetic presence"—intense, with richness and density. It is an extraordinary poetry of images: pictures, scenes, seasons, of a nature … already lost to us” which this poet evokes with her exquisite ability to “convey the dreadful softly.”Two very special things to admire about these fine translations: first, the translators have kept the associational thought that goes on in these poems, so the quiet images can achieve their subtle illogical magic without any artificial linkages imposed from outside; and second, the translators have kept left-hand capitals but stripped the poems of any right-hand punctuation throughout, which seems right. The effect of these technical considerations is that the poems all have a curious suspension, as if they were going headlong towards an endless emptiness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Poet Levine, in his foreword to this first collection, rightfully applauds Jones's masterful rhythmic impulse and unerring use of language as he examines human perseverence in the face of what Delmore Schwartz called the ``dark accidents'' of life and nature--whether it be the death of a loved one, the ``cruelly disfigured'' face of a steel mill worker, or a natural disaster. The particularly moving poem ``Going On'' speaks of a tornado ``in the morning light, / they marvel at the random / or miraculous--the cinder block / skewered by a broom straw, / the china closet spared / in a roofless house-- / and salvage what they can.'' In elegies, poems about childhood and meditations on nature, the poet's details and imagery vibrate with stark emotional intensity, as in the evocation of moonlight that ``drips from the white wrist of a branch'' or a recollection of dolls as ``one-eyed smiling amputees,'' the battered relics of childhood. One series of spare poems features Grabow, an everyman mystified by his growing children, nagged by his wife, and struggling in difficult times; ``Take it easy, fella'' he says to a panting dog he passes on the road. (Dec.)
Booknews
Originally published as Sarah Kirsch Katzenleben: Gedichte (1984, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt GmbH, Suttgart). Translated by Marina Roscher and Charles Fishman. Kirsch is a prolific contemporary European poet little known in the US and other English-speaking countries. Her poems are presented in German with their lovingly done translation and a brief introduction by one of the translators. Paper edition (unseen), $12.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780896722323
  • Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/1991
  • Pages: 177

Meet the Author

Sarah Kirsch was born in 1935 in Limlingerode/Harz. She studied biology in Halle, and literature at the Johannes R. Becher Institute in Leipzig. She lived in East Berlin until 1977, when she moved to West Berlin. She now makes her home in the countryside of northern Germany, not far from the Danish border. Among her many prizes and awards are the Petrarca-Preis; the stipend of Villa Massimo, Rome; the Staatspreis fur Europaische Literatur, Austria; and the Friedrich Holderlin Preis.

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