The Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation for Summer 2018. The Austrian poet and novelist Evelyn Schlag, whose 2004 Selected Poems received the coveted Schlegel Tieck Prize, returns with All under One Roof. Once more, Karen Leeder’s brilliant translations render a selection of Schlag’s most recent poems into English. The book draws on two substantial German-language collections, Sprache von einem anderen Holz (2008) and verlangsamte raserei (2014). There is also a new essay by the author in which she discusses the sources, politics, and strategies of her writing. Love remains a central theme for Schlag, but an associative inward journey with new diction, and new orthography, is underway. Rüdiger Görner in Die Presse responded to the vibrancy of what he called the "Sprachpulsate" (pulses of language): "Evelyn Schlag’s poems have a kind of discreet presence; once spoken they have claimed their permanent place in the lyric cosmos." Leeder’s selection traces a uniquely Austrian imagination at the heart of contemporary European poetry.
|Publisher:||Carcanet Press, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Karen Leeder (1962-) is a writer, translator and academic. Since 1993 she has taught German at New College, Oxford, where she is Professor of Modern German Literature. In recent years she has translated Volker Braun and Michael Krüger. She won the Stephen Spender Prize for her translation of Durs Grünbein. Evelyn Schlag grew up in Waidhofen an der Ybbs in Lower Austria. She studied German and English at the University of Vienna. She has published poetry, novels, essays and stories.
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Sprache von einem anderen Holz
LANGUAGE OF A DIFFERENT STRIPE
Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (Lady with The Ermine)
Everyone who sees her – even if it is too late to see her alive – will say: that suffices for us to know what is nature and what is art.
Where the road divides 72 km along the B121
I was filling up. Couldn't stop looking over.
She was so – well – she just turned you on.
You gawp – and petrol drips on your trousers.
Making for another planet. Nothing would turn her head. Ramrod straight she stood there as if waiting for that special someone who didn't yet exist. She wore her brown hair
flat on her head like a scarf. These girls always dress too skimpily. T-Shirt with a risqué scooped-
out neck and frilly arms. Little black necklace tight round her throat. I thought: is that a tattoo?
On her arm – it took a while before I understood it wasn't a bag or a scarf – she held a white beast.
I crossed over to the other side to look.
Head too small for a cat. Stuff of make-believe –
an ermine. Ages I stood there mouth open wide:
how still she was and the animal as well.
Won't something like that squirm? Piss and bite and claw? The paw – hanging in front – to signal
stop! The creature smarter than the fragile thing that stroked its neck. Perhaps a few bars of the Balkan Blues on a loop in her head going round. Or stoned enough to forget who she was.
A runaway. One never knows the violent fathers oneself. Only trusted witness to it all
– it makes me weep – the wretched ermine.
Neither of them enough to tip the scales.
Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?)
Gauguin should have been his painter. He knows the family histories of the brightly coloured girls.
Today they have such large souls again and their mothers invite him to stay.
Embrace. All of it was what I liked best.
I am pale up to the edges of the iodine.
European Colonies 8
Time out for the patients in casual clothes.
But it's not free time. It's ordinary daywear and they're allowed to get dirty.
The woman's in tears because she can't manage the step. Sobs bitterly inside her hard helmet: a dripping pan reinforced
behind for the floating brain within.
Fastened under the chin with ears free.
She cries angrily and bares her teeth.
A young woman leads her by the hand whose body is wise and eligible and tonight.
And her hair is not disabled nor her mouth.
She walks beside her hand in hand.
Blessed with her lucky genes she flies with every step. Come on up you go – bitterly.
Under the sports-helmet of a crash-discipline the woman conquers the step. The walk can begin.
It is early summer in the whiteboat harbour of the town.
She polishes the pavement with her shuffling steps.
The earth's surface underfoot the culture of marble.
Still she is mobile. Can still be pulled along.
A seagull in flight democratically shits itself free.
White snot between the stays of the helmet.
The masts of the boats find that unnerving
such strange turns of fate.
European Colonies 9
Wind that knows how to play with little children.
Water that kidnaps the folded paper boats and pretends they will wash up on a little coast
where they will quickly dry and found a flotilla or sit on a window-ledge as some exotic flotsam from Europe along with a handful of stones.
A day with no breaking news and no deadly wave. No minimum death tolls on stretchers.
No flickering figures at night tipped out
of boats into the hygienic hands of the coast.
Only flip-flops on the European waterfronts.
Oversized beach towels folded over their arms.
I love each and every finger on your hand I'm sitting in the din behind the waterfall ultra-sounded palace hazarded hearing what do you want to know? I've followed my paddle up the creek a way that's all asphalt poetry in a Belarussian village perhaps the only pose that's true
On the way down the steep slope there were cars overtaking us all of them new this year shining and not only with rain
clear outlines finger on the tap a word and
they would tip us into the ditch or even simply off course and out of the grooves that ran the length of the torn road down which a huge hand had drawn an iron comb
We drove out across the hills past the expanse of new-mown meadows in a rain growing ever finer a rain chased towards us by the sun
The sun hung suspended in each one of the millions of droplets so that we drove into a wall that seemed to retreat and renew itself as if we were driving through someone else's life a life fulfilled complete in every way a life in a wet and dancing light
A first image that rose above our horizons no question the blazing plasma of a human being just like us no question
Or were we the ones drifting beyond the here and now because the temptation of light exceeded all we were.
Our whole life long other people die are dressed and asked: is there anything you need?
Their way with words that we adored their precious vocabularies that they take to the grave in the pockets of their coats
Nature had altered its state and the co-ordinates of physics relaxed their grip across the terrain perhaps we were discharged at our own risk
We came out sideways from the sun onto a path language of a different stripe
but you with me in the rear-view mirror I saw that we were still on track a tangle of caresses exuded in a fever of hearing
There was the field of maize each green-leaf at the ready there was a plump young man chasing his dog up across the meadow under a half-read copy of the Rainbow
a twin-sky with make-up we tried not to explain it to ourselves and besides I no longer recall a single word from then but you
Formalised desire buzzard and buzzard they intimate the distances to one another correcting themselves as they fly let it never end swelling seam we search for a new contour
Nothing in need of an and
I cannot speak for you even if your breath does cartwheels through my body
Unconsecrated meat green and blue and the T of the spade-handle it is a feeling:
meeting the unawares a wandering central strip dated error as if lifted from logic
How they coasted down in neutral behind you screeching darkly only on the turn one / the same one flight helmet for a spin-second pitched headover you and your shoulder
The lines of shaved thistles separate as if I were tearing a sheet in August I wash your armpits cursing practise the clasps of the gentle corset that embraces you from behind like a man
Seen from this far away all people are made for one another we wanted the shelter of interpretation I can't hold out any longer or hold myself back any more I can't promise mouth to mouth
You have redeemed me you tell me unbelieving it was only the way I like to be in the air the thickening red of cloth and black absolute vowels how you shake me or greet me uncounted how you lose track of my absence and kiss me in front of the cathedral wherever we go
Hesitant prospect slowly stretches further gives itself over to the near the world I am writing into being
transforms itself into the how
The play of light in the leaves dapples your back. In draft it was darker round us a sparing use of sun.
We were people without seasons on our heads.
An idea perfected in a tunnel is how we seemed. Longing for contour and not a clue
that we'd become more modern. Ever younger. Play of light your back. In pictures the sails are patched with outstretched
arms the sun shines down on the heads of the rowers. A woman shields her eyes with her bare forearm her mouth is scarcely
more than three dots. When I'm cold you fetch me into the house warm-blooded creature you alter my pulse. Your voice is even. You explain
the sudden snow the fading northern light the pirates on the weak grey sea the nerve under my eye that makes my gaze seem fixed in
a way I'd never want to be in face of your love
Where Our Skin
Before autumn we had not given ourselves to each other.
Each of us turning our red foliage into the southernmost corner of North. Secretly you slip me an extra leaf.
In winter we will again believe that it's us who are getting smaller. It's the sun leaning back on its haunches. It's the beast that must find us.
I ask myself when it was that the settlers' mountains soaked up the names of new arrivals with such ease.
Your elegant nose. Now we know one another
by our underarms where our skin is not ashamed.
Bodies Well Lost
Even as autumn keeps its distance I will imagine for you the little teeth of the ivy and here the kiss of the blossom in my hand.
So many things cast out again from the year shovelling with both arms letting each day end without saying: you can't count on us!
Grandiose storms follow on behind the time.
If you glance to the side there are outlets with three flags all the zones one needs.
The snow will be washable at least a menu for the disabled. What I need:
desert. Casino signs of the Cree and the Sioux.
Where there's nothing there are trading grounds for sale. The selling fields. Fields. The highest secular building was the cooperative silo.
At night we take one another's hands it happens in a courtly way and we know our bodies are well lost in the form of sleep the biographical head released
from the scree of running images
We Did Not Carry
Our closest kin is winter.
We stand behind on tip toes.
Before we realised they'd packed up
everything we owned their precision scrapers pivot lamps where we froze without a clue. The sun keeps shining
into late November. Every day a little more at home. Last yellow leaves flutter past under the dog's belly.
And every phrase hangs exposed in the air.
Absence hurts from wherever you are.
Come winter our thoughts will be seen.
We did not carry any weight
Soon the slopes will don the robe of light and rest their heads to sleep. Beyond them the logical Anti-Lebanon that we will see only when we wake. The notebooks
coated in green plastic like our teachers used to have.
You will know nothing but the shape of the mountain.
We do one another secret services. Wait in the souk
at the appointed times. No one sticks to the plan.
We too are growing careless about our futures.
We thought you were ahead but you were far behind.
Your mouth is stuffed with a nightingale nest. Your speech is honey nest you say pistachio instead of piaster.
Black ostrich feathers scattering the dust on limousines.
Sufi and Versailles. Gateway to fresh-squeezed apple juice.
Police direct the traffic somewhat with a scarf and cigarette.
At night little sledges career across the roofs.
Santa Claus hangs unharmed in the Christian quarter
St Petersburg Poem: The Truth
I never forget that you are a man. Even when you quote me for lines on end. Down the Griboyedov up Nevsky Prospect in the golden September shadow.
That's what you're built for – long conversations not small talk. We hold forth across your squares.
You call me broad female person. You lay your Moyka round my shoulders. Your fish nibble at my neck hairs – how come we are not serious?
Your every column both argument and ornament.
Your veto on stone for other cities smacks of envy.
You show me all these empty plastic bottles. No messages. No reader conjured for a time to come.
One of these bottles took to sea and came ashore at Komarovo. Decoration for her grave. A single long-stemmed white lily. You would like it. A wall.
Only watering cans and faded rubbish lacking.
The letters of her name are cut too shallow in the stone. The needles from her trees can't sink down and read her like other trees read their dead poets – readers transposed by the
wind in a library. Can you hear how cold I am.
You are not my first city – just the first freezing one that deigns to smile. We pass through one another.
I press five leaves into your hand. Suddenly it comes to me how beguiled by needles I am.
Whoever gets too close to you (like this young sky) can only blame themselves when they bleed.
The islands are already onto it and flinch away in pain.
Seeing you like this the many windows of your beauty.
You – a gambler. How I believed your black night.
Always telling each other life stories – right?
You are so dreadful. Go on try the fish.
Names bandied back and forth. Sometimes the reflections drift away in all directions.
Now I know what you mean. Most imaginary city!
Surrounded by adjustable headthistles picking up the Saturday news: leaves behind his parents and a brother. Oldest of seven children
and signed up of his own free will. The morning was still cooler than a cheek. Chairs on the veranda.
Outside the tiny dolls' hands seem to sweat.
Also leaves behind his parents. Smart exit the little garden gate falls to behind the lost son. When he's back he'll get round to mending it
and leaves behind his parents and two sisters.
Petrol station and new potatoes. The noises join forces head for happiness. This photo leaves behind
his parents and two brothers. A laundry ticket means nothing at all. Green garden wire rolled up next to the shears. Listening out for the one name
and leaves behind his parents two brothers and a sister.
Free-floating fatherhoods disappear in the Holy Scripture.
In the madness of initials: who was who in the male line
and even then the bloggers meddle in what came after
Lost Gardens of Heligan
First it becomes a sanatorium for soldiers shell-shocked amidst well-meant experiments.
Each man's soul housed in two museums.
No image comes back not a step from the jungle bridges even the virtual tour brings nothing from a world that once breathed.
At night the overbooked studio of my sleep.
In my confusion I lost the gardens even though they took me in like paradise.
Waist-high in the garden of ... fragment of silk or was it dishonoured tweed surely it is enough to speak to lay down a store of new recollections
outside of memory which anyway lied or threw away its uniform in Heligan as it ran down the last slopes in pure colour!
Should I bring you my body language? Now?
Today we still haven't told each other doggy stories but they can wait. Of the eight hundred hands that pain me every day you maybe use a dozen. I practice gymnastics to reach towards the gods. Standing helpless before the sketches.
Just come soon however unwatered you are.
And now my foot is counting whether you have all your toes. Squirts of sperm and dug-outs of desire.
I'd like to have earned many more places: fetch me from every side. Your breath is sweet again.
I would like to have been made out of your pleura.
We were much surrounded by the light of glowing blossom. Weightless above our heads like unwritten poems. They coloured a room for us neck-shortened animals. But it was about much more as I learnt in the marathons:
Life. Domestic life. I enlarged my breath and you were still there. Soon you would be able to take over my memory as far as over-fluff is concerned. The original fluff of the literal.
For a time I had to go to the other side of the car in order to explain who you are in your absence.
If Bohemia Lies by the Sea
OK Ingeborg: that's enough.
Last week on the English Isles I read out four times that mighty hymn of yours.
No doubt the sea had moved to the North.
It was rocking on itself and the allusions scurried back to their own century.
Two children kept running out of the water:
without a fever into February.
I let myself freeze wanted to see from the tower to the Tiber.
I'd been given a coin without currency that vanished into the slit of a mouth.
Perhaps fetched in by a tongue.
One entered a cage with four chambers.
Iron bars tall as a man. A ribcage from the Middle Ages.
The turnstile jammed held me fast.
A prelude to death? A CIA trick?
In the grille of cold I accented you differently again.
Cassandra marching in pale step.
An unloved woman who sticks by her lines.
The carnivores hold onto their place amidst a cunning gender.
I even put my hand into the lion's mouth.
Should one let this kind of love pass by?
Strange insomnias arrive and stay the night.
We hadn't known how close we were coming to others while seeking out room for manoeuvre.
Lions (yes lions) and abbeys where the roofs have flown away.
I can report: months are missing in every year.
I scream into my hands a good deal. Am not guilty of any audience.
What my eyes see: at the edge of the woods a slender raised hide has snagged a tree.
Weighed down by its oversized head the killing pulpit.
My eyes see photos:
skeletons of two lovers from thousands of years ago.
Their embrace is still intact.
News of the day is the little lollipop feet of the premature baby of 22 weeks that – if one took them in the mouth as crazy lovers sometimes do –
would melt there.
Jelly lozenges almost translucent.
My eyes saw your eyes where they live on.
In glances before language.
In features that preserve your genes.
We know less than ever before.
The seas run over to their friends reach as far as
all that ever was Bohemia. All that ever lay on no coast.
Excerpted from "All Under One Roof"
Copyright © 2018 Evelyn Schlag.
Excerpted by permission of Carcanet Press Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
from LANGUAGE OF A DIFFERENT STRIPE (2008),
from the sequence Jewels of Brazil,
from the sequence Hesitant Prospect,
from the sequence St Petersburg Poem,
from the sequence Sweepsound,
from the sequence If Bohemia Lies by the Sea,
from the sequence No Pathos Please,
from the sequence Conditio Divina,
from the sequence All under One Roof,
from RACING IN SLO-MO (2014),
from the sequence Plaits,
from the sequence Thoughtsnow Drifting,
from the sequence My Dearest with the Graceful Art,
from the sequence My Throat's a Little Ouchy,
from the sequence Good Day Paula Radcliffe,
from the sequence From C to D,
from the sequence Kindling for the Metaphysical,
Notes on the Poems,
Afterword by Evelyn Schlag,
About the Authors,