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Ernst Jandl
Reft and Light

translated from the German by various American poets
2000
poems, 112 pages, offset, smyth-sewn
ISSN 1077-4203 "Dichten ="
ISBN 1-886224-34-X, OUT OF PRINT

Ernst Jandl's poems are so engrained in the German language that they are impossible to translate. This volume present an unusual experiment: for each German poem there is not one, but several adaptations, so that the original is encircled by multiple English analogues. The responses range from close imitations to freewheeling versions that continue Jandl's thinking into other semantic areas.


Ernst Jandl was born in 1925 in Vienna. He began publishing poems in 1956 and quickly attracted the attention as the wittiest and most exuberant of experimental poets, with a knack for uncovering the comic potential in discrepancies between sound and spelling, in clichés, mispronunciations, dialect etc. Readers with a bit of German will enjoy his 'surface translation' of "My heart leaps up when I behold" into mai hart lieb zapfen eibe hold.... He has not only explored the limits of language in his visual and sound poems, but has written powerful political commentary by playing with "Ausländerdeutsch," the kind of pidgin German spoken by foreign workers.


He has translated Gertrude Stein, Robert Creeley's The Island, and John Cage's Silence.

Among his many prestigious literary prizes in both Austria and Germany are the Georg-Trakl-Preis (1974), Georg-Büchner-Preis and Grosser Österreichischer Staatspreis (both 1984).

He died in June, 2000.


The translators are Beth Anderson, Lori Baker, Martine Bellen, Guy Bennett, Charles Bernstein, Leonard Brink, Lee Ann Brown, Laynie Browne, Norma Cole, Tina Darragh, Ray Di Palma, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Kenward Elmslie, Elizabeth Fodaski, Benjamin Friedlander, Susan Gevirtz, Anselm Hollo, Paul Hoover, Damon Krukowski, Elizabeth MacKiernan, Gale Nelson, Julie Patton, Ray Ragosta, Joan Retallack, Brian Schorn, Lytle Shaw, James Sherry, Eleni Sikelianos, Cole Swensen, Anne Tardos, Keith Waldrop, Rosmarie Waldrop, Craig Watson, Marjorie Welish, John Yau.