German Poets (K-Z)

Wulf Kirsten: erdlebenbilder. gedichte aus 50 jahren 1954-2004. (Ammann Verlag, Zürich. 402pp, h/c, €24.90); Stimmenschotter (Ammann Verlag, Zürich. 102pp, h/c, o.o.p.); Wettersturz (Ammann Verlag, Zürich. 87pp, h/c, o.o.p); Der Berg über der Stadt (Ammann Verlag, 2003).

Kirsten is now in his 70s and comes from the former GDR. His first two Ammann books, now out of print, showed him to be a poet with a terrific ear for sound and rhythm, and to have a real craftsman's skill with language. The Collected Poems, erdlebenbilder, gives us the whole career in a beautiful edition at a very reasonable price. I recommend this volume unreservedly. There are also a novel (Die Prinzessin im Krautgarten) and a volume of essays (Textur) to be had, as well as a book about Buchenwald, Der Berg über der Stadt (Ammann Verlag, 2003, €32.90), with photos by Harald Wenzel-Orf.

Thomas Kling (1957–2005): Gesammelte Gedichte (DuMont, Cologne, 976pp, h/c, isbn 978-3-8321-7977-9; €63.55)

Probably the leading 'experimental' figure in Germany until his tragic early death from cancer in April 2005. All of his books are worth having, but a sensible introduction would be the selected (earlier) poems with the most cumbersome of titles: erprobung herzstärkender mittel / geschmackverstärker / brennstabm / nacht.sicht.gerät (Suhrkamp, 221pp, o.o.p)—this is simply a splicing together of the titles of his first 4 books, the first of which is very hard to find, not being a Suhrkamp publication. Suhrkamp also published the excellent later collection morsch, which was a further development of his earlier style.

His first DuMont collection, Fernhandel (DuMont, Cologne. 102pp, h/c. €19.80), showed him developing his style away from that of the Suhrkamp volumes. That book also came with a CD which usefully allows the reader to hear the poet reading the entire book—particularly valuable given that Kling was famed for his live appearances. Another collection, Sondagen (140pp, h/c, €18.60), appeared from DuMont in 2002, and reflected a partial return to his earlier (poetic) concerns. It too came with a CD of the poet reading the poems. Just after his death a swansong volume appeared, that mopped up a number of poems and essays that had not been collected previously: Auswertung der Flugdaten (DuMont, Cologne, 171pp, h/c, €17.90). The collected—shown above—appeared in 2006, and assembled all of Kling's published work, from both trade and bibliophile editions, although excluding one obscure book published when he was only 20. It's a tad expensive, it must be said, but it's cheaper than assembling the individual volumes. A fine monument to a fine poet, edited by Marcel Beyer and Christian Döring, and indispensable for an understanding of where German poetry was going in the 1990s, when it finally found that it had a future again.

Uwe Kolbe: Hineingeboren. Gedichte 1975–1979. (Aufbau Verlag, Berlin, 1980; Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 1982. 137pp, pb, o/p); Bornholm II (Aufbau Verlag, 1986; Suhrkamp, 1987. 106pp, pb, o/p); Vineta (Suhrkamp, 1998. 68pp, h/c, €14.80); Die Farben des Wassers (Suhrkamp, 2001. 79pp, h/c, €14.80).

These seem to me to be the pick of Kolbe's books. The first caused a sensation when it appeared in the West, and brought that neologism hineingeboren into the language, and the second also had enormous resonance in the then still divided Germany. Kolbe has published three volumes since the Wende, and Vineta seems to me to be the best of them, the elegiac title poem above all. A new book Heimliche Feste appeared in 2008: a report on this follows later, once it's been digested.

Friedrike Mayröcker is the grande dame of Austrian experimental poetry (and there's a lot of it). Until December 2004 it was almost impossible to find much of her poetry in print in an accessible volume, other than a couple of recent Suhrkamp collections and the Selected Poems edited by Thomas Kling (above right). However, to coincide with her 80th birthday, Suhrkamp have actually now issued a huge Collected (Gesammelte Gedichte 1939–2003. 856pp, hardcover, €28.90), which is just what we needed, bringing all the long-lost volumes back into print in a smart hardback edition at a very reasonable price, and tossing in over a hundred uncollected poems as well. This is a little like the Carcanet collected Raworth in the UK: a wonderful surprise, and a long-awaited event.

There is also a five-volume edition of the collected prose from Suhrkamp, some of which could well be regarded as poetry. I confess that I have not seen this edition. The easiest introduction is by way of Benachbarte Metalle (ed. Thomas Kling, Suhrkamp. 158pp, h/c, €12.80), which will do if you can't cope with the huge Collected. In translation we have two volumes of poetic prose: Heiligenanstalt (tr. Rosmarie Waldrop, Burning Deck, Providence, RI) and with each clouded peak (tr. R. Waldrop & Harriet Watts, Sun & Moon, Los Angeles). Both are well worth reading. There has been one volume of Friederike Mayröcker's prose in the USA, from Burning Deck, but precious little of her poetry saw the light of day in translation until the release of Richard Dove's translation of her Raving Language: Selected Poems 1946–2006 (Carcanet, Manchester, 2007; pb, 216pp, £18.95) is a splendid introduction to her work for non-German readers. This volume is English-only, but is nonetheless essential.

Ernst Meister (1911–1979): a hugely under-rated poet whose collected works are mostly out of print and can anyway only be had by buying some 17 separate volumes, such as the valuable Gedichte aus dem Nachlaß (Rimbaud Verlag, Aachen. 282pp, h/c, o/p) shown above right. There are two halfway-acceptable, if too slim, paperback selected volumes in the form of Ausgewählte Gedichte (Luchterhand, 134pp, o/p) and Lang oder Kurz ist die Zeit (Rimbaud Verlag, 1999. 85pp, €11)—see below—and surprisingly, there is an excellent one in England, pictured above left: Not Orpheus: selected poems (tr. Richard Dove, Carcanet, Manchester, 1996. 182pp, £9.95, pb). A very fine book indeed, excellent translations, and the best possible introduction to Meister's work. More recently, Jean Boase-Beier has translated Between Nothing and Nothing (Arc, 2004, bilingual pb, 136pp, £8.95), which is also worth having, even if it is not as impressive as the Carcanet collection. It's astounding that we should have had two editions of Meister in the UK in such a short space.

 

Helga M Novak: Silvatica (Schöffling & Co, Frankfurt, 1997, h/c, 96pp, €16.50) and solange Liebesbriefe noch eintreffen: Gesammelte Gedichte (Schöffling, 1999. 809pp, h/c, €29.50).

The latter volume, 800-plus pages long, is a Collected Poems and includes the former. Silvatica is an extraordinary book that uses myth in new ways in German poetry. (Given some of the uses to which myths were put in the past, a recreation of the genre from the ground up was definitely necessary). Also a fine prose-writer, Novak, who lives in Poland, is a poet to be reckoned with. A Selected Poems, edited by Michael Lentz, also appeared from Schöffling in 2005, to mark the poet's seventieth birthday.

Brigitte OleschinskiMental Heat Control (Rowohlt, Hamburg, 1990. 61pp, h/c, €14) and Your Passport is not Guilty (Rowohlt, Hamburg, 1997. 59pp, h/c, o/p).

Yes, both books have English-language titles. No, I don't know why. Oleschinski is very much the city poet, and a wry observer of contemporary mores, but her poems are short and tightly constructed in long lines. Fascinating and really rather original.

Bert Papenfuß-Gorek: One of only two viable survivors (with Lutz Rathenow) of the Prenzlauer Berg avant-garde scene in 80s East Berlin. His Gesammelte Texte are published by Gerhard Wolf Janus press GmbH of Berlin. Confusingly, they are Vols 1-3 and 5. Since Vol. 5 Papenfuß has published hetze covering poems from 1994-1998, as well as a number of collaborations with artists. I find these hugely difficult, but worth the attention required. All these books appear to have gone out of print, although copies will doubt be obtainable at the branches of the wonderful Autorenbuchhandlung in Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich. A subsequent collection, Rumbalotte, (Poems 1998-2002) has recently (2005) been published by the Engeler press of Basle, as have pendant volumes (Rumbalotte Continua, Karin Kramer Verlag, Berlin, 2005, and another similarly titled that I can't find at the time of writing. The Engeler volume strokes me as a significant publication, and one which consolidates the author's reputation as one of the most interesting poets from the GDR now writing in the merged Republic.

Oskar Pastior (1927–2006): Werkausgabe (4 vols.). As at the author's death, the first three volumes had appeared:- Jetzt kann man schreiben was man will (vol 2, Edition Akzente, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2003. 343pp, pb, €20), Minze Minze flaumiram Schpektrum (vol 3, Edition Akzente, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2004. 344pp, pb, €21.50), and "...sage, du habest es rauschen gehört" (vol 1, Edition Akzente, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 2006. 343pp, pb, €24.90). Vol 4 appeared in 2008: "…was in der Mitte zu wachsen anfängt" (Hanser, pb, 407pp, €24.90).

Vol. 1 prints a selection of the pre-emigration work (the author's first two books appeared in Bucharest) together with the first of the exile publications; until now only a few poems from the pre-emigration period have surfaced in western collections. My only quibble with it is that not all of the contents of the early books have been included. I assume that the author decided to edit some out. Vol. 2 includes the entirety of Gedichtgedichte, Höricht, Fleischeslust, and An die neue Aubergine, retaining all the author's original line-drawings from the latter volume, and also adding a few uncollected texts from the same period (the early 1970s). The third volume includes the essential volumes Wechselbalg and Der krimgotische Fächer (see also below) amongst much else. When the edition is finished, we will finally have an overview of one of the most fascinating postwar German poets. Apart from this collected edition, there is also a good introductory volume, though its selection stops before 1990: Jalousien Aufgemacht. Ein Lesebuch (ed. Klaus Ramm, Carl Hanser Verlag, 2002. 234pp, h/c, €17.90).

The Burning Deck edition of Pastior's selected poems, Many Glove Compartments (120pp, pb, $10) is a good place to start for English-speaking readers, including translations and recreations by three wonderful writers: Harry Matthews, Christopher Middleton and Rosmarie Waldrop, each of whom has a fine ear for the delicate playfulness and occasional absurdity of Pastior's work.

The most recent large German collections, apart from the Collected edition referred to above, are Das Hören des Genitivs (Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, 145pp, h/c, €14.90) and Villanella & Pantum (Carl Hanser Verlag, 112pp, h/c, €13.90). The weirdest book of all (?) is Der Krimgotische Fächer: Lieder und Balladen (Verlag Klaus G. Renner, Erlangen, 1978—out of print), which purports to consist of texts from a dead Germanic language: Dada meets Arnold Schwerner meets sound poetry, with a little bit of sense thrown in. This is possibly the oddest book of poetry that I've "read". The language does not exist but sounds as if it ought to, and a German-speaker's ear will pick up all manner of nuances, and semantic shadows from his own language, some of them emanating from the author's native dialect in the German-speaking region of Transylvania (at least that's what the author told me!).

Reinhard Priessnitz (1945–1985): Vierundvierzig Gedichte and Texte aus dem Nachlass (ed. Ferdinand Schmatz, Literaturverlag Droschl. Graz & Vienna. 53pp & 250pp, both pb, €9.50 & €23 respectively).

Volumes 1 and 4 of the collected works of a poet who died at the age of 40. Very tough, but worth the effort. Inevitably, a collection of work by someone who died young includes work that probably should not have been collected—and would not have been, had the poet lived—but this is still an oeuvre that's worth attention.

Monika Rinckzum fernbleiben der umarmung (kookbooks, Idstein, 2007. 78pp, pb, €15.90).

Monika Rinck is to my mind the most interesting of the younger poets to turn up after the millennium. A post-modernist, playful and artful at the same time, her work settles down in her third collection into a solid body of work with a clear direction—a doirection that her second volume showed developing. (her first, Begriffstudio was a kind of exploration of internet- and media-speak, with meanings deliberately hard to pin down).

Deeply impressive work here, and I see that her new publisher, the enthusiastic arrivistes of kookbooks, have already scheduled another volume for 2009. One to look out for, I think. This lady is the real thing.

Nelly Sachs (1891–1970) Werke. Band 1: Gedichte 1940–1950; Band 2: Gedichte 1951–1970. (Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt, 2010. ISBN 978-3518421567 (Vol. 1), 978-3518421574 (Vol. 2), hardcover, €44 each.) Aris Fioretos (ed.): Flucht und Verwandlung (Nelly Sachs, Schriftstellerin, Berlin/Stockholm. Ein Katalogbuch / Bildbiographie). (Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt, 2010. ISBN 978-3518421598, €29.90, paperback.)

At long last, an annotated critical edition of Sachs' poetry in two volumes appeared from Suhrkamp in 2010. I had been waiting for years for this, and was getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of such an edition. Anyway: better late than never, and it was worth waiting for. At the same time Aris Fioretos' fine Flucht und Verwandlung appeared, being more or less a catalogue of the 2010 Sachs exhibition at Berlin's Jewish Museum. This book is indispensable for fans of Nelly Sachs' luminous poetry.

Ruth Dinesen's biography is also useful (Nelly Sachs, Suhrkamp paperback) as is the lit-critical introduction Nelly Sachs "an letzter Atemspitze des Lebens" (Bouvier Verlag, Bonn). The correspondence with Celan (Briefwechsel) is an interesting book and has been translated (see also under Celan, previous page).

A two-volume edition of the collected poems in English was promised in 2005 by Green Integer in Los Angeles. I shall report on these books as and when they become available, though at present (mid-2010) they have still to appear. In my view, Sachs was one of the most important German poets of the 20th century, and I think her relative neglect has been scandalous. The release of the German critical edition (with the prose to follow in late 2010), and the forever-imminent Green Integer edition should at least change matters, I hope, both in German- and English-speaking countries.

Ferdinand SchmatzDas grosse Babel,n (Haymon-Verlag, Innsbruck, 1999, 158pp, h/c, o/p).

A rewriting and rearrangement of bits of The Bible, the title being a play on Great Babylon and babbling. One of the poems here, 'das grosse babel,n, danach' was memorably translated by Andrew Duncan as Great Babylon and on. A sense of humour has always been useful in reading Austrian experimental work, and this is no exception.

Sabine SchoAlbum (2nd edition, kookbooks, Idstein. 64pp, h/c, €12.90)

A first collection by a young writer of immense promise, and kookbooks have done well to rescue it from its previous, less adequate, incarnation. Scho mixes family history, photographs, song lyrics, quotations, allusions, lullabies, advertising slogans and anything else that's available. The resulting clashing registers and jarring contrasts produce a fascinating and entertaining surface that is quite different from the majority of contemporary German poetry. This second edition is a much better production than the first and is recommended. More shortly on the author's second collection, Farben, also from the excellent kookbooks.

Raoul Schrott is a young Austrian poet with a great (and still-developing) reputation, both as a poet and as a novelist. His second poetry collection Tropen (Hanser, Munich; 212pp, h/c, €17.90; paperback edition: Fischer, Frankfurt, €10.90) is a wonderful book, and an artful collage of materials. His first collection Hotels (dtv paperback) is less immediately interesting, but is a useful guide to how he reached his current style. His impressive new collection Weissbuch (Hanser, 2004; 188pp, h/c, €17.90) is in the same style that the author perfected in Tropen, and is a book that I recommend unreservedly. I suppose this could be called experimental-lite: it's not like anyone else's work, but it won't frighten off more conservative readers, if they are prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt. Iain Galbraith has translated all of Tropen and Weissbuch, and I hope someone will publish these in the UK or the USA. Yes, I've offered, but a bigger publisher is being sought.

In addition to his three poetry collections and various translations, Schrott is a novelist of some repute (Tristan da Cunha, 2004). In 2000 he published a book which falls somewhere in the middle of the prose/poetry divide, Die Wüste Lop Nor (Hanser, Munich), which is now available in Karen Leeder's fine translation from Picador (isbn 0-330-49153-9, pb, 104pp, £12.99) as The Desert of Lop. A beautiful volume and a good introduction in English to the work of a very talented writer. He has an enormous reputation in the German-speaking lands for his versions/translations of ancient poetries, exemplified by the two large books Die Erfindung der Poesie and Gilgamesch. The latter has a 'straight' translation and a 'poetic' version re-imagined from the tattered version that has come down to us in cuneiform tablets; frankly, both are superior to recent English versions that I've read, where the poetry has been left behind somewhere.

Lutz Seiler: vierzig kilometer nacht (Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 2003. 93pp, h/c, €16.90); pech & blende (Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 1999. 90pp, pb, €8.50). Sonntags dachte ich an Gott (Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 2004, 150pp, pb, €9.00); In the year one. Selected Poems (translated by Tony Frazer; Giramondo Publishing Co., Sydney, Australia, 2005; 93pp, pb, A$20 / £8).  

Seiler's first mainstream volume, pech & blende was a superb book which proved that it was possible to write poems out of memory and landscape without descending to the trite levels that one is accustomed to in much British poetry. Some of the biographical underpinnings to this book are related in the three-handed book Heimaten (with Anne Duden & Farhad Showghi, ed. H L Arnold, Göttinger Südelblätter, Göttingen. 47pp, pb, €14). I have translated this text, which has since been collected in the author's first book of essays, Sonntags dachte ich an Gott, an excellent volume which provides useful background for any reader of the poems. Seiler's second collection of poems, vierzig kilometer nacht appeared in 2003. This is a major collection that everyone interested in contemporary German poetry should have. It is difficult, very difficult in places, a fact to which I can testify as a result of my struggles to get the poems into an acceptable form of English, BUT the work is very rewarding indeed, offering what would appear to be a unique style of poetry.

My translation of some poems from each of the two Suhrkamp collections appeared in May 2005 from Giramondo in Sydney. Although this was only produced in a small run, copies are obtainable from Glee Books of Sydney or from Giramondo itself in Australia, and from Shearsman Books direct in the UK.

Ulf Stolterfoht: fachsprachen XXIX–XXVII (Urs Engeler Editor, Basle / Weil-am-Rhein / Vienna, 2004. 125pp, paperback, €19.00); fachsprachen X–XVII (Engeler, 2002. 123pp, paperback, €14.50); fachsprachen 1–IX (Engeler, 2006. 125pp, h/c, €19.00); Lingos I–IX (translated by Rosmarie Waldrop; Burning Deck Press, Providence, RI, 2007; 128pp, paperback, $14; isbn 9781886224858)

Ulf Stolterfoht is one of the most stimulating poets from the younger generation—younger to me, that is: he's now over 40. These first two are the two books I possess and I recommend them, along with the work of Oswald Egger, to anyone who want to know what is going on in the hard-edged experimental wing of the new German poetry. Fachsprachen = jargons, but there's no jargon here: the fach is the poet's own discipline, the tool is language, and Stolterfoht bends it, twists it and shapes it anew, piling words on top of each other in a veritable torrent of phonemes, the sounds hammmering home. It is actually very difficult and thus is not for the retiring reader looking for a quiet hour by the fire. I would not be without these two books, however, which offer great rewards to the patient reader. The I-IX volume is recent, and I've yet to see it; I do have the translation however, shown above, and this is another tour-de-force of translation by Rosmarie Waldrop—who only seems to tackle the toughest material. There's also an earlier chapbook selection from the completed book, but this one's worth having at what is an attractive price.

Anja Utlermünden — entzüngeln (Edition Korrespondenzen, Franz Hammerbacher, Mollardgasse 2, A-1060 Vienna, Austria. 91pp, h/c, €17.40); brinnen (Edition Korrespondenzen, Franz Hammerbacher, Vienna. 62pp, wide-format trade pb, €13.50)

Anja Utler won the Leonce-und-Lena Prize from the city of Darmstadt in 2003, an important award given every two years to a poet under the age of 35, and münden — entzüngeln was her first full-length collection. She is a talent to be reckoned with, bending language and sound in ways that most poets won't even dare to try, and this splendidly-produced small hardback is a real gem. The work is difficult, to say the least, as I discovered when trying to translate one of her poem-sequences for the Mouth to Mouth anthology in Australia (see below), and another for Shearsman magazine in 2005. This is very stimulating work, very original, and very, very highly recommended. brinnen, her second volume, is another tour-de-force. Look out for recordings of the poet reading her work: there was an official one of parts of brinnen. Her reading style is extraordinary and most effective.

Peter Waterhouse: passim (Rowohlt, Hamburg, 1987. 111pp, h/c, o/p); Prosperos Land (Jung und Jung, Salzburg / Vienna, 2001. 201pp, h/c, €19.90).

Anglo-Austrian poet Peter Waterhouse is a very singular figure. The two books here are in radically different styles, passim being from the early part of his career, and very much in the Austrian experimental tradition, while Prosperos Land is the latest book and is very spare indeed, with much white space and nary a word wasted. There are other books to investigate but these are a good place to start. The more I read Prosperos Land, the more impressed I am by this work.

Uljana Wolfkochanie ich habe brot gekauft (kookbooks, Idstein, 2006. 72pp, pb, €15.90)

This first collection by Uljana Wolf, a poet still in her 20s, won her the Peter Huchel Prize—and she was the youngest author ever to win that prestigious prize. A remarkable achievement all round. Her language is remarkably assured for a young newcomer, and her poems compressed to an unusual degree. I was impressed by her surefooted way with words, by the avoidance of overtly biographical material, and by the sense that I was confronted by a real poet who had something to say and an original way of saying it. I just hope that the huge accolades that the book received do not make a follow-up difficult, nor hasten one unduly.

In any event, this is a book that explorers of contemporary German poetry need to get hold of and pay attention to. The rest of the kookbooks list is interesting too, with an emphasis on younger writers just meaking their breakthrough.

Anthologies

Thomas Wohlfahrt & Tobias Lehmkühl (editors): Mouth to Mouth — Contemporary German Poetry in Translation (Giramondo Publishing, Newcastle, NSW, Australia. 271pp, pb, A$24.95. ISBN 1-920882-03-0)

This is mostly the outcome of a German / Australian Dichtertreffen, where 10 poets from each country translated each other. Five extra poets were added to the mix later, one of whom was translated by me (see Anja Utler above) and another (Nico Bleutge) by Andrew Duncan. I may therefore be counted as biased, but this is, in any event, a stimulating book. Not all the translations are faithful in the traditional sense, but they are mostly faithful to the spirit of the originals: the German poets include Kling, Waterhouse, Stolterfoht, Krechel, Draesner, Kolbe, Urweider, Scho, Beyer, Sartorius amongst others: this is a very good selection of contemporary German-language poets and fills something of a hole in the library along with the Chicago Review edition below. Bloodaxe supposedly has a large German anthology in development, but it's been developing for quite some time and no publication date seems to have been specified.

New Writing in German (Chicago Review Vol. 48 Issues 2/3, Summer 2002. 354pp, pb, $8. General Editor, Eirik Steinhoff; Fiction Editors, William Martin & Anna Gisbertz; Poetry Editors, Andrew Duncan & Tony Frazer).

Very recent and intended to be very contemporary, this selection is currently out on its own in terms of an overview of what's happening. Yes, I was one of the poetry editors & thus I'm biased, but this is a case of putting your money where your mouth is. Poets included are Becker, Beyer, Czernin, Draesner, Erb, Falkner, Göritz, Grünbein, Haufs, Jackson, Kling, Köhler, Kolbe, Mayröcker, Novak, Oleschinski, Ostermaier, Pastior, Scho, Schrott, Seiler, Speier, Waterhouse, most of whom have individual volumes listed on these two pages. The price is astoundingly low. This was available from the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin for €15. Within the USA (if it's still in print) you'll need to add $4 to the cover price for postage. Unavailable in the UK. Used copies can be found through Abebooks.

Charlotte Melin (ed): German Poetry in Transition 1945-1990 (University Press of New England, Hanover, NH, & London, 1999. 381pp, pb, £18.95, $24.95).

Good bilingual introduction to the field. The translations are workmanlike rather than inspired but the job the book sets out to do is done rather well. From a current perspective, it seems odd to label 45 years of history as being 'transition', given that this denigrates the GDR's poetic output in particular. Whatever one thinks of that awful régime, a lot of fine poetry was written by its citizens.

Michael Braun & Hans Thill (eds): Das verlorene Alphabet: Deutschsprachige Lyrik der neunziger Jahre (Verlag Das Wunderhorn, Heidelberg, 1998. 256pp, h/c, €25.80).

Pluralist anthology covering the whole field, which probably means it upsets everybody. Poorly laid out, with spurious (& utterly irritating) thematic divisions, it nonetheless has something by just about all the poets worth reading from the 90s and should be on any bookshelf that needs a survey of German verse at the millennium.

Kurt Drawert (ed): Lagebesprechung. Junge Deutsche Lyrik. (Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 2001. 189pp. pb, €8.00).

No real surprises in this book, which contains recent work by 31 poets. Of the more unusual names I was pleased to see Michael Donhauser and Ulf Stolterfoht selectedAside from the usual suspects there are also some very young writers, such as Silke Scheuermann (barely out of her twenties at the time was published), who are just beginning to make names for themselves. For that reason alone this book, a very cheap paperback, is worth having.

Thomas Kling (ed): Sprachspeicher (DuMont, Cologne, 2001. 360pp, pb, €14.90).

Although this covers the entire history of poetry in the German language, from the 8th to the 20th centuries, the selection of modern writers is fascinating. The very early poems come with modern German translations.

Lyrik. Über Lyrik. (Merkur no. 600, March/April 1999, Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, edited by Karl Heinz Bohrer and Kurt Scheel. 204pp, pb, €16 approx.)

This was a one-off issue of a serious literary journal, devoted entirely to contemporary German poetry, and a very fine edition it is. The sonnets by Czernin are worth the price of the book alone (see previous page for the new volume that collects these poems).

Karen LeederBreaking Boundaries. A New Generation of Poets in the GDR. (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1996. 369pp, h/c. Price ca £40).

Very well written and very well informed, neither of which descriptions always applies to academic studies of this type. It would be useful to see a book covering the post-Wende period. There are a couple of collections of essays on this subject in Germany, but an outsider's view would also help.

In German there is a veritable avalanche of comment available, much of which is unreadable and intended only for an academic audience, and I will forbear going through the small part of it that I'm really familiar with. Let's just say that it's worth tracking issues of the journal Text + Kritik (ed. Heinz Ludwig Arnold), which has done (and continues to do) a fine job in taking contemporary writing seriously.