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A Poem for the Week — Paul Celan

You with the Darkness – Slingshot,
you with the stone:
It is over evening,

I throw light behind myself.
Fetch me down,
take us

Seriously.

Four Poems
Paul Celan (1920-1970)
New York: Granary Books, 1999
PT2605 E4 S313 1999

Paul Celan was born Paul Antschel in Czernovitz, Romania to German-speaking Jewish parents. His surname was later spelled Ancel, which he adopted as an anagram for his pen name, Celan. In 1938, Celan moved to Paris to study medicine, but returned to Romania at the outbreak of World War II. During the war, Celan worked in a forced labor camp. His parents were deported to a Nazi concentration camp, where they both died. Celan escaped the labor camp and lived in Bucharest and Vienna before settling in Paris. He taught German and German literature and translated the poetry of Robert Frost, Marianne Moore, Emily Dickinson, Arthur Rimbaud, Antonin Artaud, and Charles Baudelaire. His own poetry was influenced by the French surrealists, although he wrote in German, publishing his first collection in 1948. Celan, a survivor of the Holocaust, wrote his poetry in a language of distance, transforming the intensity of life, torment, and death into enigmatic imagery. He committed suicide in 1970.

Four accordion-folded fascicles, printed on one side, attached to paper-covered boards on either end. The poems are presented in German alongside a translation.

Poems from Gedichte: in 2 Bänden, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1973. Translated by Pierre Joris. Etchings and drawings by German book artist Barbara Fahrner. Delicate, near translucent paper and subtle drawings evoke a sense of quiet. Of her bookwork, Fahrner writes, “The medium and the basis for my work are the folded pages of a book, which carry the element of time and rhythm.”

Issued in a cloth-covered clamshell box made by Judith Ivry.

Edition of forty-eight copies, of which eight are hors commerce. Twenty copies published in the United States, twenty copies published in Germany. Rare Books copy is no. 3, signed by the translator.

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  • Pingback:10 New Poetry Books: 2020 – American Poetry Today
    Posted at 23:58h, 21 December Reply

    […] by Paul Celan (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). A collection of the first four books of the Paul Celahttps://newsletter.lib.utah.edu/a-poem-for-the-week-paul-celan/n’s oeuvre, written between 1952 and 1963, which established his reputation as perhaps the […]

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