it’s not just in dream that it’s often happened to
me that I’ve been unable to find the exit through
the right door got into trains going in the wrong
direction it was a station I only half recognised
that was a fright but I was under glass and was
fixed to that spot and could not move because
I had just got to that place in the book I began
to sense surging flushes in my blood I walked
around in the woods and could feel warm light
and slackly let myself be led to an edge images
came but they were not giving me pain any more
like they used to for beneath dead treetops the
wilderness was coming alive with fern and fox-
glove and I went back into the gullies of streets
incomprehensibly distant in my blood in its
suites of rooms without windows I walked and I
ran in circles for a while until something beneath
my jacket heaved I clutched at it with my right
hand and held it and breathed hard at the edge
of the platform I bent forward and saw the tracks
by Norbert Hummelt
Copyright © Luchterhand Literaturverlag, 2007. Translation copyright © Catherine Hales, 2010. ‘exit’ is taken from the German volume Totentanz, and appears in English in Berlin Fresco — Selected Poems by Norbert Hummelt, translated by Catherine Hales, Shearsman Books, 2010. It is reprinted here by permission of Shearsman Books.
Notes courtesy of Shearsman Books:
A poet, essayist, publisher, and translator, Norbert Hummelt was born in Neuss am Rhein in 1962. From 1983 to 1990 he studied German and English in Cologne and since 1991 he has been a freelance writer. He has been living in Berlin since 2006, having previously also lived in New York, Dublin and Amsterdam. Since 2005 he has been publisher of the Lyrikedition 2000, which publishes new editions of out-of-print 20th century poetry collections, as well as first collections by new poets. He is also editor of the journal Text+Kritik. He has taught at the Deutsche Literaturinstitut (German Literature Institute) in Leipzig and at the Universität der Künste (University of the Arts) in Berlin. He has translated the poetry of W.B. Yeats, Wordsworth and Inger Christensen, as well as T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and The Waste Land. You can read more from the book here, and hear Hummelt read from his poems (in German, with a number of translations of the texts) at this page.
The translator, Catherine Hales, grew up in Surrey, but now lives near the Spree in Berlin, where she works as a freelance translator. Her poetry and translations of contemporary German poetry have appeared in many magazines, including Tears in the Fence, Poetry Salzburg Review, Fire, Stride, and Shadowtrain. Catherine Hales’s poem ‘temporary lodging’ was the Brookes weekly poem for 15 November, 2010.
Shearsman Books is a very active publisher of new poetry, mostly from Britain and the USA, but also with an active translation list. You can learn more about the publisher here.
Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.