Green-tinted Roses

I saw in an ice-white
garden the winter light
had coloured
the yellow rose and its stalk
don’t say
it’s a marvellous strain
leaving me nothing
to marvel at
it grew to
some height on its own
by the side of a road
yet nobody
dared
clip its wings
It came to me
like a lover
holding her breath.

by Esther Dischereit

Grünstichige Rosen

sah ich in einem eisweißen Garten
stehen das Winterlicht
hatte die gelbe Rose
mit ihrem Stengel gefärbt
sag nicht
es ist eine wundersame Sorte
damit ich nichts mehr
zu staunen hätte
sie wuchs in
einer Höhe als eine einzige
am Rand einer Straße
und doch wagte es
niemand sie an den Flügeln
zu stutzen
Sie kam mir entgegen
wie eine Geliebte
und hielt inne.


This poem is copyright © Esther Dischereit, 2020, translated by Iain Galbraith, and is reprinted here from Sometimes a Single Leaf: Selected Poems (Arc Publications, 2020) by permission of Arc. You can read more about the book on the Arc website.

Whether in poetry, fiction, radio drama or sound installations, Esther Dischereit’s work represents a unique departure in recent European writing: a distinctive, off-beat syntax of German-Jewish intimacy with the fractured consciousness and deeply rutted cultural landscape of today’s Germany. Sometimes a Single Leaf, mirroring the development of Esther Dischereit’s poetry across three decades, includes selections from three of her books as well as a sampling of more recent, uncollected poems. It is her first book of poetry in English translation and was the Poetry Book Society’s Recommended Translation for Winter 2019.

Read more about the book and buy a copy on the Arc website.

‘Born in Germany in 1952 to a Jewish mother who had survived the Holocaust in hiding, Esther Dischereit grew up in a haunted society, where the crimes of the recent past were effectively suppressed despite their omnipresent traces. These poems, drawn from published collections spanning the years 1996 to 2007 as well as from more recent work, give voice to disorientation and pain, as well as endurance and resolve, in the unwelcome work of calling history to account, of witnessing to the ghostly “once-weres,” invisible to her contemporaries. A fine preface by the translator Iain Galbraith provides biographical context and introduces rich avenues of interpretation. Galbraith’s translations render very compellingly the sparse lines and subtle rhythms of Dischereit’s free-verse poems.’ (Karin Schutjer, World Literature Today, Summer 2020.)

Founded in 1969, Arc Publications publishes contemporary poetry from new and established writers from the UK and abroad, specialising in the work of international poets writing in English, and the work of overseas poets in translation. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. To learn more about Arc and to see its range of titles, visit the publisher’s website. You can also find Arc on Facebook and on Twitter.

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