In the afternoon I pick up a book
In the afternoon I put a book down
In the afternoon it enters my head there is war
In the afternoon I forget each and every war
In the afternoon I grind coffee
In the afternoon I put the ground coffee
Back together again gorgeous
In the afternoon I take off my clothes put them on
Apply make-up first then wash
Sing don’t say a thing
by Sarah Kirsch; translated by Anne Stokes
This poem continues our series featuring work from collections shortlisted for The Poetry Society’s Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize 2015, judged by Olivia McCannon and Clare Pollard, and supported in 2015 by the British Council. The winner of the competition was Iain Galbraith, who translated Jan Wagner’s book Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees (Arc Publications, 2015). You can find out more about the competition and all the shortlisted books on the Poetry Society website.
Anne Stokes holds a PhD in German Literature from Ohio State University. She teaches Translation at the University of Stirling and translates from German.
Sarah Kirsch (1935–2013) is recognised as one of Germany’s most powerful poets of the post-war era. She lived and worked first in East Germany, then (after political persecution) in the West, making her home finally in rural Schleswig-Holstein. Her poetry’s free-flowing syntax and fluid sound patterning reflect her lifelong resistance to constraint and convention. Anne Stokes’ translations above all capture the living sounds and rhythms of Kirsch’s writing. In Ice Roses Anglophone readers experience the full range of Kirsch’s poetry, from her early work to her last books, full of the strange beauty of her chosen landscapes. You can read more about the book on the Carcanet website.
Carcanet Press is in its fifth decade, and continues to publish a comprehensive and diverse list of modern and classic poetry in English and in translation, as well as a range of inventive fiction, Lives and Letters and literary criticism. Read more about the publisher on its website.
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.