reflected in the rainwater butt: Regentonnenvariationen

Reflection Adrift _ joseph burden _ Flickr.jpg
Thistle stars, quince suns, and a buzzing alphabet of midges: Jan Wagner sees nature upside down and inside out. He will make you see the world in a whole new way.
I found the young Hamburg poet on a trip to the city this May. His classic form and amazing alliteration take time to translate, so I will just share a few images from his latest
book of poetry in German, Regentonnenvariationen (“rainwater butt variations”). The title poem is a series of haiku. Wagner describes the water butt as a kind of “negative of an oven” that cools, swallowing the clouds, like Joseph Burden’s photo above, Reflection Adrift.
His midges are a cloud of buzzing letters released from the newspaper, “the Rosetta Stone without the stone”: Versuch über mücken reminded me of the poster on the wall behind the sofa where I was reading it:
And to him, the Silberdisteln (silver thistles, here in Harald Schnöde’s photo) in the cowfield are astrological constellations:
Carlina acaulis Harald Schnöde
You can listen to recordings of his earlier poems and read English and other translations at the wonderful LyrikLine, inluding Matthew Sweeney’s rendering of the quince suns glowing in a dark cellar. The book won the Lepizig Book Fair prize last year and you can buy it here.

Translator, editor, writer, reader

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Posted in books, poetry, translation
One comment on “reflected in the rainwater butt: Regentonnenvariationen
  1. […] Phoneme Media has done it again. Oh Saw-Young’s Night-Sky Checkerboard looks simple enough – an elegant slim volume of bilingual poetry from a language not many people would be able to read otherwise; Korean. The powerful juxtapositions of natural imagery reminded me of Regentonnenvariationen. […]

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