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:
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.
[…] 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. […]