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Thomas Bernhard’s poems

Once he’d written them, he didn’t look back. He moved on to plays and novels, for which he’s much better known. He didn’t write any more poems for decades. Once he’d written them, he kept looking back. He returned and

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Posted in books, poetry, translation

Baba Dunja

Baba Dunja is an indomitable woman. She won’t let anything as trifling as a major nuclear disaster move her from her home. So back she moved, in to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and carried on growing her vegetables as if

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Posted in books, Dublin Literary Award, translation

Mascha Kaléko: a new bilingual edition

This new and fully bilingual edition of the Poems of Mascha Kaléko, out in time for the 110th anniversary of her birth, is a good introduction in English to one of my favourite German poets, who deserves to be more

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Posted in books, poetry, translation

Memoirs of a polar bear

A decade ago, on a visit to Berlin, I bought a small Steiff bear to remind me of the city I used to live in, and of Knut. Knut, if you don’t know already, was a baby polar bear in Berlin Zoo.

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Posted in books, gender, translation

all Russians love birch trees

In Berlin last week, I walked with friends out of the city, along where the wall used to be – where the birch trees have been growing freely for a quarter of a century. “That should make you feel right at home,

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Posted in translation

the carol that travelled

This is one of the most beloved carols in the Nordic countries, but the tune is from Central Europe and it has travelled across the Atlantic in English translations. So why haven’t you heard of it yet? Maybe it’s because

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Posted in Christmas, history, international, music, translation

Where do you really come from?

November 9 is a good date to mark German Literature Month; the day the monarchy ended, the day Hitler’s putsch failed, the night of the pogroms he instigated, the day the Berlin Wall came down… It wasn’t as easy as

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Posted in history, international, language, translation
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