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Archive for March, 2011

The Spanner in the Works

A major portion of the poetry of Günter Eich (1907-1972) has, at last, been made accessible to an English-speaking readership in a new translation by Michael Hofmann. The judicious selection of poems gathered in the volume (‘Angina Days’, Princeton 2010) allows the reader to follow Eich’s development as a poet in detail. It is a journey which accompanies and reflects upon the personal, political and social issues of his time, the Cold War, rearmament, the German “Economic Miracle”, the Vietnam War, the suffering of the poor and oppressed. In his detailed review for The Berlin Review of Books, reviewer Axel Vieregg, himself a notable Eich scholar, offers annotations and footnotes, in an attempt to clarify some of Eich’s concerns that might otherwise be overlooked.

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The Seductions of Poetry

The Poetry Lesson, by Andrei Codrescu, is a lucid yet playful book, that slips between memoir and fiction, jaunty anecdote and pure tangent, as it describes the first lesson of an ‘Introduction to Poetry Writing’ course, in the last year of its teacher’s institutional career. While Codrescu’s displays a light touch and an elegant frivolity throughout, the very cleverness of his approach leads reviewer Rupert Thomson to ponder what is left of the sense that a passion for poetry will achieve anything.