Thursday, 11 July 2013

Notes from the Celanworld

Pont Mirabeau, Paris. Photo by Gérard Delafond. Used under Creative Commons license

I haven't been reading Paul Celan quite as much in 2013 as in the previous couple of years. I have already internalised many of his poems, and frankly, sometimes I just do not want to go to that dark place. However, at any given moment I may have read an article about Celan, or work inspired by him, or something - there is always something. And of course, I do intend to keep reading him actively. Here is a little roundup of Celania that I have come across or been thinking about lately.

This video is a lecture and multimedia presentation on Celan by Pierre Joris, from 2012, which I recently watched. Joris is a poet, a translator and a major Celan expert, and his insights into Celan and the role of Celan's poetry in his own life are fascinating.

Courtney Druz, an American-Israeli poet, recently published a book-length poem called The Light and the Light, which I have been reading. Subtitles within the poem refer to poems from Celan's collection Die Niemandsrose (The No-One's Rose). This very interesting work draws upon not only Celan, but also the Biblical book of Ezekiel. The title is taken from Celan's 'Hut Window':

Beth, - this is
the house where the table stands with

the light and the light.

You can purchase The Light and the Light or find more information about Courtney Druz's work at her website:

This last is not recent, but I wanted to highlight this post on the Arty Semite blog (awesome blog name) which reproduces C K Williams's poem 'Jew on Bridge'. I have read a number of poems which were in some way inspired by Celan, but this is probably the best. Celan committed suicide by jumping off the Pont Mirabeau in Paris, and 'Jew on Bridge' circles around this image, confronting issues of Jewish identity. It's very much worth reading.

Finally, I recently came to the strange realisation that while I don't speak German (beyond a few words), I have reached the point where I can recognise a number of Celan's poems in their German original. While reading the facing translations, and trying to refer to the German, the shape and sound of the originals must have gone into me. I still would like to learn German, in part inspired by Celan and Rilke.

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