Rich new translations of one of the most important poets of our time.
Winner of the Griffin Prize for Poetry (2001)
Paul Celan s widely recognized as the greatest and most studied post-war European poet. At once demanding and highly rewarding, his poetry dominates the field in the aftermath of the Holocaust. This selection of poems, now available in paper for the first time, is comprised of previously untranslated work, opening facets of Celan's oeuvre never before available to readers of English. These translations, called "perfect in language, music, and spirit" by Yehuda Amichai, work from the implied premise of what has been called Intention auf die Sprache, delivering the spirit of Celan's work—his dense multilingual resonances, his brutal broken music, syntactic ruptures and dizzying wordplay.
NIKOLAI POPOV teaches English at the University of Washington in Seattle. A James Joyce scholar and translator, he also co-translated with Heather McHugh a collection of the poems of Blaga Dimitrova (Wesleyan, 1989). HEATHER MCHUGH is Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington. In addition to seven acclaimed books of poetry and the collection of essays Broken English: Poetry and Partiality (Wesleyan, 1994), she has translated poems by Jean Follain and Euripides' Cyclops.
"In 'Glottal Stop,' the translators...take greater risks...but the poetic rewards are...at times breathtaking. One senses the originality of Celan's language in an English that is resourceful and adventurous, not strained. Language comes alive on the page as both vision and sound..."~Mark M. Anderson, The New York Times Book Review
"A wonderful, extremely significant book. This new translation has the bold music and expressionistic syntax that Celan's unique voice demands. The compounds and stretches and sound-tangles bring a startling poetic life to English."~Robert Pinksy
""If any American poet can render Celan's knotty German into English it's McHugh, who's justly praised for her linguistic facility and quickness. Couple this with Popov's scholarly notes and annotations — he seems to have tracked down nearly every conceivable reference embedded in these poems — and the result is a thrilling excursion that gives the lie to the long-standing belief that late Celan is untranslatable.""~San Francisco Chronicle
""The solutions that Popov-McHugh find to the problems set by Celan are sometimes dazzlingly creative.""~J.M. Coetzee, New York Review of Books
""In 'Glottal Stop,' the translatorstake greater risksbut the poetic rewards areat times breathtaking. One senses the originality of Celan's language in an English that is resourceful and adventurous, not strained. Language comes alive on the page as both vision and sound""~Mark M. Anderson, The New York Times Book Review
""Heather McHugh, herself a renowned poet, has an ear for the dense and difficult music of Celan's language, and one can hear overtones of her distinctive voice . . . Nikolai Popov, a Joyce scholar, is present here too, bringing his 'logician's nature' to bear on Celan's labyrinthine philosophical gestures. The tug-of-war between these impulses toward lyric intimacy and analytical distance mirrors the tension between Celan's love of language and his knowledge of its limitations. The result is something like a volume of Heidegger into which someone has slipped a handful of achingly beautiful love letters . . . It is a broken, distinctly human music that Popov and McHugh render in English in Glottal Stop.""~Voice Literary Supplement