Thursday, May 24, 2012

Poetry under Pressure

Uwe KolbeI'll be in Cardiff this evening for the beginning of a series of events organised by the University on 'Poetry under Pressure', and featuring two renowned East German poets, Richard Pietrass (right) and Uwe Kolbe (left). I've been asked to translate some of Pietrass' work, particularly poems from the 1980s reflecting on the experience of writing under the state socialist dictatorship.
Richard PietraƟ
There is a public reading this evening (24 May) at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, then more events throughout 25 May. The public reading will include not only translations into English, but also into Welsh.

As a taster, here's my translation of Pietrass' poem 'Frei':


Free

We live together without living together.
We’ve made no promise it will be forever.

Our eyes are freer when we look at each other.
We’re no home-makers; not father, not mother.

We’ve made no nest, no cell of the state.
On the edge, at the margins, there’s always space.

Living on the sidelines, we come first and last.
All those between define the standard.

Without living with me, you live with me.
When I thank you, it’s not always a lie.

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