Tag Archives: Thomas Rosenlöcher

Meeting Thomas Rosenlöcher

I met the poet Thomas Rosenlöcher in 2005, when he read at the Goethe Institut Glasgow, and have kept in touch intermittently since. But over the years I have translated a number of his poems – those published in the journal Modern Poetry in Translation can be read here.


He got in touch at the end of last year to let me know of a new collection, Hirngefunkel (Mindspark).

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He also invited me to visit him, and I travelled to Dresden earlier this summer. I met him and his wife Birgit at their house in the countryside nearby.

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I also had a chance to hear him give a reading of his work, in the odd but fitting setting of the Stasi-Behörde, that is, the building where all the Stasi files are kept and where they can be consulted by members of the public. – Fitting in the sense that he had his own problems with the Stasi in the old GDR; at the reading he joked that, at readings back then, he always tried to work out which member of the audience was the informer.

I came away with new insights into his work, and with an appetite to translate more of his work.

With thanks to Creative Scotland for their financial support towards the trip.

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From the German

I’ve had translations of German-language poems published in several magazines this autumn.

Banipal describes itself as a ‘magazine of modern Arabic literature’. Some years ago I translated for it poems by Adel Karasholi, a Syrian Kurd long exiled in Germany, who now writes in German. The magazine has now started to feature a ‘Guest Literature’ in each issue, and Banipal 42 features Germany. The editors asked me to translate six poems by Ulf Stolterfoht. He’s not an easy writer to translate – he himself has translated J.H. Prynne and Tom Raworth into German, and his work is similar to theirs in its slipperiness. I approached task with some trepidation, but was helped by Ulf’s patient responses to my questions, and I came to enjoy their unexpected twists and turns, their extravagant playfulness. There’s a good interview with him (in English) here.

Modern Poetry in Translation has published a poem each by Thomas Brasch, Thomas Rosenlöcher and Heiner Müller. It’s taken my translations of poems by Brasch and Rosenlöcher previously (issues 3/6 and 3/11 respectively). Heiner Müller I knew of as a playwright, until I discovered a volume of his poems when visiting Berlin in 2009. ’Napoleon at Wagram’ uses the dialectical method – like musical counterpoint – two very different narratives, about Napoleon and Lenin, are juxtaposed, and the reader is invited to make the connection.

Poems by Christine Marendon are in Feathers & Lime (2007); earlier this year I began working on her poems again, and four have just been published in Shearsman 89/90, and another two in the on-line journal no man’s land. I like the enigmatic imagery of her work: tantalising hints and glimpses of characters, situations and narratives.