Deutsches Haus at NYU will present a reading of Paul Celan’s Breathturn into Timestead by the poet and translator Pierre Joris and a conversation between Joris and Paul Auster on Monday, December 1, at 7:00 p.m. at the Silver Center, Hemmerdinger Hall, 100 Washington Square East, New York, N.Y.
The event, free and open to the public, will be introduced by Professor Ulrich Baer, New York University’s vice provost for faculty, arts, humanities, and diversity. If you would like to attend, please send an email to email@example.com .
Paul Celan, one of the greatest German-language poets of the twentieth century, created brilliant works of pure musicality and striking imagery in tension with the haunting memories of his life as a Romanian Jew during the Holocaust. Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry gathers the five final volumes of his life’s work in a bilingual edition, translated and with commentary by the award-winning poet and translator Pierre Joris.
This collection displays a mature writer at the height of his talents, following what Celan himself called the “turn” (die “Wende”) of his work away from the lush surreal metaphors of his earlier verse. Given “the sinister events in its memory,” Celan wrote, the language of poetry has to become “more sober, more factual . . . ‘grayer.’” He abandoned the richer music of lyric poems, parins his compositions down to increase the accuracy of the language that now “does not transfigure or render ‘poetical’; it names, it posits, it tries to measure the area of the given and the possible.” In his need for an inhabitable post-Holocaust world that held the memory and anguish of that history, Celan experimented with a bold new poetics.
Breathturn into Timestead reveals a poet undergoing one of the most profound artistic reinventions of the twentieth century, creating a poetry grounded in his painful personal history and the ravages of postwar Europe.
Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry: A Bilingual Edition; Paul Celan; translated from the German and with commentary by Pierre Joris will be for sale by Greenlight Bookstore following the event.
Paul Celan was born in Czernowitz, Bukovina, in 1920, and is considered by many as the greatest German-language poet of the second half of the twentieth century. He survived the Holocaust and settled in Paris in 1948, where he lived and wrote until his suicide in 1970.
Pierre Joris is the author of some fifty books, including poetry, essays, translations, and anthologies. Most recently he published Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj and the anthology Poems for the Millenium Vol. 4: The University of California Book of North African Literature. In 2005 he received the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for his translation of Celan's Lichtzwang/Lightduress.
Paul Auster is the bestselling, award-winning author of 16 novels, including Sunset Park, Invisible, Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy. His work has been translated into more than forty-one languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Ulrich Baer is NYU's Vice Provost for Faculty, Arts, Humanities, and Diversity, and also a Professor of German and Comparative Literature. He has published widely on literary representations and historical testimonies of the Holocaust; on Rilke and Celan; on the history and theory of photography, and on contemporary art. His books include: Remnants of Song: Trauma and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan, Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma, 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11, Letters on Life: The Wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke, and The Rilke Alphabet.
The discussion is a DAAD-sponsored event. Additional support was provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.