"The almost Biblical lushness of some of the imagery, reminiscent of the Song of Solomon, or of the Psalms, finds its proper level in Haxton’s judicious understanding of how to make the rhetoric feel, if not exactly natural, then natural for the lexicon of a poet like Lasker-Schüler."—Tom Sleigh, award-winning author of Army Cats: Poems
"Haxton has undertaken a significant endeavor of bringing the life and work of a poorly known, earlier twentieth-century German poet to an American audience. The book, with its lucid and thoughtprovoking introduction, paired with the selection of translated poems, serves as an intriguing introduction to the poet’s work."—Jennifer Grotz, associate professor, University of Rochester
Else Lasker-Schüler (1869–1945) was born into an affluent German Jewish family. Following the death of her parents and the dissolution of her marriage, the fledgling poet became notorious in the fashionable cafés of Berlin for appearing in costume as a Persian girl or as an Egyptian boy. Her flamboyance was echoed in her poetry, which combined the sexual with the religious in its exploration of the ecstatic experience. Critics have long dismissed her poetry as decadent in its romantic use of references to moonlight, flowers, and woodland creatures. In his introduction, Haxton addresses such criticism by arguing that what others have termed kitsch and cliché in Lasker-Schüler’s poetry may be understood more fully as a kind of iconoclasm, like that of her Expressionist contemporaries, and as an authentic expression of emotional tenderness. Her poetry also resonates with the cultural moment of Sarah Bernhardt’s gender-bending stage performances and Freud’s sexual interpretations of the subconscious.
The poems collected in this bilingual volume represent the full range of Lasker-Schüler’s work, from her earliest poems until her death. Haxton’s translation embraces the poems’ lyrical imagery, remaining faithful to the poet’s vision while also capturing the cadence and rhythms of the poetry.
About the Author
Else Lasker-Schüler was a Jewish German poet and playwright. She wrote several volumes of poetry, plays, short stories, and essays. In 1932, she received the Kleist Prize, one of Germany’s highest literary honors.
Brooks Haxton has published six collections of poems. His poems and prose have appeared in Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, and the Paris Review. He is the 2013 recipient of the Fellowship of Southern Writers' Hanes Award, recognizing a distinguished body of work by a poet in midcareer. He teaches creative writing at Syracuse University.
Series: Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art
5.5 x 8.25, 152 pages