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This review is taken from PN Review 179, Volume 34 Number 3, January - February 2008.

A POET OF MYTHS Ulriche Draesner translates Louise Glück's Averno into German

One of the characteristics of Louise Glück's poetry is that it seemingly writes itself, as if no poet's hand were needed to inscribe it. This may be misunderstood as easy poetry. It is not at all. It is the craft of a poet whose imagination can fuse the personal with the mythic without sounding either confessional or grandiose. There are no neologisms, she uses what Ilse Aichinger called 'die schlechten Wörter', in the sense of 'schlicht', simple. Now a bilingual edition of Averno, Glück's explorations of the Persephone myth, has been published by Germany's renowned Luchterhand Verlag, the poems side by side, the ultimate test for a translator. Ulrike Draesner need not fear the test.

She studied in Oxford and Munich and has a degree in German and English Literature. She has translated Gertrude Stein and H.D.'s Hermetic Definition. Draesner is herself a lyric poet of the first order. Hers is not an easy poetry either. She has been productively influenced by Friederike Mayröcker, about whom she has just published an essay (among others on mostly women writers) titled 'Luna in Languages'. Draesner writes from within language, guided by forces that come from within the words, then ordered by a highly charged sensitive mind. This is, I think, what has enabled her to translate Louise Glück, forsaking the easy way, that of reading the lines on the surface of the events narrated (Hades building a duplicate of earth for Persephone; the ...


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