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This review is taken from PN Review 191, Volume 36 Number 3, January - February 2010.

THE NIGHTMARE OF A MAD GOD ANISE KOLTZ, At the Edge of Night, translated from French by Anne-Marie Glasheen (Arc Publications)

Anise Koltz has been the leading poet in Luxembourg for many years and the publication of this selection from her four most recent titles is a timely gift to English readers; it is also deftly chosen, essentially dual-language, translated with skill, understanding and love. Koltz is the founder of Luxembourg’s most important literary festival, Les journées de Mondorf, and co-founder of the European Academy of Poetry of which she is now honorary president. Her commitment to poetry, then, is whole and unselfish. She has won several major European awards for her own work.

This work is unique, particularly amongst Francophone poets, in its form and technique and in its linguistic precision and clarity. Eschewing all established verse forms, decorations, rhyme or even rhythm, she develops her themes in a series of brief, acute observations. It is the striking thought and imagery of these outbursts, and the cumulative effect of the stab-like blows, that leave her work reverberating through the reader’s sensibilities. She began writing in German, but her husband’s death - he never fully recovered from his experience as a prisoner of the Nazis - made her continuing to use that language impossible. But she carries into French the immediacy and precision of German poetry, with a particularity, a haecceitas, that leaves French abstraction stunned and embarrassed. The progress of her brief poems, usually linked into a sequence, moves forward almost with a sense of the movement of couplets, as in Pope or Dryden, chipping at her ...


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