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This review is taken from PN Review 86, Volume 18 Number 6, July - August 1992.

LOVE / IS LIKE THE BREAKING OF THE SPINE Sarah Kirsch, The Brontës Hats (Cambridge: Street Editions) £7.99 A Selection of Poems by Sarah Kirsch, translated by Wendy Mulford and Anthony Vivis

Sarah Kirsch is a distinguished German poet whose work is almost unknown in Britain. She was born in 1935 and lived and worked until 1977 in what was then the DDR. In 1976 she had signed, together with eleven other leading artists, a petition asking the East German government to reconsider the Ausbürgerung of Wolf Biermann who had become too outspoken for the regime. (During a concert tour in West Germany, Biermann was stripped of his DDR citizenship and forbidden to return.) But this open display of dissent was of no avail, and Sarah Kirsch, in the wake of her part in the protest, left the DDR the following year, together with her eight year old son, and settled in West Germany. The move 'from Germany to Germany' did not silence the poet, and Sarah Kirsch continued to write and publish poetry, but until now no representative English translations of her work were available. Even the well-anotated and informative collection, Three Contemporary German Poets: Wolf Biermann, Sarah Kirsch, Reiner Kunze (ed. Peter J. Graves, Leicester University Press, 1985) requires a competent knowledge of German. Wendy Mulford's and Anthony Vivis's translations - with parallel German texts - are therefore a much needed and welcome introduction to the work of Sarah Kirsch.

The selection of poems in The Brontës Hats falls in two parts: the first contains published work of the period 1969-89 and covers most of the poems in Three Contelmporary Gennan Poets as well as new work, ...


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