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This review is taken from PN Review 115, Volume 23 Number 5, May - June 1997.

SETTING OUT AND RETURNING JOACHIM SARTORIUS (ed.), Atlas den neuen Poesie (Rowohlt, Hamburg)
DAVID KELLEY and JEAN KHALFA (eds.), The New French Poetry (Bloodaxe) £10.95
GEORGE GÖMÖRI and GEORGE SZIRTES (eds.), The Colonnade of Teeth: Modern Hungarian Poetry (Bloodaxe) £9.95
The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell (University of California Press) £11.95
The Selected Poetry of Dan Pagis translated by Stephen Mitchell (University of California Press) £11.95

What would an atlas of poetry be like? There would need to be both familiar and unfamiliar names (much as if you were looking up what used to be Yugoslavia, or the Soviet Union), juxtapositions at once haphazard and symbolically significant, and a more or less neutral coverage ('from China to Peru', as it were) which would be sufficient for planning purposes, without of course attempting, to supply the detail which would be required on arrival at your destination. In his Atlas den neuen Poesie Joachim Sartorius satisfies expectations on all these fronts: by grouping sixty-five poets in nine 'maps' (of which sixty five I had heard of, or read, twenty-eight), giving only Les Murray and Edward Kamau Braithwaite more than six pages; by printing the poems in German translation (or, where appropriate, in German), but with the original in reduced typeface, represented paragraphically with slash-marks, en face on the same page; and by reprinting in the original language irrespective of the country of origin. The book looks nice, as atlases ought to do; but one feels one's linguistic deficiencies keenly in shifting from Finnish to Latvian and in being unable to tell whether the characters are Chinese or Japanese. Sartorius's atlas starts in New Zealand, with Allen Curnow, as if the intention was to scotch from the outset any suspicion that the profection might be, Mercator-like, Euro-centric; and it ends with Roberto Juarroz, born (1925) and died (1995) in Buenos Aires, at roughly the same latitude as Timaru, ...


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