Forthcoming in December 2023
A dazzling selection of more than one hundred poems that trace the development of Durs Grünbein’s work over the past two decades.
Born in Dresden in 1962, Durs Grünbein is the most significant and successful poet of his generation in Germany. Since 1988, when the then-twenty-five-year-old burst onto the scene with his poetry collection Grauzone morgens—a mordant reckoning with the East Germany he grew up in—Grünbein has published more than thirty books of poetry and prose, which have been translated into dozens of languages.
In 2005 the volume Ashes for Breakfast introduced Grünbein to English-language readers for the first time by sampling poetry from his first four collections. Psyche Running picks up where that volume left off and offers a selection of poems from his nine subsequent collections, which shows how Grünbein has developed from his ironic take on the classical into an elegiac exploration of history through dream fragments and poems with a haunting existential unease.
‘Nothing affords me more pleasure, as an enthusiast of poetry and the art of translation, than to come across both at their most accomplished, passionate, intelligent, thought-provoking, and world-creating. The meeting, or rather blending, of the minds we get to witness in Karen Leeder’s translations of Durs Grünbein’s poetry does not only offer us a sheer cross-cultural cornucopia rife with wistfulness, joy, pain, and meditative relief, but it also allows us to be addressed by one of the greatest and most singular wordsmiths alive through the English mask of one of the premier translators of poetry at the present time.’—Michael Eskin, writer, translator, and member of the American Academy of Poets.
‘Over the course of this expansive new volume Psyche Running, Grünbein’s eloquent, witty, metaphysical and highly formal poetry mellows to new reaches of wisdom and melancholy. His work is always a joy to read, but it rises to unforgettable magnificence in his long sequences about his home town Dresden—these works will be read and wept over long after the city’s scars are covered up. In Grünbein’s work there is a wry acknowledgement that the verbal legerdemain and virtuosity he draws on are in themselves features of a past long buried. Karen Leeder’s translations match Grünbein’s dexterity and playfulness, they themselves extend the potential of English-language poetics, and show us how we might simultaneously mourn and disown a legacy, whilst revelling in its splendour.’—Sasha Dugdale, poet, dramatist and translator and author of Joy (2017) and Deformations (2020).
‘Meditative, and yet surprising; lyrical and yet sweeping, this is the poetry of deep cultural knowledge and yet also one that impresses with its lasting emotive undertow. In the end, for me Grunbein's is the poetry that is in conversation with time itself: not so much its passage, but its ongoingness [ . . . ] Without a question, Grunbein is (and has been for quite some time) a major European poet. But what does that mean? In this time when loud proclamations fill the room (and spinal cord) with endless noise, when dictatorships pop up in country after country, when lyricism is on the wane in favor of the rhetorical directness, it is a relief, and a delight and a salve to know that among us sings (and whispers, and dictates, and searches) the voice of a poet who believes, despite everything, that “something shimmers, fine as gossamer, sparkles in the light”. And, despite history, poetry lives. Here in Karen Leeder’s terrific translations, we are lucky to behold an overview of Grunbein’s work of the last seventeen years.’—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa.
‘In the world of Durs Grünbein’s poems, myth erupts into history and history into myth and the present is cluttered with the eloquent debris of a deep past. Intelligent, learned, passionate and humane, this is the best poetry being written in Germany today.’—Professor Christopher Clark, Regius Professor of History, University of Cambridge.
Praise for Durs Grünbein’s Porcelain, also translated by Karen Leeder:
‘We were miraculously unanimous in our selection of Porcelain. Reading Karen Leeder’s translation felt like experiencing a genius collaboration between peers, it is simply stunning work that I would encourage everyone to read.’—Judges of Schlegel-Tieck Prize 2021.