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Abwesenheit: Gedichte by Wolfgang Hilbig My rating: 5 of 5 stars The poems in abwesenheit (translated: absence) range from what appear to be straight forward denunciations of the socialist police state Wolfgang Hilbig was living in when he wrote them (1965 to 1977), to very lyrical metaphors with image densities approaching that of the poetry […]

On August 20th ECP Books concluded a contract with S. Fischer Verlag to publish Wolfgang Hilbig’s first volume of poetry in English. The title of the volume: abwesenheit In German that means absence. Hilbig grew up in East Germany, where writing and individual expression of any kind was subject to review and control by state […]

The sound alone was frightful, the clamor of the voices which came in waves matched the swaying of the barricades. The voices got louder and louder, the barricade swayed further and further, and then someone yelled that the barricade was falling. It fell, crashed to the ground, was stomped under the feet of hundreds. People […]

Several hours of drift surfing had turned our arms into rubber and exhausted us. We’d parked at what we called “Pipeline”, where an underground oil pipe to an offshore rig was buried. It was hoped that the waves at Pipeline would jack up more before breaking and get hollow. We’d come out of the water […]

In those days the pier was still made of creosote soaked black wood timbers, thicker than railroad ties, the waves on big days reaching up just under the planking; the power of the largest waves you could feel shaking the whole structure as they surged past the pilings, squirting salt spray up through the slits […]

Thanks to Tim Stegall for writing some pretty awesome music articles, many of which show up on Alternative Press. It takes me hours to read articles like this. Hours. I read. I listen to a song. I listen to the song again. I think about how the song affected my life. Often they are new […]

Recently browsing the New Direction’s author list, I saw a title by Nathanial Tarn, The Hölderliniae. This attracted me immediately, since my early encounter with Friedrich Hölderlin when I was still in the earlier stages of learning German had been quite challenging. There is a special density to his poetry, his unregulated meter, and no […]

How the mistakes and missteps of two men, one nearly 60 years old and the other 30, contributed to — or even caused — the English language debut of one of the most renowned and powerful German writers in recent history to be delayed by a quarter of a century: In the fall of 1989 […]

I wrote One Punk Summer in Berlin. I was spending a year on an exchange program between the University of Texas and the Freie Universität Berlin. I arrived just days before reunification. Pieces of the communist police state’s skeleton were still to be seen: A ransacked Checkpoint Charlie that had been taken over by the […]