cover image Colonies of Paradise

Colonies of Paradise

Matthias Göritz, trans. from the German by Mary Jo Bang. TriQuarterly, $18 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-0-8101-4581-8

Göritz explores the mundane, quotidian, and absurd in his English-language debut, skillfully translated by Bang. Composed of four sections that are situated in the cities of Chicago, Hamburg, Moscow, and Paris, the work is alive with questions and details. Göritz asks: “Am I getting carried away by springtime?” In “Alexander Garden,” he notices “the white carts, hot sausages, ices, pierogies.” In Chicago, he longs “to buy a pizza pie and even more// to sit in the back seat of a taxi.” Deceptively simple, these poems are, in actuality, concerned with “how bizarre we must be made out to be.” They fluctuate between the familiar, “Still, what’s up with living the life?”—and the philosophical, “I am/ a more unstable border.” Most important, Göritz pays sublime attention to the world. A father becomes “checkmated/ alone in the armchair.” On his way to a visit to his childhood pool, Göritz wonders “if the paint in the deep end/ is still peeling.” These moments communicate a deep relationship to the world, despite the world’s insistence on being, at times, unforgiving. Ordinary curiosity shines through in these finely crafted poems. (Oct.)