cover image Subsisters: Selected Poems

Subsisters: Selected Poems

Uljana Wolf, trans. from the German by Sophie Seita. Belladonna, $18 trade paper (186p) ISBN 978-0-9885399-7-6

In this arresting volume, German poet and translator Wolf (I Mean I Dislike That Fate That I Was Made to Where) focuses on the variations and nuances that arise both within a language and through the transfer from one language to another. This multilingual edition focuses on translation as “an investigation of the slippages, moments of misunderstanding and ambiguity, from which a new articulacy emerges,” while being invested in the doubling and resonances that exist between tongues. What materializes are poems openly playing with and circumventing the borders between languages—snippets of English will sneak into the original German poems and vice versa. For instance, she writes “hier, in this net of tongues, one path was well-sprung, a mistake, mystique.” The title section is a series that focuses on women characters from American films of the 1940s and 1950s; their experiences are initially translated to the page and then reworked with the addition of subtitles, with Seita including a supplementary “english version” as creative translation. By tuning the mind to the ways in which language frames experience—and can even dance from one tongue to the next—Wolf shows how meaning and sense become an examination of “the lengevitch of a conjoined twin.” (Nov.)