cover image I Mean I Dislike That Fate That I Was Made to Where

I Mean I Dislike That Fate That I Was Made to Where

Uljana Wolf, trans. from the German by Sophie Seita. Wonder (SPD, dist.), $10.95 trade paper (60p) ISBN 978-0-9895985-4-5

German poet and translator Wolf (Meine sch%C3%B6nste Lengevitch) takes readers for a deep dive into her dual-language consciousness in this dense, word-obsessed collection. The slim volume, which won the second Wonder Prize, contains both Wolf's original German and Seita's ambitious English translations. Wolf's verse thrives in this pluralism, and the voices of others%E2%80%94including Gertrude Stein, linguist Roman Jakobson, and the original muse of psychoanalysis, Anna O.%E2%80%94provide even more lexical dissonance. Ample comparison can be made to Stein's style of repetition and examination, as in Wolf's lines: "oranges or restricted residence all round. oranges or a rather limited range of vision. oranges or it's like we're in prison." Pages brimming with text abut others that glimmer with space and silence. Wolf melds Anna O.'s psychotic maladies with flowers and oranges, paints scenes of asylum seekers in Bavarian forests, and considers aphasia and the language development of children. Throughout, Wolf's phrase, "plagued by such hard-word-finding," seems apt, as meanings elide, overstepping boundaries and coherence. An impressive feat on the part of both Wolf and Seita, the book revels in its own kind of aphasia, a linguistic confusion at once frightening and unforgettable. (Dec.)