#Poets on Friday ~ Ingeborg Bachmann introduced by Professor Rainer Schulte, Center for Translation Studies, University of Texas

Hello out there, how are you on this Friday morning? I hope you are well and if not that you find help with a poem and someone who holds you tight.

Today I want to introduce you to the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann. I stumbled over her poetry first at school but later in a poetry book about German writing poetesses that my step-mum gave me. Her words resonated with me but had a little edge to it. It wasn’t love at first sight but with more life experience her poems came closer to my experience.

To make your own mind up about her work have a look here at Poem Hunter

Unfortunately, I could hardly find anything about her in English but a short introduction by Professor Rainer Schulte from the University in Texas. There are also more poems by her on All Poetry.

Please follow the link underneath the video if it doesn’t play here on the blog.

video credit: UT Dallas Center for Translation Studies by YouTube

Happy Friday to you all!!!!!

50 Poets and Writers you should read before you are 50 (Part III)

50 poets and authors? Really? Bee, don’t you think that’s a bit much to ask for?

Sure but there is the “Cinnamon Challenge”, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” and the ” Hot Pepper Challenge” why not challenge yourself to read?????

Here are some more of The Bee’s suggestions of who and what to read! And if you are looking for more authors have a look here:

50 Poets and Writers you should read before you are 50! (Part I)


50 Poets and Writers you should read before you are 50! (Part II)

21. Rose Auslaender: I once owned a poetry book full of German female poets all through history and that is where I was introduced to Rose Auslaender’s poetry. Then I was not aware that she knew Paul Celan who’s “Todesfuge” used an expression of her poetry: “Black Milk”. I also did not know that her second name is my first: Beatrice. But her no-frills use of poetic expression in her later life impressed me deeply. Even though Rose Auslaender lived in the United States for a long time and wrote poetry in English I could not find many translations of her poems. It is worth though to search for them.

22. Marie Luise Kaschnitz: Another female poet who made me understand what the Holocaust meant not only for its survivors but for Germany as a country and its people: That is a burden and responsibility that will follow us for a long time. She is more known than Rose Auslaender and was also a short story writer and essayist. She has done a lot for Germany in way of coming to terms what has happened in Nazi Times.

23. Pia Juul: Let’s leave the dark times of WWII and post-war Germany and come back to today and to Scandinavia. It’s probably obvious by now that I am a huge fan of Scandinavian writers and Pia Juul’s “The Murder of Halland” are one of the crime books I enjoyed a lot even though I really could not connect well to her main character Bess who has to reassess her life after her partner Halland was murdered. However, this book goes a lot further than a pure whodunnit and that is what kept me reading and makes her a writer who belongs to this list.

24. Hiromi Kawakami:Strange Weather in Tokyo” is the only book I know of this author, however, it is as strange a love story as the title makes you believe. Slow and following the seasons Tsukiko and her former teacher become closer and closer and there are secrets to be discovered. There is no better way to journey into a foreign culture than through love

25. Muriel Barbery: I have not read many French authors and as I wrote yesterday I am not a huge fan of Emile Zola, however, Muriel Barbery’s “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” touched me deeply. It tells the story of a typical Parisian apartment block including concierge. You meet the inhabitants and find out about their happiness and struggles and it keeps you wondering if Renee the concierge will ever show how intelligent she really is. This is a great book told both from Renee’s view and Paloma’s a young upper-class girl who befriends the older woman.

26. Daoud Hari: This is a book and author I haven’t read yet but it is on the list of #supporttranslatedbooks: In “The Translator” Daoud Hari describes his work for international news organisations in the crisis region of Sudan and Chad. I think it is more important than ever to read books that describe what is really going in regions of the world where there is war because the news only tells us so much.

27. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Of course, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the more known authors in the world. However, his books sporting an intelligent and sometimes rather crazy version of “magical realism” are so entertaining, touching and often thought-provoking that you should not miss them.

28. Mamoud Dowlatabadi: Have I said before this is the strangest book I have ever read? There are a couple of those, to be honest, and Mamoud Dowlatabadi’s “The Colonel” certainly belongs to that category. If you are someone who likes to challenge your reading habit and discover a book that makes you crease your forehead in confusion then read “The Colonel”. It tells the story of the Iranian revolution in 1979 and one family who loses many of its members to it. Dowlatabadi tells the story from different point of views which was at times confusing to me. At the same time, it invokes excellently how confusing, frightening and disillusioning that revolution was.

29. Mahtem Shifferaw: Maybe the reason why many do not read translated fiction is that so many countries have experienced unbelievable trauma in wars and revolutions and their writing reflects that. Mahtem Shifferaw’s poetry certainly does that but in such beautiful words that you cannot escape its fascination. Please do not miss “Fuchsia”.

30. Elif Shafak: I was introduced to Elif Shafak in 2013 when I took part in “The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize” readers day. The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize” is now merged with the Man Booker International Prize. On that readers day Elif Shafak started out with telling us about her experience of being a judge for the Prize and she surprised me with how close her experience of living with a foreign language is to mine. She said she feels that the foreign language brings out other parts of her personality. It is also often difficult to express everything you want to say as there is a “gap” between your thoughts in your native language and expressing it in the foreign language. It needed until 2017 though until I read one of her books and I wish I would have done so earlier. “The Bastard of Istanbul” is a fascinating story of strong women who show just how divided Turkey is. It also tells the story of Turkey’s Armenian Genocide which made the book banned in Turkey.

To be continued…

I am curious:

which poets and writers do you think

I should have read

before I am 50?

(I only have two years and 23 days left so please be gentle 😉 )

50 Poets and Writers you should read before you are 50 (Part II)

Yesterday I showed you the first ten poets and writers I think we should read before we are fifty. Did you know any of them? Don’t worry if not I am sure you still have time to read all of them. I did mention other lists that mainly contain authors from America and Europe.

I did mention other lists that mainly contain authors from America and Europe and I so hoped mine would be a bit more “worldly”, however, I did realise that I do not know that many authors from Asia and Africa. That is a bit disappointing but gives me a goal to aim for #supporttranslatedbooks. Read Africa, Asia and Australia!

But for now, we get on with “The Bee’s Fifty Poets and Writers you should read before you are fifty”:


11. Hideo Furukawa: “Belka, why don’t you bark!” is one of the strangest books I have ever read. It tells the story of dogs used for war efforts from the second world war onwards from the point of view of the dogs as well as the kidnapping of the daughter of a Japanese Yakuza (member of an international crime organisation from Japan) who develops a psychic connection to some of those dogs held close by. If you want to stretch your imagination, learn something about WWII hardly anyone knows and love a good mystery you can’t go wrong with this book and this author.

12. Emile Zola: I have to admit I am not a huge fan of Zola. I have tried to work my way through his “Four Short Stories” the main one being “Nana” but I could not get anywhere. I found it hard work but I love the way he is able to capture the nature and character of the people of his time. Certainly worth a try.

13. Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain: Rokeye Sakhawat Hossain commonly known as Begum Rokeya has written essays, novels, short stories and her goal was to work for equality of women and men. I am not sure if her sci-fi novella “Sultana’s Dream” has been written in Bengali but I have put her on the list because it is important to emphasise that not all Muslims are terrorists and fight against the western world. Besides “Sultana’s Dream” is a highly entertaining piece of writing.

14. Hilde Domin: I was introduced to Hilde Domin while studying social work where I could take a course on poetry. We studied her essay “Why poetry today? Poetry and its readers in a controlled society” where she introduces the idea that a poem is only the poets “property” until it is published and readers can read it. As soon as a reader engages with the poem he or she will add to its meaning his own experiences and values and therefore the poem changes from what the poet has intended. Personally, I am not sure if poets do “intend” anything with their poetry but that’s another story. I loved her idea and that is how I see my poetry. I haven’t found this essay in English yet but you can find many of her beautiful poems in translation.

15. Alaa Al Aswami: If you want to gain an insight into modern Egyptian life in a highly entertaining way then read Alaa Al Aswami’s “Yacoubian Building”. It shows the life of the inhabitants of the Yacoubian Building in Cairo, their struggle and their successes. He was one of the few famous faces of the revolution of Tahrir Square in 2011 and many of those who gathered there are said to have been inspired by his writing.

16. Jose Eduardo Agualusa: If you are interested in Africa and in Angola specifically please read Jose Eduardo Agualusa. Born in Angola he mainly writes in his native Portuguese but Daniel Hahn translates them beautifully into English. I have read “My Father’s Wives” as part of “The International Fiction Reading Group” and his style that reminds me of Southern American magical realism hooked me so much that I also read “The Book of Chameleon’s”. He is said to bring Angola’s history together with fiction and that is most certainly a great way to educate yourself.

17. Can Xue: Can Xue’s “Five Spice Street” is certainly a strange book. You meet the inhabitants of Five Spice Street and the mysterious Madam X who might or might not have an affair with Mr Y. I have to admit that I had trouble with understanding the reason they ponder Mrs X’s age but I still enjoyed the book. It is written strangely enticing and it certainly made me read on to find out what it’s all about.

18. Ava Audur Olavsdottir:Butterflies in November” is one of the strangest books I have ever read and when I started it I wasn’t sure I would like it. The unnamed narrator is a translator who is supposed to take care of her friend’s four-year-old son who is deaf for a weekend but a journey together lasts a whole winter. The book does not only make you ponder your relationship with language but also gives you a wonderful glimpse into the otherworldly beauty of Iceland.

19. Hassan Blasim: To us Iraq today is a synonym of war, terrorism and danger but if you read Hassan Blasim’s stories in “The Iraqi Christ” you realise that the Iraqi people like us only like to live and give their children a future and what it feels like to be a refugee. These stories are strange, entangling and let you experience a foreign country through its people’s eyes. Hassan Blasim is a film maker who had to flee his native Iraq in 2004 because he made a film about the Kurdish area in Iraq. He has now settled in Finland.

20. Wolfgang Borchert: German poets are some of those who did a great deal to help Germany deal with it’s war time past. Many poets after 1945 either experienced the war as a soldier or were imprisoned in concentration camps and their work makes it possible for us born afterwards to understand what was happening. I was introduced to Wolfgang Borchert in school where we had to read his play “The Man outside” which he wrote in the first days after WWII. But to me his poem “Then There is only one choice!” is the most influential. It describes how a country tries to brainwash its people into going into war and in his opinion it is the people’s responsibility to say no to what a government asks of you. It works with repetition of words and lines and that makes it the most intense anti-war poem I have ever experienced reading. It also has inspired my poem “If you do not want war!”

To be continued…

This was part II of my list of fifty poets and writers

we should have read before we are fifty

but I wonder which do you think we should read?

50 Poets and Writer’s You should read before you are 50 (Part I)

Have you ever looked at one of those lists that tell you what you should have read before you’re a certain age?

I have and I have to say I am not impressed. Those lists could have come directly from your old literature teacher and hardly ever show anything new or exciting.

Neither do they show much worldliness either: if the lists come from America they mainly show American and European poets and writers and if they are from Europe they show them from Europe and America. And mainly books written in English.

But there is a treasure trough of great books written in other languages and then translated into English that you entirely miss out on.

I have said it before that I find the reluctance of English speaking readers to read translated fiction and poetry rather strange. In Germany translated fiction is a great part of every reader’s experience and in my opinion, it opens your horizon enormously.

The Frankfurt Book Fair shows that German readers enjoy foreign authors translated into German as it has mainly another country as a “Guest of Honour”every year. Well, sometimes they choose a topic like “George Orwell” in 1984. It will be France this year.

That is one of the reasons why I have started my Goodreads Group #supporttranslatedbooks where we read a translated author a month. (Well, that, of course, depends on how good my research is 😉 ). Never mind :-).

So which 50 translated poets and authors should you have read before you are fifty?

Here is part 1 of The Bee’s list:


1. Michael Ende: I am one of those adults who believe that you are never too old to read a good children’s book. And everybody should have read one of Michael Ende’s books. Most famous is “Momo” also know as “Momo and the grey men” and “The Neverending Story.” But my personal favourite is “The Night Of Wishes: Or The Satanarchaeolidealcohellish Notion Potion” in which the Shadow Sorcery Minister Belzebub Preposterous needs to achieve some evil deeds only to be stopped by, guess what, a cat and a raven. I’ve never laughed so much in my life.

2. Gudrun Pausewang: “Fall-Out” is one of the books that shaped my opinion on war and nuclear power. I grew up in the south of Germany close to a couple of nuclear power stations that weren’t all that safe in those days and the anti-nuclear movement was big. However, to imagine what might happen with help of Gudrun Pausewangs books certainly made me see things a little different. And even though it is aimed at teenagers or young adults no adult should miss reading it.

3. Selma Lagerlof: When I went to Sweden in the early 1990’s I took Selma Lagerloeffs “Nils Holgerssons wonderful journey through Sweden” with me. The book was made into a successful children’s TV series in Germany which I knew. What I did not know was that the book was intended as a geography teaching book for school children and believe me that is exactly the way I want to learn Swedish geography!

4. Erich Fried: I admit I jump a little around here. From children’s literature to one of my favourite poets. Erich Fried is an Austrian translator and poet who lived in London and is famous for translating Shakespeare into German. However, his poetry is poignant, funny and most of all peace loving. Anyone who wants to fight against bigotry and racism should know his “ 100 Poems without a Country”

5.Friedrich Schiller: I wasn’t one of those pupils who found the classics boring and most certainly not the authors of the romantic “Sturm und Drang” Zeit. Schiller’s “The Robbers” fascinated me and probably had an influence on my thoughts about inequality in societies.

6. Banana Yoshimoto: Do not let yourself fooled by the maybe funny first name. Banana Yoshimoto writes highly intelligent fiction in which you can experience Japanese life through the protagonist’s eyes. She does not shy away from controversial topics like transsexualism like in her novel “kitchen”.

7. Astrid Lindgren: Ah, let’s jump back for a moment into childhood and to Scandinavia (yes I admit my list is mainly European too). Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking and my mother are the reason that I survived a ginger childhood somehow sane. Her characters are a little crazy, out of the ordinary but show a child (and an adult) that you are ok the way you are. Don’t miss it even if you are grown up now!

8. Henning Mankel: Yes, we stay in Scandinavia and visit one of my most favourite crime novelist Henning Mankel. I stumbled over his Inspector Wallander in the library and was hooked from the beginning even though the series shows some rather brutal murders. What hooked me more was his support for Mozambique and their actors.

9. Lao Tsu: The semi-legendary author is known for writing the Tao The Ching and being the founder of Taoism. Even if you are not that into religion or philosophy the Tao The Ching is a fascinating book that entices you with its mystical language to ponder what life is really about.

10. Hermann Hesse: Like Schiller one of my fellow Swabians and I just can’t get enough of his books. I think I might have read most of them besides “The Glass Bead Game”. That is one of my old age I always felt. However his “Narcissus and Goldmund” fascinated me enormously as their friendship lasted even though they were apart for half a lifetime. Hesse’s books are full of metaphor and Indian philosophy but created in beautiful language.

To be continued…here

This is a glimpse into my world of poets and authors that I love and read.

Which poet and author do you think

should we have read before we are fifty?