Purgatory, Raúl Zurita, tr. Anna Deeny. (U California P) $19.95
One of three Zurita titles published in English translation in 2009, Purgatory is beautifully produced, well translated, and as lyrically chilling as when it was first written in the shadow of Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship of Chile. His collection is organically political, like Neruda’s most charged work (quoted in Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize speech, for example), and his experimentation with incorporated imagery is especially noteworthy. Both the introduction by C.D. Wright and the notes by translator Anna Deeny help contextualize the slender, complex text, the publication of which seems especially timely in contemporary English-language literature.
From Molossus endeavor Year of Poetry:
transcript, Heimrad Bäcker, tr. Patrick Greaney & Vincent King. (Dalkey Archive Press) $16.95
In transcript Bäcker collects and reorganizes quotations from Holocaust planners, perpetrators, and victims. An arresting collection of poetry in itself, it’s also a commentary on the translation or appropriation inherent to all poetry. The book’s genesis is also interesting: as a teenager Bäcker was himself active in the regional leadership of the Hitler Youth, joining the Nazi party at age 18; beginning in the late sixties coming to terms with his wartime activity began to consume his literary output. Not at all offered as an apology of forgetting, transcript is an acknowledgement of intense misdeed. Its medium allows it to stand as a most intimate memorial.