Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poems for the Millennium III: The University of California Book of Romantic and Post-Romantic Poetry

Maxine Chernoff and I are excited that our Hölderlin translation is now in print and available at bookstores,, and the Omnidawn site, The first publication event last night at Moe's in Berkeley was a success, and it was great also to hear the work of Lyn Hejinian, Hank Lazer, and Tyrone Williams. The next reading is on October 29, 7:30 p.m., at Xavier Hall & Fromm Hall of University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton Street. This event will entirely feature our translations, so we will present work from each stage of the poet's career: early odes, later odes, elegies and hymns, fragments of hymns, plans and fragments, the last poems, which he often signed as Scardanelli and assigned dates such as 1648 (long before he was born) and 1849 (six years after his death), and the great prose poem of uncertain origin, "In Lovely Blue."

The magnificent photo above, by David Maisel, Mining Project: Butte, Montana, 100, is the basis of our book's cover design. We are grateful for its use. The image is of sunlight and clouds reflected in the metallic water of a quarry.

Our sincere apologies to Jeffrey Robinson for failing to name him, in the book's acknowledgments, as co-editor, with Jerome Rothenberg, of the forthcoming Poems for the Millennium III: The California Book of Romantic and Post-Romantic Poetry, in which our translation of Hölderlin's "In the Forest" appears. We are honored to be associated with that volume, which from Lyn's report is a magnificent presentation of Romantic poetry from across the cultures and generations. More than 900 pages in length, it will be published in January of 2009.

[Plans and Fragments 12]

Often I desire to travel as the speed of the sun, in its wide arc,
from its rising to its setting, often in song
to follow ancient nature in its perfect course,
And, as the general wears an eagle on his helmet in war and
Triumph, so I wish that the sun would carry me,
How mighty the longing of mortals.
But a god lives in men, so they can see what has passed
And what is to come, and, as the mountain stream wanders to its
Source through time, from the silent
Book of deeds through which he knows his past
-----the sun's golden plunder

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin

Please join us at two book events to celebrate the publication of Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin (Omnidawn Publishing, 2008), a 496 pp. paperback with facing English and German, edited and translated by Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover.

'To the groundbreaking Hölderlin translations of Michael Hamburger and Richard Sieburth one must now add the sumptuous new versions by two gifted poets, Paul Hoover and Maxine Chernoff. This is a book to be treasured.' -John Ashbery

'This generous selection elucidates Hölderlin's complex vision with perfect contemporary pitch. It is a version for our moment.' -Rosmarie Waldrop

'This is an admirable presentation of Hölderlin's poetry for English readers. The understanding of Hölderlin aptly embodies scholarly authority, and the translations of the poems have a quiet dignity, avoiding stylistic ornamentation and in the directness of the language displaying much of Hölderlin's ability to convey the arresting immediacy of things.' -Robert Alter

'More than his famous contemporaries, Goethe and Schiller, it is Friedrich Hölderlin, the poet of incessant change and transformation, who today stands as the major poet of his age--and whose visionary work has remained a plum line that helps us fashion the complexities (the beauty and the terror, the 'inside real and the outsideral,' as the poet Edward Dorn put it)of our own age. In their elegant and fluid translations of this excellent and exhaustive selection of poems, Paul Hoover and Maxine Chernoff capture the work's extreme contemporaneity, what they themselves have called 'the drama of Hölderlin's consciousness, the beauty of his lyrics, and the largeness of his vision.' -Pierre Joris

'Friedrich Hölderlin was one of the world's strangest, most rarefied poets, one we need continually to be reacquainted with. The imaginative landscape of his poetry is that of his dearly loved homeland, Germany, but it is peopled with the mythic figures, and the concepts and emotions, of classical antiquity, and his rhetoric and his formal repertoire appear to have little to do with either his own time or ours. Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover have taken on what seems an almost impossible task. They have made a substantial selection from this idiosyncratic, compulsively remote writer, who for much of his life was 'mad' and is often described today as a 'pure' poet, and have put his work into a language that can hold meaning and attraction for an impure age largely indifferent to the ideals Hölderlin thought and wrote by. Chernoff and Hoover, themselves poets of distinction, have brought to their versions both the instinct to make this difficult body of work transparent, and the desire to preserve its own quiddity. The resulting transcreations are a notable, rewarding, eminently readable addition to the range of Hölderlin's work in English.' -Michael Hulse

Moe's Books
2476 Telegraph Avenue
Berkeley, CA
Tuesday, October 21, 7:30 p.m.
also featuring new Omnidawn books by Lyn Hejinian,
Hank Lazer, and Tyrone Williams

Lone Mountain Readings
University of San Francisco
Xavier Hall/Fromm Hall
Main Campus, 2130 Fulton Street
Wednesday, October 29, 7:30 p.m.

Order online from