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Rolf Dieter Brinkmann

Two poems: Sleep / Poem Before the Beginning of Winter

translated from German by Mark Terrill


black zone, which
lies at the
of the membrane

like wind
that knows neither
doors nor

one time
a body that it is not
a body opens itself
and casts
a shadow

one time
there are shadows which
are never worn
by living

the shadows
of dogs, skin and bones
but for their heads
and feet

which run
through the hands
as words

words, the
pink plastic animals.

Poem Before the Beginning of Winter

The sentences
are slowly becoming heavier
again. Maybe it’s
something in
the air, or
that I haven’t
gone away
at the right time?

The air
is the same
as yesterday. Yesterday
it was full of
falling rocks
only today
do the boulders arrive,
the superfluous, the scream
of a confused speech
of hands and

That goes
by quickly. Faster
than I thought. Straightaway
it’s winter, and the
cafés are all

Rolf Dieter Brinkmann

Rolf Dieter Brinkmann

Rolf Dieter Brinkmann was born in Vechta, Germany, on April 16th, 1940, in the midst of World War II, and died on April 23rd, 1975, in London, England, after being struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street to enter a pub. Brinkmann had been in London after being invited to read at the Cambridge Poetry Festival, where he read with John Ashbery, Ed Dorn, Lee Harwood and others. In May, 1975, just a few weeks after his death, Brinkmann’s seminal, parameter-expanding poetry collection Westwärts 1 & 2 appeared, which was posthumously awarded the prestigious Petrarca Prize. During his lifetime, Brinkmann published nine poetry collections, four short story collections, several radio plays, and a highly acclaimed novel. He also edited and translated two important German-language anthologies of contemporary American poetry (primarily Beat and New York School, for which Brinkmann had a particular affinity), and translated Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems into German, as well as a collection of poems by Ted Berrigan, entitled Guillaume Apollinaire ist Tot. A full-length collection of Mark Terrill’s translations of Brinkmann, Like a Pilot: Selected Poems 1963–1970, was published by Sulphur River Literary Review Press. Some Very Popular Songs, a long poem also translated by Mark Terrill, recently appeared in the International Chapbook Series from Toad Press. A foldout broadsheet of 13 new Brinkmann translations, also by Mark Terrill, entitled Under Glass, was recently published by Longhouse.

Mark Terrill

Mark Terrill

Mark Terrill shipped out of San Francisco as a merchant seaman to the Far East and beyond, studied and spent time with Paul Bowles in Tangier, Morocco, and has lived in Europe since 1984. The author of 16 volumes of poetry, memoir and translations, he recently guest-edited a special German Poetry issue of the Atlanta Review, which includes his translations of Günter Grass, Peter Handke, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann and many others. A three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, his own work has been translated into German, French and Portuguese, and he’s recently given readings in various venues in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Prague. He currently lives on the grounds of a former shipyard near Hamburg, Germany, with his wife and a large brood of cats.
Mark Terrill’s collection of prose pieces, Bread & Fish, was reviewed by Stephanie Baker in Jacket 21, and Mark Terrill’s review of Jack Spicer’s collected poems, My Vocabulary Did This to Me appeared in Jacket 37.

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