From the Germanic Soup


  • David Colmer



poetry, translation, Frisian


The translation I am presenting here is particularly complex because the poem, by the former poet laureate of Friesland, Eeltsje Hettinga, is about the German-language poet Paul Celan, his life and work, his relationship with the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann, and his death in Paris in 1970. All too often there is a tendency to see the literature of minor languages as interesting only inasmuch as it fills the gaps in the canon by concentrating on its own provincial, often rural, backward-looking reality, as if the interconnectedness of the twenty-first century doesn’t extend across the whole planet or as if languages that are being pushed back into the private, familial sphere can’t be used to reflect on the literary and political world that impinges on that sphere.

Author Biography

David Colmer

David Colmer is an Australian translator, writer and editor, and a longtime resident of Amsterdam. He has won many prizes for his literary translations including the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (both with novelist Gerbrand Bakker) and the NSW Premier’s Translation Prize for his body of work. Recent poetry translations include Beautiful Things by Menno Wigman and Chameleon |Nachtroer by Charlotte Van den Broeck.