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Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees

by Jan Wagner

Bilingual English / German edition

Translated from the German by Iain Galbraith & introduced by Karen Leeder

Part of our Visible Poets series edited by Jean Boase-Beier

Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees, to be published in Arc's flagship translation series 'Visible Poets', combines the poet's unerring instinct for the surprising perspective on commonplace objects or events — plants, animals, landscapes — with a mischievous delight in the detail of the absurd, the precarious balance. Wagner is a vigilant, yet playful, chronicler of the quotidian, his meticulous handling of image and sound forging a worldly, almost luminous palpability. Intensely curious, constantly attentive to novel or unanticipated possibilities afforded by traditional forms, Wagner's poems celebrate what he has called 'our steaming, glowing, odorous, noisy world'.

Jan Wagner's poems start in particular things, creatures, persons, circumstances and, with wit and compassion, open into novelty. In the reader's mind they are still opening as they end. Furthermore, even by Arc's high standards this is an exceptionally successful face-to-face of poet and poet-translator. Look left, look right: pleasure on both sides!

David Constantine

Whether his subject is fennel or frogs, the Amish or Evel Knievel, Jan Wagner's combination of wit, irony, lyrical genius and philosophical legerdemain illumine and renew our world in the most surprising ways. Self Portrait with a Swarm of Bees, daringly and imaginatively translated from the German by Iain Galbraith, confirms Wagner as one of Europe's finest poets, a true magus of language.

John Burnside

978 1908376 82 4 pbk
978 1908376 83 1 hbk
978 1908376 84 3 ebk

144 pp
Published April 2015

» About Jan Wagner