Arc Publications logo

50 years at the cutting edge of poetry publishing

“A meeting point for poets of all latitudes”
— Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

While I am Drawing Breath

by Rose Ausländer

Bilingual English / German edition

Translated and Introduced by Jean Boase-Beier and Anthony Vivis

Part of our Arc Classics: New Translations of Great Poets of the Past series edited by Jean Boase-Beier

The experience of living in the Chernovtsy ghetto under the Nazis remains a dark undertow of all the poetry Ausländer wrote, though she rarely addresses it explicitly. The hardships of a life in hiding, the constant fear of Nazi terror, the horror of the concentration camps are all present in many of the poems. Other poems speak indirectly of the mother for whose sake she endured these hardships. Her late poetry, represented in this collection, brought her prizes and acclaim, and established her extraordinary simplicity as a distinctive voice in German poetry.

'There were two ways to respond to that unbearable reality,' wrote Rose Ausländer thirty years later, remembering the Czernowitz ghetto under the Nazis. 'Either one could despair entirely, or one could occupy a different, spiritual reality [...] while we waited for death, there were those of us who dwelt in dreamwords — our traumatic home amidst our homelessness. To write was to live.'

Ausländer, who died in 1988, was recog-nised as on of the truest poets of post-War Germany, a woman and a witness in whom the dark and the light, the ashes and the hope, are so finely balanced that we hold our breath as we read.

978 1906570 30 9 (pbk)
978 1906570 31 6 (hbk)
Published June 2014

» About Rose Ausländer