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The Fishermen Sleep

The Fishermen Sleep

by Sabine Lange

Bilingual English / German edition

Translated by Jenny Williams, with an introduction by Mary O'Donnell
Parallel text, German / English

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

Sabine Lange has been in print in Germany since 1987 and this, her first full collection, appeared in 1994. Her poetry explores the human — particularly the female — condition in the light of her own experience as archivist, musician and poet, and is set against the backdrop of the beautiful and unspoilt Mecklenburg countryside in which she has spent most of her life.

Written in a deceptively simple language with short lines and striking images, Lange's poems can best be described within the canon of European writing as 'lyrical', occupying a territory that many English-language readers and writers approach with some hesitation.

Much of her work is set within the landscape, and against the backdrop of the seasons, with the ice and snow of the northern winter bringing a particular meditative beauty which is sometimes peaceful, sometimes dark. But Lange can be upbeat too, funny, whimsical, exultant. Her subject is often love — the approach of love, the momentous encounter, abandonment to love and abandonment in the wake of love — and music also inspires many of her poems.

The publication of The Fishermen Sleep, the first English translation of Sabine Lange's poetry, opens "a new chapter in Anglo-German poetic relations", and the English-language reader is the richer for it.

Parallel text, German / English

...a lyricist much concerned with love and landscape, beauty and music. Her poems are meticulously much landscapes of the soul as of the soil...

Acumen January 2006

Jenny Williams's utterly respectful translations are true to the measure of Sabine Lange's poetics, revealing the rhythms and tones of the originator's distinctive voice and conveying these with enormous skill. The poems are accessible, yet complex and foreign, in the very best sense of that word.

Mary O'Donnell

Translator Jenny Williams, a longtime friend...has risen to the challenge; her interpretations of Lange's concise, ardent poems interact directly with the originals. ...the effect is pleasingly dynamic...the search for and experience of love...

Sarah Crown, The Guardian, 22nd April 2006

...a lively and attractive collection. There are buoyantly humorous poems... She writes of love, abandonment, music and the landscape. The language is conversational but the images are unexpected, allowing depth and much insight...

Stella Stocker, Weyfarers 100

...simple in language, Nordic in character and cool in emotion... Her love poems tend to be razor blades, serrated sharp images ...written with extraordinary strength...

Ruth Jenkins, Roundyhouse 20

The simplest, most unadorned style... the simple haiku-like statement...feels like a dominant force...

Fiona Curran, Orbis 138, Autumn 2006

120 pages
ISBN 978-1-904614-20-3
Published December 2005

» About Sabine Lange