Born in Dresden in 1962, Durs Grünbein is the most significant and successful poet to emerge from the former East Germany, a place where, he wrote, "the best refuge was a closed mouth." In unsettling, often funny, sometimes savage lines whose vivid images reflect his deep love for and connection with the visual arts, Grunbein is reinventing German poetry and taking on the most pressing moral concerns of his generation. Brilliantly edited and translated by the English poet Michael Hofmann, Ashes for Breakfast expertly introduces Germany's most highly acclaimed contemporary poet to American readers.
Born in Dresden in 1962, when the city was under East Germany's Communist rule, Grunbein has established himself as the leading poetic voice of unified Germany after the fall of the Wall in 1990. A gifted poet and clever scavenger of various literary traditions, he picks through the linguistic debris of European culture to mold his findings into well-metered and often deeply captivating verse. Packed into this selection, which has been culled from collections published between 1988 and 1999, are electrifying insights into Germany's effort to understand its role in the world today. Grunbein's predominantly unrhymed, formal poems run on the alternating currents of present-day Germany's giddiness at having no greater responsibilities than any other nation and the country's equally overwhelming grief at having so horribly squandered its potential for prominence. With wit and psychological acumen, Grunbein's poems at their best transform the specificity of this peculiarly German dilemma into a general, human concern. Hoffmann can be heavy-handed in his translation but generally locates suitable equivalents to Grunbein's virtuoso act of laying down multiple verbal tracks in the briefest lines to startling effect. Recommended for academic libraries and collections specializing in European and modern poetry.-Ulrich Baer, NYU Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.