The Austrian Riveter: TWO POEMS by Evelyn Schlag, translated by Karen Leeder, introduced by Anna Blasiak

Evelyn Schlag has published a wide range of critically acclaimed books in her native German (poetry, prose, short stories). So far two volumes of her poems have appeared in English (with Carcanet), as well as one novel. She absolutely mesmerised me with her quiet attention to detail, her skill in talking about those tender moments that often go unnoticed.

last evening, november 1957

the bedroom stayed where it was.
the windows did not crash to the street.
there was no howling from the hills
that thundered down into the town

as mother followed father to
new york for 8 months. the child lay 
in bed with her plaits cast a love-sick 
look towards the mother who was still

sitting at her side. 
	    taken up into my grandparents’ care
i will be in the very best hands said the child.
in the soaring flight of the child’s gaze 
    	the mother’s response sank
		into the heart of childhood.

on the nightstand her father laughed 
white coat stethoscope round his neck.
the teddy bear slept eyes open.
kodachrome 1958

is that still her child
with the long 
loose and longer than her blouse

on the doorframe she grows 
        another mark taller

while her mother
              with her Jackie-glasses 
smiles into the sun 
	in central park

bright blue sky
that lends the tall 
	 white buildings
its name sky

scrapers - he she it is
while the waterfall
of shining hair
	sweeps and flows 
down to the hollow of the
	            child’s knee

white waterfall 
	of the storeys
of the sky-high scrapers
	 at back of the 

beautiful mother 
	       in new york

By Evelyn Schlag

Translated by Karen Leeder

From the sequence ‘Fotoalbum’ (‘Photo Album’)

by Evelyn Schlag

Read The Austrian Riveter here or order your paper copy from here.

Buy books from The Austrian Riveter through the European Literature Network’s The Austrian Riveter page.

Evelyn Schlag was born in Waidhofen an der Ybbs. Since her debut publication in 1981, she has published more than a dozen books of prose and six books of poetry, along with poetics lectures and memoirs. She received the Austrian State Prize for Literature in 2015 and the Hay Festival Medal for Poetry in 2018.

Karen Leeder is a writer and Schwarz-Taylor Professor of German at the University of Oxford. She is a prizewinning translator of contemporary German literature, including Evelyn Schlag, Raoul Schrott, Michael Krüger, Durs Grünbein, Volker Braun and Ulrike Almut Sandig, and has been awarded residences in the UK and Germany.

Category: The Austrian RiveterThe RiveterTranslations


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *