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The Fishermen Sleep

The Fishermen Sleep

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Translated from the German by Jenny Williams. Introduced by Mary O'Donnell.


The fishermen sleep.In their sou’westers sea foam evaporates from their eyes the scales fall onto the pale bodies of the fish who dream that the fishermen sleep.

“I’m not a political poet… I’m more interested in the landscape of the soul [‘Seelenlandschaft’]”. Sabine Lange

“Jenny Williams’ utterly respectful translations … reaveal the rhythms and tones of the originator’s distinctive voice and convey these with enromous skill. The poems are accessible, yet complex and foreign, in the very best sense of that word.” Mary O’Donnell.

Sabine Lange has been in print in Germany since 1987 and this, her first full collection, appeared in 1994 under the title Immer zu Fuß. Her poetry explores the human – particularly the female – condition in the light of her personal experiences as a musician and poet, and is set against the backdrop of the beautiful Mecklenburg countryside in which she has spent most of her life.

Written in deceptively simple language with short lines and striking images, her poems – often about love, music, the seasons, the landscape – are full of a meditative beauty which is sometimes peaceful, sometimes dark. But she can be upbeat too, funny, whimsical, exultant. The Fishermen Sleep is the first English translation of Lange’s poetry, and the English-language reader is the richer for it.

SABINE LANGE was born in 1953 in Stralsund , then in the German Democratic Republic. A trained musician, she has worked most of her life as an archivisit, since 1984 at the Fallada Archive in Feldberg.

JENNY WILLIAMS teaches at the Centre for Translation and Textual Studies at Dublin City University and is author of a biography about Hans Fallada. This is her first published volume of translation.

MARY O’DONNELL is a poet, novelist, translator, critic and broadcaster, based in Co. Kildare, Ireland. She is a member of Aosdaná.