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Ventrakl by Christian Hawkey | 15-Apr-17

Staff Pick from our Poetry Library Open Day 2016.

Ventrakl / Christian Hawkey -- New York: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010.

Christian Hawkey turned to Georg Trakl when faced with the ineffectiveness of the largest anti-war protest in history 'to talk: to cross a boundary, a border'. Through 'homographonic' translation (for example Erfullen becomes "earfuls" or "sullen elves"; Hoffnungslosen, "rough, loose nuns"), digital translation tools, ekphrasis and even shooting the book, Hawkey enacts a séance to speak to and through Trakl.

The translations can be tender and comic but also stark, producing a commentary on wars' 'own reunions': 'Orphans die more gleefully in the green West'.

Piecing through Trakl's life, Hawkey grows closer to the figure he has summoned, at times conversing with intimacy and tenderness. His personal history is mirrored against the haunting and mourning of translation. As Hawkey attempts to bridge the 100-year gap between himself and Trakl, between present and past wars, he stands close with Trakl, speaking as 'two sternums, facing each other'.

Katarina Kelsey
Library Assistant

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