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Oppressive Light: Selected Poems Paperback – 7 Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Black Lawrence Press; Tra edition (7 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936873184
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936873180
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 15.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 854,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniele Pantano is a Swiss poet, translator, critic, and editor born of Sicilian and German parentage in Langenthal (Canton of Berne). His individual poems, essays, and reviews, as well as his translations from the German by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Georg Trakl, and Robert Walser, have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous magazines, journals, and anthologies, including Absinthe: New European Writing, The Baltimore Review, The Cortland Review, Gradiva: International Journal of Italian Poetry, Guernica Magazine, Italian Americana, Jacket, The Mailer Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Versal, Verse Daily, and 32 Poems Magazine. Pantano's most recent works include In an Abandoned Room: Selected Poems by Georg Trakl (Erbacce Press, 2008), The Possible Is Monstrous: Selected Poems by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, The Oldest Hands in the World, and Oppressive Light: Selected Poems by Robert Walser (all from Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books, 2010-12), as well as Mass Graves (XIX-XXII) and Mass Graves: City of Now (both from The Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2011-12). His forthcoming books include ORAKL, The Collected Works of Georg Trakl, and Mass Graves: A Confessions (all from Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books), as well as Robert Walser: 3 Dramolets (New Directions). Pantano has taught at the University of South Florida, served as the Visiting Poet-in-Residence at Florida Southern College, and served as Programme Leader for Creative Writing at Edge Hill University, where he was also Reader in Poetry and Literary Translation. Pantano lives somewhere at the end of a line. For more information, please visit www.danielepantano.ch

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
`I'm not here to write, I'm here to be mad.' Some last words of Robert Walser 28 July 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Robert Walser's poetry comes from a mind that perceived the world in a manner different from others. His life (1878 - 1956) is worthy of a great biography, and in a sense that is what the opening Introduction by American poet Carolyn Forché provides in a brief but sensitive way. She provides a survey of the Swiss born, German speaking poet's progress from birth through his early work as a banker, an unsuccessful actor, a military man, and ultimately a writer and poet. The presence of mental illness in his family seemed to make Walser more aware of the transience of life - the vanishing life he observed and described in his poetry - and his final years found him confined to a mental hospital where he continued to write `from the pencil area' (he wrote poems and prose in a diminutive Sütterlin hand, the letters of which measured about a millimeter of height by the end of that very productive phase.) Highly regarded by such literary luminaries as Christian Morgenstern, Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, and Hermann Hesse. He has exerted a considerable influence on various contemporary writers, including J.M Coetzee, Ror Wolf, Peter Handke, WG Sebald, and Max Goldt.

Walser's poems are usually rather brief and condense and distill much emotion in a very few words, carefully placed without nodding to design fad on the page:

Here it's quiet, here it feels good,
here the meadows are fresh and pure,
and a spot in shade and sunshine
like well-behaved children.
Here the strong desire
that is my life dissolves,
I no longer know desire,
here my will dissolves.
I'm so still, so warmly moved,
I don't know, it's all confused,
yet everything's been proven wrong.
I no longer hear any complaints,
yet there's complaining in the room
of such a soft kind, so white, so dreamy,
and again I'm left knowing nothing.
I only know that it's quiet here,
stripped of all needs and doings,
here it feels good, here I can rest,
for no time measures my time.

A particularly poignant poem that offers insight into Walser's way of thinking is obvious in his poem that follows:

He quietly waved his hat
and left, they say of the wayfarer.
It tore the leaves off the tree
and left, they say of the harsh autumn.
Smiling, she shared her mercy
and left, they say of her Majesty.
At night it knocked on the door
and left, they say of heartbreak.
Crying, he pointed at his heart
and left, they say of the poor man.

And in a poem that whispers of his final days Walser wrote the following:

All the books had already been written,
the deeds had seemingly all been done.
Everything his beautiful eyes saw
dated back to earlier efforts.
The houses, bridges, and the railroad
had something quite remarkable about them.
He thought of the impetuous Laertes,
of Lohengrin and his gentle swan,
and everywhere great art had already
been achieved in times long past.
You saw him ride lonely across the fields.
Life lay by the riverside like a boat
no longer able to sway, to drift.

Robert Walser loved long, lonely walks. On the 25th of December 1956 he was found, dead of a heart attack, in a field of snow near the asylum. The photographs of the dead walker in the snow are almost eerily reminiscent of a similar image of a dead man in the snow in Walser's first novel, Geschwister Tanner. This book honors the memory and the artistry of a great poet: the poetry is beautifully translated and edited by Swiss poet Daniele Pantano. It is a remarkable book and one that every lover of poetry should read - repeatedly. Grady Harp, July 12
Five Stars 9 Dec. 2014
By Raul Donate - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
simply amazing
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