Etudes: A Rilke Recital
poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke
In his introduction to Etudes: A Rilke Recital, Art Beck notes that “translating poetry is writing poetry, only harder.” But he also views it as an art akin to musical performance. Returning to these pieces by Rilke many times over the years, Beck came to realize that “it wasn’t so much to perfect or polish the English renditions as to listen more closely to the ‘original score.’” In addition to selections from The Book of Images and New Poems, this volume includes the complete Sonnets to Orpheus, which the translator contends are best experienced as a cycle akin to “a wandering piece of music with various crescendos, diminuendos, pauses, and arias.” Those who appreciate Rilke’s lyrical style and mystical underpinnings will find much to admire in these new translations. Those interested in approaches to poetry translation will benefit from the translator’s accompanying commentary discussing how Rilke’s “broad range and multiple personalities” almost require multiple translators and voices.
ISBN: 978-1-951651-56-5 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
Released December 2020
Art Beck is a poet, essayist, and translator whose work has appeared in book and magazine form since the early 1970s. His Opera Omnia Or, a Duet for Sitar and Trombone, versions of the sixth-century CE North African Roman poet Luxorius (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2013), won the 2013 Northern California Book Award for translated poetry. Mea Roma, a 140-poem “meditative sampling” of Martial’s epigrams, was published by Shearsman Books in 2018, and was also awarded Honorable Mention in the American Literary Translators Association 2018 Cliff Becker Prize. In 2019, his poetic sequence The Insistent Island was published by Magra Books in its annual chapbook series. From 2009 through 2012, Beck was a regular contributor to Rattle, with essays on translating poetry under the rubric “The Impertinent Duet.” His articles on the translator’s art have appeared in Jacket2, Your Impossible Voice, The Journal of Poetics Research, PN Review and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He makes his home in San Francisco.
Wally Swist, “Review of Etudes: A Rilke Recital,” Your Impossible Voice.
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