Magazine article World Literature Today

Summer Reads

Magazine article World Literature Today

Summer Reads

Article excerpt

For WLT's editor in chief, his summer reading list takes him to Europe, where he studied abroad twenty-five years ago (1988-89), just as the communist regimes in the Eastern Bloc were beginning to implode. Yet even before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the start of the Velvet Revolution, and on the very day Poland's Solidarity Party won 99 percent of the seats in national elections, tanks were rolling in to crush the protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, half a world away. Looking back twenty-five years, what have we learned from those events?

1 The Vocation of Poetry

Durs Grünbein

Michael Eskin, tr.

Writing from the heart of Mitteleuropa, Durs Grünbein has been described as the best poet to emerge in Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall (NYRB). The title piece of this recent collection-a speech delivered by Grünbein on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Frankfurt Poetry Lectures-starts out with a bold indictment: "If atrocities like [the Shoah] were possible, then the accusation that poetry is useless and insignificant seems justified." If poetry is on trial here, I can't wait to hear the prosecution's arguments-but I suspect that Grünbein is a witness for the defense. …

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