Magazine article World Literature Today

Last Day of the Year: Selected Poems

Magazine article World Literature Today

Last Day of the Year: Selected Poems

Article excerpt

Michael Krüger. Last Day of the Year: Selected Poems. Stanley Moss, ed. Karen Leeder & Richard Dove, tr. Rhinebeck, New York. Sheep Meadow Press. 2014. isbn 9781937679378

Poet Michael Krüger feels with unmistakable conviction that one purpose in life is to fully illustrate how a day without poetry is a day lost forever. This is clear in the bilingual selection of poems presented in Last Day of the Year, in which this poet's distinct voice explores the delicately undeniable relationship between the seemingly mundane and the historically significant. Through chronicling his encounters between the two, this collection showcases the development of a poet's voice over time and enables Krüger to house the psyche of an entire nation within the lyrics of ordinary experience.

The relationship between the surface and the profound is initially framed with selections from Richard Dove's translation of Krüger's 1978 work Diderots Katze (Diderot's Cat, 1993) and his 1996 Nachts, unter Bäumen (At Night, Beneath Trees, 1998). Nowhere is the coexistence between the two more apparent than in his poem "Diderot's Cat," which contrasts the inner musings of French philosopher Diderot with his outward relationship to his cat: "Thirty years' labor towards the Encyclopédie / and still the machine's not working / the way it should. He gingerly probes / the bones, the bone structure, of his cat." Diderot's outer appearance does not indicate the excruciating mental and spiritual torment he undergoes. In much the same way, Krüger's masterful juxtaposition of Diderot's exterior surroundings with its conflicting world of knowledge highlights the transitory as that which often gives way to revelation. …

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