Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 28 September 2015

  • The Man From the Sea

    they find him in a dinner suit of salt
    and sand, his passport seaweed, an ensemble
    of herring gulls behind him in the drizzle.

    he says nothing, but lets the surging felt-
    surf caper through the piano case
    to grand surprise. The heavy epaulettes
    of hands weigh on his shoulders: this
    is his hour of fame, a time of tablets,

    Autumn nights with nurses floating
    like icebergs through the wards. In the clinic
    garden the last leaves flutter
    beneath the walls. From an old cabin,
    where ivy rises, drifts the muted tinkle
    of a piano. Some believe it is Chopin.


    by Jan Wagner
    translated by Iain Galbraith


    On Friday 23 October, poets Sarah Corbett and Eleanor Rees will be visiting Oxford to read from their exciting new books in an event organized by the Poetry Centre. It will take place at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Jericho, and all are very welcome! More details can be found via Facebook.

    ‘The Man From the Sea’ is copyright © Jan Wagner, 2015. It is reprinted from Self-Portrait with a Swam of Bees (Arc Publications, 2015) by permission of Arc Publications

    Notes from Arc Publications:

    Jan Wagner studied English in Hamburg, Dublin and Berlin, where he has lived since 1995. A poet, essayist and translator of British and American poetry by Charles Simic, Simon Armitage, Matthew Sweeney, and Robin Robertson, he was also, until 2003, co-publisher of The Outside of the Element, a boxed loose-leaf periodical based on an idea by Marcel Duchamp. He has published six volumes of poetry and has received numerous awards, including the Mondsee Poetry Award (2004), the Ernst Meister Prize for Poetry (2005), the Wilhelm Lehmann Prize (2009) and the Friedrich Hölderlin Prize (2011).

    In Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees, Wagner is a vigilant, yet playful, chronicler of the quotidian, his meticulous handling of image and sound forging a worldly, almost luminous palpability. Intensely curious, constantly attentive to novel or unanticipated possibilities afforded by traditional forms, Wagner’s poems celebrate what he has called ‘our steaming, glowing, odorous, noisy world’.

    You can read a review of the collection by one of the Poetry Centre’s own interns, Inigo Purcell, on the Poetry Centre website.

    Iain Galbraith is a prolific translator of German and Austrian poetry, while his own poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. A winner of the prestigious John Dryden Translation Prize, and editor of five anthologies of poetry, his recent translated books include a selection of W.G. Sebald's poetry, Across the Land and the Water (2011). He is also a widely performed translator of British and Irish drama into German.

    Since it was founded in 1969, Arc Publications has adhered to its fundamental principles – to introduce the best of new talent to a UK readership, including voices from overseas that would otherwise remain unheard in this country, and to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. As well as its page on Facebook, you can find Arc on Twitter. Visit Arc’s website to join the publisher’s mailing list, and to find full details of all publications and writers. Arc offers a 10% discount on all books purchased from the website (except Collectors’ Corner titles). Postage and packing is free within the UK.

    Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.