Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 30 November 2015

  • Black Beans

    In the afternoon I pick up a book
    In the afternoon I put a book down
    In the afternoon it enters my head there is war
    In the afternoon I forget each and every war

    In the afternoon I grind coffee
    In the afternoon I put the ground coffee
    Back together again gorgeous
    Black beans
    In the afternoon I take off my clothes put them on
    Apply make-up first then wash
    Sing don’t say a thing


    by Sarah Kirsch; translated by Anne Stokes


    ‘Black Beans’ is copyright © Sarah Kirsch, and translated by Anne Stokes, 2014. It is reprinted from Ice Roses: Selected Poems by Sarah Kirsch by permission of Carcanet Press.

    This poem continues our series featuring work from collections shortlisted for The Poetry Society’s Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize 2015, judged by Olivia McCannon and Clare Pollard, and supported in 2015 by the British Council. The winner of the competition was Iain Galbraith, who translated Jan Wagner’s book Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees (Arc Publications, 2015). You can find out more about the competition and all the shortlisted books on the Poetry Society website.

    Anne Stokes holds a PhD in German Literature from Ohio State University. She teaches Translation at the University of Stirling and translates from German.

    Sarah Kirsch (1935–2013) is recognised as one of Germany’s most powerful poets of the post-war era. She lived and worked first in East Germany, then (after political persecution) in the West, making her home finally in rural Schleswig-Holstein. Her poetry’s free-flowing syntax and fluid sound patterning reflect her lifelong resistance to constraint and convention. Anne Stokes’ translations above all capture the living sounds and rhythms of Kirsch’s writing. In Ice Roses Anglophone readers experience the full range of Kirsch’s poetry, from her early work to her last books, full of the strange beauty of her chosen landscapes. You can read more about the book on the Carcanet website.

    Carcanet Press is in its fifth decade, and continues to publish a comprehensive and diverse list of modern and classic poetry in English and in translation, as well as a range of inventive fiction, Lives and Letters and literary criticism. Read more about the publisher on its website.

    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.