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Poetry Book Society Choice: Venus as a Bear by Vahni Capildeo

No Text We're delighted that the Poetry Book Society's Summer Selection includes two Carcanet books - Venus as a Bear by Vahni Capildeo is a the Summer Choice, and All Under One Roof by Evelyn Schlag (translated by Karen Leeder) is the Recommended Translation. 

Venus as a Bear collects poems on animals, art, language, the sea, thinghood, metaphor, description, and dance. They tend toward, and tend to, the inanimate and non-human, tenderly disclosing their forms of sentience. We have feelings for creatures, objects and places, but where do these affinities come from? How do things, as things, affect us, remain mysterious while making themselves known? 

For Capildeo answers formed at their own pace, while waiting for lambing at a friend’s farm; exploring the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford; criss-crossing the British Isles with the Out of Bounds poetry project; or hearing of Africa and the Romans in Scotland, of Guyana and Shakespeare, while standing over-the-boots deep in a freezing sea off the coast of Wales. 

Many of the poems respond to real places, objects and people, as investigations, meditations, or dedications. They dwell on bodies and dwell in the body, inviting ardent, open forms of reading, in the spirit of their composition. 

In May Venus as a Bear is The Telegraph's book of the month -  Tristram Fane Saunders writes that 'Venus as a Bear is 100-plus pages of constant self-reinvention' - read the full piece here. You can also read a recent review of the book by David Wheatley in The Guardian, where he writes that 'bald enumeration of Capildeo’s influences, subjects, travel destinations and poetic forms might give an impression of dizzying multifariousness.... But the essential remains the same throughout. Capildeo, it is only fair to acknowledge, is a demanding writer, someone who stretches the conventions of the lyric poem in unprecedented ways; but Venus as a Bear demands nothing from its readers that it does not also repay generously. She is, among much else, a direct and sensual poet, warmly intimate and very funny.' Read the full review here

No Text Also on the PBS Summer Selection this year is All Under One Roof, poems by Evelyn Schlag translated into English by Kareen Leeder

Schlag's 2004 Selected Poems received the coveted Schlegel Tieck Prize, and once more Karen Leeder’s brilliant translations render a selection of Schlag’s most recent poems into English. The book draws on two substantial German-language collections, Sprache von einem anderen Holz (2008) and verlangsamte raserei (2014). There is also a new essay by the author in which she discusses the sources, politics and strategies of her writing.

Love remains a central theme for Schlag, but an associative inward journey with new diction, and new orthography, is underway. Rüdiger Görner in Die Presse responded to the vibrancy of what he called the ‘Sprachpulsate’ (pulses of language): ‘Evelyn Schlag’s poems have a kind of discreet presence; once spoken they have claimed their permanent place in the lyric cosmos.’ Leeder’s selection traces a uniquely Austrian imagination at the heart of contemporary European poetry. 

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