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Ernst Meister

In Time’s Rift (Im Zeitspalt)

In Time’s Rift (Im Zeitspalt)

By Ernst Meister, Translated by Graham Foust and Samuel Frederick

  • In Time's Rift is a translation of German poet Ernst Meister's penultimate collection and the middle volume of the informal trilogy which also includes Wallless Space (Wave Books, 2014) and Of Entirety Say the Sentence (Wave Books, 2015). With their tortuous syntax and distinctive musicality, Meister’s brief, afflicted poems attend to the writer’s lifelong obsessions with being and mortality. Compact, abstract, and at times koan-like, their language might be described as an attempt at a written image of thought. First published in 1976 and appearing now for the first time in English in its entirety, Meister’s penultimate collection delivers a poetry comprised of equal parts philosophical rigor and lived experience.

    This is a bilingual (German/English) edition.

    Check out pictures and notes from Graham Foust's visit to the Ernst Meister archives: Part 1 and Part 2.

  • Like many other Eastern European poetries, Meister's work can often feel spare and startling, bold and quiet at once. In its questioning of faith, motality, and hope it echoes Dickinson.
    Arielle Greenberg, American Poetry Review

    Meister's work is mesmerizingly succinct and elusive, but also ambitious to a degree almost unheard-of among presently-observed aesthetic moments... Highly recommended.
    Seth Abramson, Huffington Post

    These poems are precisely what this world needs—a reminder that, as important as all the quotidian might seem, we are but sitting in a break in time where infinity stretches out on both sides of us...Foust and Frederick have done us all a great favor. Meister’s poetry could have been lost in the rift of time that he wrote so elegantly about...
    Alex Estes, The Rumpus

    Though Meister’s poems seethe with the grimness of our earthly existence, they insist that we still can reach, if tentatively, beyond it. Ultimately, In Time’s Rift is a book that seeks to reconcile the contradictions of life and to define the “rift” that lies between light and dark, life and death, the shadowy world we exist in.
    Sean Patrick Hill, The Kenyon Review

    A good, interesting collection, in a solid translation...In Time's Rift is a welcome volume and certainly suggests (as does his Georg Büchner Prize) that Meister is a significant poet deserving greater attention.
    Michael Orthofer, Complete Review

    For Ernst Meister, our mortality cannot be subsumed, only confronted...His lyrics read like existential ripcords, brief incantations to confirm our existence against the encroaching void.
    Kevin Craft, Poetry Northwest

    Conceptually abstract though accessible, Meister's poems blend the rigors of philosophy with the poet's lyrical yearning to unravel—without heavy-handed imagery or hopelessness—as they reveal a sobering explication of mortality's influence on consciousness.
    Martin Balgach, Rain Taxi

  • Ernst Meister (1911-1979) was born in Hagen, Germany, and studied first theology, then literature, art history, and philosophy (the latter under Karl Löwith and Hans-Georg Gadamer) at various German universities. After the publication of his first book in 1932, he published no poetry for two decades, a silent spell that ultimately gave way to the prolific last third of his life, over the course of which he produced more than sixteen volumes of verse as well as numerous other literary and visual works. Often compared to Paul Celan because of the brevity and difficulty of his poems, Meister tends toward a more abstract existentialism that renders his work both intensely emotional and inimitably strange. Having written outside the dominant literary circles of his time, he remains relatively unknown, though he was posthumously awarded the most prestigious award for German literature, the Georg Büchner Prize, having been informed of the honor just days before his death. 

    Graham Foust is the author of several collections of poetry, including A Mouth in California (Flood Editions, 2009) and To Anacreon in Heaven and Other Poems (Flood Editions, April 2013). He teaches at the University of Denver.

    Samuel Frederick is the author of Narratives Unsettled: Digression in Robert Walser, Thomas Bernhard, and Adalbert Stifter (Northwestern University Press, 2012). He is an assistant professor of German at the Pennsylvania State University.

Publication Date: September 4, 2012

ISBN# 9781933517629 (5.5x9 104pp, paperback and limited edition hardcover)

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