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Ernst Meister

Wallless Space

Wallless Space

  • Wallless Space [Wandloser Raum] is a translation of German poet Ernst Meister's final collection and the last of the informal trilogy which also includes In Time's Rift (Wave Books, 2012) and Of Entirety Say the Sentence (Wave Books, 2015). Meister's poems are brief but dense, intense but playful; obsessed with mortality and the intersections of the everyday and the infinite. Bilingual (German/English) edition.

    Shortlisted for the National Translation Award in Poetry by the American Literary Translators Association
    Listed in the top translations of 2014 by Three Percent

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

  • Each of Meister’s poems is small, hard, pointing both somewhere and nowhere… his lines, in their brevity, can be both elegant and unsettling, evocative of abstract questions about the nature of space and how thought can occupy it… His paradoxes sit there and expand, as do many poems from this collection—lean, dense, kinetic, asking about the misty whole of being.
    Noah Dow, The Paris Review

    Often in mid-riddle, in recitation, in rending transformation, Meister’s poems perform magnitudes on a small scale.
    Douglas Piccinnini, The Volta

    Like his subject matter Meister's writing is ominous, intangible and inescapable.
    Publishers Weekly

    The earnestness and aplomb of Meister’s poems—which might also pass muster as a philosophical tract—create a space that allows for meditation on mortality and the eternities that bookend all existence.
    Christopher Shannon, Words Without Borders

    The poems in Wallless Space are the kind that call you back and make you appreciate them anew—they demand that you pause and engage philosophically, aesthetically, spiritually.
    Rebecca Wadlinger, The Rumpus

    ...Wallless Space is a brooding but never insular meditation on mortality, written by a deeply philosophical yet deeply humane poet. Meister’s poems are tersely epigrammatic, but also haunted and quirky, and above all fearless in their reckonings with our transience.
    David Wojahn, On the Seawall

    ...Vivid language animates the fabric of daily life, and even the simplest image becomes startling.
    Erica Mena, ATLA


  • 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. With Samuel Frederick, he has translated three volumes of poetry by Ernst Meister, including In Time’s Rift (Wave Books, 2012), Wallless Space (Wave Books, 2014), which was shortlisted for ALTA's National Poetry in Translation Award, and Of Entirety Say the Sentence (Wave Books, 2015).

    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. With Graham Foust he has translated three volumes of poetry by Ernst Meisterincluding In Time’s Rift (Wave Books, 2012), Wallless Space (Wave Books, 2014), which was shortlisted for ALTA's National Poetry in Translation Award, and Of Entirety Say the Sentence (Wave Books, 2015).

Publication Date: September 2, 2014

ISBN# 9781933517940 (5.5x9 144pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781933517957 (5.5x9 144pp, limited edition hardcover)

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