This Product is Available for Pre-Order
The lyrical, imaginatively-crafted debut collection by one of Germany's most important contemporary poets explores the "shifting of the mouth" toward the other, toward translation, toward a reckoning with historical silences.
In KOCHANIE, TODAY I BOUGHT BREAD, Uljana Wolf crosses borders from East Germany into Poland, from fairy tales to the tallying of land torn by fateful past, from women’s voices “hibernating in documents,” to Lavinia’s spilling forth of red language. Hailed by critics for its “brief strokes that open up a wide historical space in which political doom is still present,” this book is a testament that the cartography we inherit is equal parts limit and dare. Wolf’s debut collection won the Peter Huchel Prize in 2006—she was its youngest recipient. Nearly 20 years later, this bilingual edition—featuring a new introduction by Valzhyna Mort and Greg Nissan’s superbly-tuned translation—invites English-language readers into the “guest room” of poetry.
“Uljana Wolf's first book begins with pain, a hospital, with a daughter who rebels against the controlling word of the fathers. But it goes farther. Its mouth shifts, playfully inventive, though with a dark undertone of Polish-German history, to find bread in language. Then even a mattress becomes translatable and everything connects 'in this border trade / on my tongue.'” —Rosmarie Waldrop
“Nissan’s translations skillfully keep pace with Wolf’s brilliant word- and worldsmithery.” —Susan Bernofsky
“The persistent word/sonic plays in KOCHANIE, TODAY I BOUGHT BREAD, brilliantly re-rendered by Greg Nissan, are Uljana Wolf’s defiance—'my defiance is my instrument'—against Germany’s fascist history. The multiplicity of 'mouths' and 'daughters' topple 'sir father herr father,' generating linguistic displacement, hence subverting power and borders. Wolf’s language of defiance is a form of 'linguistic hospitality,' to borrow Paul Ricoeur’s term. She simultaneously welcomes and deforms 'our father’s embroidered word.'” —Don Mee Choi
“The child works tirelessly with language. Why is this ability lost to us? Why do we avoid foreign languages except when we can abuse them as proof of achievement? Uljana Wolf’s approach to languages is extremely sympathetic, liberating, and stimulating. … When she connects words with elegant lines, crossing the boundaries between languages, an unexpected structure appears as poetry. This is comparable to constellations: Between the individual stars lies a distance of millions of light years, but because their radiation reaches our presence at the same time, we can recognize an image.” —Yoko Tawada, Erlanger Prize Citation (2015)
Author Wikipedia PageHeidi Hart, Article on Uljana Wolf @ Music & Literature“Hidden Words” (essay) by Uljana Wolf @ Yale ReviewReview of Uljana Wolf’s Subsisters @ Publisher's WeeklyMonica de la Torre on Uljana Wolf’s Subsisters @ The Poetry FoundationGeoffrey Wildanger on Uljana Wolf’s Subsisters @ Chicago ReviewJennifer Martelli on Uljana Wolf’s Subsisters @ MerNúria Codina Solà’s Article on Uljana Wolf’s SubsistersJoshua Daniel Edwin on i mean i dislike that fate that i was made to where @ Music & LiteratureJoshua Weiner’s on Uljana Wolf’s “Sonne from Ort” (2013) @ B O D YUlrike Vedder’s and Erik Porath’s Article on Uljana Wolf @ De Gruyter
Uljana Wolf, born in East Berlin, is an acclaimed German poet, translator, and essayist. Her work crosses poetry, translation, and languages in between. She has published five books of poetry, and numerous poetry translations, including works by Valzhyna Mort, Christian Hawkey, Matthea Harvey, Erín Moure, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, and Eugene Ostashevsky. Her collection of essays and talks, Etymologischer Gossip (Kookbooks, 2021), received the Prize of the Leipzig Bookfair for essays and nonfiction and is forthcoming in an English translation from Nightboat Books. English translations of her work include SUBSISTERS: SELECTED POEMS (Belladonna*, 2017), translated by Sophie Seita, and False Friends (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011), translated by Susan Bernofsky. Wolf's awards include the Adalbert von Chamisso Prize, the Villa Massimo Rome Prize, the Müaut;nster Prize for International Poetry, and the Peter Huchel Prize. A collection of academic writings on her work will be published by De Gruyter Verlag in 2023. Wolf teaches translation and poetry at various institutions including the Pratt Berlin Program and the Institute für Sprachkunst, Vienna.
Greg Nissan is the author of The City Is Lush With / Obstructed Views (DoubleCross Press, 2019) and the translator of War Diary by Yevgenia Belorusets (New Directions, 2023). Their translations of Yevgenia Belorusets were presented in the 59th Venice Biennale, as well as in the accompanying publication In the Face Of War (Isolarii, 2022). They are the recipient of Fulbright and NEA fellowships for translation, the latter to translate Austrian poet Ann Cotten's Banned! An Epic Poem (2016) into English.
Born in Minsk, Belarus, Valzhyna Mort is the author of three poetry collections, including Music for the Dead and Resurrected (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020), named one of the best poetry books of 2020 by The New York Times, and the winner of the International Griffin Poetry Prize and the UNT Rilke Prize. Mort is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, the Lannan Foundation, the Amy Clampitt Foundation, and a National Endowment for the Arts.