In the context of the exhibition about Paul Celan’s poem ‘A grave in the clouds’, the Jewish Cultural Quarter and Perdu are organizing a poetry reading on the experience of living and writing between languages.
Few figures were of such importance in the work and life of Paul Celan as was his mother, Friederike Antschel. It was through her that he learned the language he would write in for almost his entire life. Even after that language, German, had become the language of death, the language of the ones who murdered his parents, he refused to renounce it. ‘The motherword led me,’ he would write. Celan was also an extraordinary translator, whose versions of, among others, Mandelstam, Baudelaire, Dickinson, and Shakespeare are examples of what translation at its most radical can be and do. Growing up in polyglot Bukovina and then living in Paris after the war, Celan traveled back and forth between six languages, but always returned to the language of his mother. In fact, his entire oeuvre could be read as one great quarrel with his mother tongue.
April 11, 2021