Zackary Suhr '14

Translating Gottfried Benn's Statische Dedichte

For my honors project I produced an annotated English translation of Gottfried Benn’s 1948 poetry collection Statische Gedichte. This late collection was important in rehabilitating Benn’s reputation following years of disgrace under both National Socialist and Allied occupying rule. It also heralded a new period in Benn’s work, less exemplary of his early graphic Expressionism and more concerned with reflection on the course of history and the significance of art. Although a number of the 44 poems had been translated individually, this is the first complete translation of Statische Gedichte into English. In my commentary, I locate the collection within the larger context of Benn’s work and thought, as well as elucidating obscure or outdated points of reference in the poems. My translation attempts to walk a fine line, maintaining fidelity to the spirit of Benn’s original while crafting English texts that operate with poetic integrity in their own right.