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Nachoem M. Wijnberg

Nachoem M. Wijnberg

by Nachoem M. Wijnberg, translated from the Dutch by David Colmer

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The Dutch poet Nachoem M. Wijnberg is one of the most inventive, surprising, entertaining, and thought-provoking poets writing today. He is also remarkably productive, so that up to now only a small portion of his extensive body of work has appeared in English translation. 

This new selection of poems draws on all twenty volumes Wijnberg has published to date, constituting an indispensable introduction to this wry, off-kilter, spellbinding modern master. Wijnberg, not only a poet but a professor of business studies—hence his persistent concern with questions of value, real and false—writes only in the plainest language while displaying a formidable erudition. His poems engage economics, philosophy, and history; he writes Chinese poems and Jewish poems and classic songs; he tells stories that may or may not be parables; he writes from where the mind meets the heart. “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” Emily Dickinson enjoins. Wijnberg for his part has said, “Alienation is the last thing I am trying to achieve. The world is strange enough as it is and my poems help in dealing with that strangeness by bringing it close and as far as possible trying to understand it.”

Includes poems from the collections:

The Simulation of Creation (1989)
The Performance in the Nightclub (1990)
The Expedition to Cathay (1991)
Slow and Gentle (1993)
Is This Better (1994)
Gifts (1996)
Already (1998)
Birds (2001)
First This, Then That (2004)
Songs (2006)
The Life Of (2008)
Divan of Ghalib (2009)
If I Arrive First (2011)
Another Joke (2013)
Of Great Importance (2015)
For You, To You, Yours (2017)
To Give to An Angel (2018)
Farewell Game (2019)
Jewish Poems (2020)
Naming Names (2022)

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Poets
ISBN: 9781681376523
Pages: 232
Publication Date:


Nachoem M. Wijnberg’s poetry possesses the disconcerting quality of being at once extraordinarily strange and very close to the feeling of life as it is actually lived. Wijnberg brings the world close to us by being exact about the indecisiveness of the human will and by favoring the processes of our understanding of experience over the particulars of experience itself....Wijnberg’s approach doesn’t require new forms to astonish; his singular voice makes existing forms seem new.
—Thomas Moody, Rain Taxi Review

Wijnberg is a thrilling phenomenon in contemporary European poetry—his huge stylistic and intellectual range is matched by an exquisite sense of play and the kind of deep strangeness that, like Pessoa’s, is open to all comers. David Colmer performs an enormous service in making available to English-language readers the full scope of this Dutch poet’s philosophical investigations in translations of great lucidity and lyrical power.
—Alissa Valles

In a remarkably lucid and refined translation by David Colmer, this collection brings together a generous selection of poems from Wijnberg’s twenty volumes of poetry published to date. . . . Nachoem Wijnberg is a free-standing mountain in the sloping hills of Dutch poetry; a relentless innovator who has created a gorgeous oeuvre. Am I making him bigger than defensible? You can find out for yourself. David Colmer has translated more than one hundred and seventy poems. It is an irresistibly enticing collection to read, read again and cherish.
Neerlandistiek: An Online Journal for Language and Literature

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