Merz is keenly attentive to daily life as a revelator of essential truths, and thus uses poetry as a way of returning closer to it; and “to unbecome what was.” Merz' “nearing” and “distancing” processes take place inside us, through language. By summing up so gently and exactly (but also sometimes drolly or pointedly) the movement of duality, Merz enables us to sense more fully, time and again, what it means to be alive: that “strange exhilaration within,” as he puts it in another of these splendid poems so vividly and resourcefully translated by Marc Vincenz.
Introduction I Aus der Forschung Research Shows Im rückwärtigen Raum In the Backward Chamber Regelwerk Regulations Pilotprojekt Pilot Project Aus der Forschung Research Shows Kerngeschäft Core Business Kurswechsel Currency Exchange Wechselkurs Exchange Rate Varia Miscellany Dann geriet er … Then he fell … Passiver Widerstand Passive Resistance Beglaubigung Attestation II Gang um den Felsen Jaunt Around the Cliff Face Durchs Tal der hundert Täler Through the Valley of a Hundred Valleys Zum Rosengarten Into the Rose Garden Erbgang Hereditary Stroll Passau Passau Am Mondsee At Mondsee Im Zug der Zeit In the Course of Time Hotel Tirol Hotel Tirol Borderline Borderline Universität University Nichts geht ... Nothing transcends Auf einen bemalten Ofen On the Painted Stove Nach Homer After Homer Ariadnes Schwester Adrianes’ Sister Hoher Wellengang High Swell Gang um den Felsen Jaunt Around the Cliff Face Still leben Still Life Letzter Wunsch Last Wish III Ein Zwischenspiel An Interlude Heißer Friede Heated Satisfaction IV Kostbarer Augenblick A Precious Moment Schauspiel Drama Im Wald üben Tambouren … In the woods, tambourines … Was zu beweisen war What Needed to Be Proven Kostbarer Augenblick A Precious Moment Leichtes Spiel Delicate Game Auf nach Grinzing Off to Grinzing (Austria) Bonsai Bonsai Anfang November November Begins Liebesgedicht Love Poem Bibliothek Library Nächtliche Ernte Nocturnal Harvest Meisterkurs Master Class Spaziergang Stroll V Geglückte Genesung Successful Convalescence Kreisverkehr Rotary Traffic Garderobe Wardrobe Treue Freunde, sage ich … Loyal friends, I say Ahoi! Yoo-hoo! Neue Heimat New Homeland Ewiges Licht Eternal Light Geglückte Genesung Successful Convalescence Er blieb den Tagen … Deliberately, he stayed the course … Wir legten eine irdene Taube … We placed an earthenware dove …
“Merz's is a voice unfamiliar to English-language readers, but this collection should remedy that. His language is clipped and terse, dry, precise, sardonic even. A narrative pokes through and light comes in short bursts as Merz takes careful notes, thinking and feeling himself into his subject, shaping it as if from fragments. It all adds up to a strange exhilaration, curiously impersonal yet packed with personality. These poems, expertly Englished by master translator-poet Marc Vincenz, delight, engage and tease the mind.”
"“Reading Klaus Merz’ spare and illuminating poems is like entering Plato’s cave and witnessing the light behind the shadows. As he writes in his poem, “Exchange Rate” “From the bright light/behind the apparition/ the poem recounts.” What is recounted however, is often as disquieting as it is enlightening. His unblinking honesty and lyrical genius offer a kind of dark salvation, or a salvation in the sense Camus might have meant when he wrote: “If one could say just once: ‘this is clear,’ all would be saved.” Merz is like a diamond cutter—he writes of the inevitable and the ineffable with incisive, shimmering clarity.”