Letters to a Young Poet

Reading and discussion with translator Mark Harman

Thursday, February 2, 2012
4:30 p.m.

The ten letters that Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to an aspiring young poet from 1902 through 1908 comprise a much-loved trove of advice on living a purposeful life in or out of the arts. Letters to a Young Poet is a new translation by Mark Harman, a Professor of English and German at Elizabethtown College whose translations of Kafka have been widely acclaimed. Harman’s view is that translation can be like a coating of dust on a painting, lending a patina that doesn’t actually reflect the underlying work. He undertook this new translation in an attempt to remove some of the accretion he saw in other English translations, so as to let the original art of Rilke’s letters show through.  Poet Billy Collins praises Harman’s “fresh translation” for reminding us that “Rilke is addressing not just his young correspondent but everyone, and that his advice is not only about how to write poems but how to live a deliberate, meaningful life. In these overly excited times, it is inspiring to listen to the patient counsel of this meditative man, this champion of solitude.”

This event is open to the public.

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