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The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht


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Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was a German poet, playwright, and theater director. In those capacities, and also as a polemical essayist, he contributed powerfully to the chief literary and political debates of his day, and lastingly influenced theatrical theory and practice. He left more than 2,000 poems, assuring him a place among the very best lyric poets of Germany. David Constantine is a freelance writer and translator. His most recent volume of poetry is Elder (2014); his fourth collection of short stories, Tea at the Midland, won the Frank O' Connor International Short Story Award in 2013. Tom Kuhn teaches at the University of Oxford, where he is a Fellow of St Hugh's College. He works on twentieth-century drama and German exile literature and has been, since 1996, editor of the main English-language Brecht edition.


"[A] breath of fresh air...Within the bold statements, the direct speech and the willful naivety there's a lyrical dynamism and verbal agility that allows its author to dance and skip his way through the potential pitfalls of political rhetoric." -- Simon Armitage
"A remarkable feat in getting the erotic and political fervor and humor of Bertolt Brecht into a strong answering voice." -- Harold Bloom
"His poetry served as the lyric laboratory of his personal, political, and philosophical ideas. Thanks to this astonishing compendium, English-speakers finally have access to this essential aspect of Brecht's writing and thinking. " -- Yuval Sharon
"We need Brecht more than ever, no less for his capacity to so movingly "take pleasure also/ in the song of every blackbird after me" than for the power of his political poems and songs to take on demagogues and dickheads." -- Paul Muldoon
"Brecht was a great a poet as he was a playwright: pungent and moving, both sharply aphoristic and generously expansive, morally committed, with a deep, complicating sense of his own mixed motives, and with unexpected moments of emotional intensity." -- Edward Mendelsohn
"The more than 1,000 entries - some published for the first time in English - are only about half of Brecht's lyric output. But they give a sense of the fertility of his pristine, unsentimental language and the breadth of subject and form." -- The International New York Times
"These poems, half of which appear here in English for the very first time, are anything but dry. They can be funny and bleak, moralising and wicked, passionate and philosophical, with a rich seam of coal-black humour. In his plays, Brecht kept the audience at arm's length, but here he invites them in. The translators, Tom Kuhn and David Constantine, create a voice for Brecht that feels fresh and alive, whether in tightly knit rhymes, free verse or prose. It's easy to forget you're reading a translation." -- The Telegraph
"It is a brilliant collection, full of great poems and memorable lines... Above all, the book reveals the extraordinary consistency of address, sympathy and range of subject in Brecht's work over a 40-year period." -- Morning Star
"Kuhn and Constantine speak eloquently of the ways in which Brecht's poems 'are never just the servants of his politics... they exceed his engagement in the particular and necessary cause.' And they are not entirely the servants of Brecht himself." -- London Review of Books
"Bertolt Brecht's Collected Poems... offers the most generous available English collection of Brecht's poetry." -- David Bromwich - Times Literary Supplement

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