Language Death Night Outside

An “I” between languages. A text between the genres of poem and novel. 3 cities, 3 poems, 3 philosophers. The Austrian grandfather’s death triggers an examination of history, identity, consciousness. A life takes shape through precise particulars in short, staccato sentences. But the effort toward the concrete and definite  (“I forced myself to use main clauses, nouns, the definite article”) stands in tension with the boundlessness of thought where the city turns ship, and a flower in Vienna touches the sand dunes of North Africa.

Peter Waterhouse was born in Berlin in 1956 of an English father and an Austrian mother and studied in Vienna and Los Angeles. Long a resident of Vienna, Peter Waterhouse is one of Austria's leading poets and a noted translator from both English (Michael Hamburger, Gerard Manley Hopkins) and Italian (Andrea Zanzotto, Biagio Marin). He has received numerous prizes, including the Heimito von Doderer Prize (1997) and the H.C. Artmann Prize (2004).

More recent poetry includes Menz (2002), Prosperos Land (2001), Verloren ohne Rettung (2001). His latest publication is a novel/memoir, Krieg und Welt (2006).

Available in English: Where Are We Now (Duration Press, 1999). A Selected Poems is forthcoming from Shearsman.

“This simple reporting of simple occurrences in simple sentences leaves the reader in a vertigo of particular obervations… By refusing the habits of both “experimental poetry” and “traditional narration” Waterhouse finds untested forms of literary speech.” —Bruno Preisendörfer, Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin)

“Leaving behind causal and temporal connections, he succeeds in creating a “distance-event” as possibility of language.” —Hans Martin Henning, Frankfurter Rundschau

“Though Waterhouse evokes experience he does not resort to narrative, exactly….

There is a relentless multiplicity of reference – to experience, to ideas, to cultural detritus, to memory. There is the death of an Austrian grandfather. There is a questioning of what it means to be a German of the post-war generation…. There is a desire to be inclusive that makes the book a sort of masterwork…. I want to make the point here that the experiential aspect of Language Death Night Outside is often in relation to a kind of abstract thinking or reading that is as compelling a part of the non-narrative as cityscapes, colors, art, people, the seasons, meetings.”— Laura Moriarty [full text:}

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