I began translating German poetry while in graduate school at Cornell University. My first published translation was of Georg Trakl’s poem “Ein Winterabend,” (“A Winter Evening”), which appeared in Pearl River Review. My MFA thesis included a number of translations from Trakl, Hölderlin, Rilke, and Celan.
In 2003, while an Artist-in-Residence at the Pädagogische Hochschule in Karlsruhe, Germany, a colleague introduced me to the work of contemporary poet, essayist and translator Durs Grünbein. I read everything of his I could get my hands on, and then, after returning to the States and taking up the position of Editor of Cold Mountain Review, I invited Mr. Grünbein to contribute some new poems to a special issue I wanted to put together on “New International Poetry.” To my no small astonishment, he responded immediately with a letter and a thick sheaf of poems for me to translate. We have continued to collaborate on translation projects, including an essay of his on Rilke, “Ein kleines blaues Mädchen” (“A Blue Little Girl”), which Mr. Grünbein delivered as a lecture in Chicago in February, 2007, and which will appear, along with several other translations, in a collection of his essays due out from his American publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, in 2009.
Also in 2009, I produced a number of short translations of technical material on the history of synthetic speech for the journalist David Tompkins, whose book on the Vocoder is due out later this year; and a translation of Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter's libretto Die Geisterinsel ("The Island of Spirits") for the American composer Ming Tsao.